On May 5, it was raining so hard, I got wet down to my base layers. I was standing mid-way through the trail with Jack, wondering why either of us would want to be out there getting soaked in the first place. The rain eventually let up, I know because I was on this particular trail for close to 12 hours on that rain May 5th. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s take a step back.
The day before we had started a volunteer driven project to resurface the trail between Henry Morgan Park and Coburn Road. The idea was fairly simple, the original trail was rough, a little nasty to walk on, but a great corridor for active transportation in the Bowser community. The plan was to use 4 dump truck loads of gravel to cover the 250m trail in an effort to stop unnecessary tripping by walkers and a smoother path for a larger variety of trail users.
The project started with a bang. Material was dropped on time, equipment was running excellently, a few keen helpers were on board, and the sun was shining. We got to work. We were using a combo of a mini walk behind loader and a mini stand behind dumper to get things moving. These micro machines of heavy equipment did a great job of clawing their way through the gravel. The rubber tracks were no wider than the original trail, keeping things clean and tidy.
That first day was a real treat as we had a few trail users pass by. Some by chance, and some to check out the work. We had a couple of joggers, a biker, and a lunch break walker using the trail to stay active. These encounters were met with smiling faces and provided a renewed energy letting us know we were helping out our community in a good way.
On day two we hosted Bowser Elementary Schools grade 5 class. This excited group of 20 kids along with their teacher braved the wet weather and walked from school to the trail. After a quick lunch we discussed how a trail can benefit a community. We talked about trail uses and explored ideas on how to make a good trail. Thanks to our friends at Bowser Building Supply, we we’re equipped with a variety of rakes and shovels for the kids work with. And work they did! Each of the students grabbed a tool and spread out along the trail raking and tamping the gravel bed. They had a friendly contest where they filled up filling the dumper machine by hand and of course, a quick game of hide and seek in the surrounding forest. After all this effort we we’re happy to supply each of these kids with some Gatorade refreshments. This may have been the most beneficial work we had done. You see each of these 20 kids ended up tromping up and down the entire length of the trail an easy 10 times each, packing the gravel in with each step. Thanks guys!
The sun came back out on day 3 and 4 providing a much more pleasant environment for the community volunteer day finale. Early on the Sunday, we had a group of folks come out, take in the views of the Salish from Henry Morgan Park, then put their heads down to rake and tamp the last section of trail. I could hear the groups chatting as they worked, talking about past experiences, and familiar friends.
When the day was done, I took a quick walk to survey the completed work. As I stood mid -way through the trail, as had had a couple of days earlier, I realized that we do this for the connections. The trail connects one area to another, it connects folks to the forest, and working on the trail connects community members.
Thanks to all the volunteers that came out to help. This project would not have been completed without your hard work. Thanks to all the support from our local businesses and community, AG Project Management, Bowser Towing, Bluestone Aggregate, Rockaway trucking, Bowser Building Supply, and Sunbelt Rentals for donating the equipment. Thanks to the RDN for providing the grant funding and thanks to the parks operations staff who worked hard on prepping this trail for the build. Thanks to the Grade 5 class of Bowser Elementary for putting a smile on my face on a really wet day. And thanks to all the trail users out there. Lace up your boots and check it out.