Could you have picked a better weekend to spend on the Catamount Trail? CTA Outreach Coordinator Andy Wood says “Nope!” We had sun, wind, shade, a river nearby, excellent company, good cheer, and a manageable project to tackle on Section 3. Volunteers came out from all over the state (and out of state) for another Trail Work Weekend.
For our readers who aren’t familiar with Section 3, this portion of the Catamount Trail is a beautiful ski along the East Branch of the Deerfield River, past beaver ponds, along Searsburg Reservoir, and ending at the spectacular Somerset Reservoir–a huge, undeveloped lake. As one member of our crew put it, Section 3 is the “most beautiful Catamount Trail section in the un-conducted poll”. While some CT skiers might disagree, this piece of trail is a local favorite.
On Saturday we met up at the Lind Lane Trailhead, strapped on our tools, and hiked north. From the trailhead, the Catamount Trail follows an old railroad bed, which makes for great skiing and easy hiking. We spent the morning cutting back saplings and brush that had encroached on the corridor. In some places we found older blazes on trees obscured by a 4-foot swath of new vegetation. It’s amazing to see how the forest regenerates and reclaims the work we do. For an interesting read on the history of the Somerset area, check out this article in Northern Woodlands.
Later in the day we completed several micro-reroutes to straighten out sharp turns. Before, skiers had to navigate 90-degree turns to avoid careening into a gully. Now, skiers will be able to cut off the turn and keep cruising downhill. After a full day of work, most of the crew rendezvoused for a burger at Wahoo’s Eatery in Wilmington.
Sunday turned out to be even more beautiful than Saturday, and we had another good crew out for the day. We accessed our work site from the East Branch Side Trail, allowing us to get at the middle sections of the trail. Here the trail narrows, and we spent time reclaiming the trail from the forest. Further north busy beavers had altered the hydrology of the area, flooding a section of the trail and taking down several large trees. We worked to improve stream crossings, and completed another micro-reroute around a steep gully. As we retraced our steps back to the parking area, it was amazing to observe how much better the trail looked. I know I’ll be looking forward to skiing this section.
The best part of the weekend, though, was getting to meet new folks and spending time together on the trail. Bringing people together to work on this free, public access trail is the CTA at its best. While this project is now behind us, there’s more good projects ahead. Stay tuned for our 2015 Fall Trail Work schedule!