Settling into the spring riding season in the Agreement Forest has taken some time this year. The first snag came hot on the heels of our AGM. Just as we were escaping March old man winter laid down an impressive ice-storm on the 25th. Many riders were worried we’d have another catastrophic storm like 2013 – A storm that saw lesser used trails so heavily clogged with fallen trees they never recovered. In the end this new storm was nowhere near as damaging, but it still wasn’t messing around as it brought accretions of ice ranging from 10-20mm. That is a lot of ice, but in a stroke of luck for our trails, there was a lack of wind and a prompt warm front following which allowed trees to quickly shed ice.
The thing about warm fronts is that they aren’t all sunshine and lolipops. Just a few days after the ice storm melt we saw a new front that caused temperatures to rocket to 17°C. The worst part of this storm was it poured about an inch of rain in one go. That rainfall caused rivers and streams already swollen with melt-water to overflow and flood the trails.
Before anything could dry up we plunged right back down into winter with nightly lows in the double digits. It was thusly that the trails became a half frozen slurry of mud and ice as we oscillated around the freezing point for what felt like weeks all the while politely asking users to stay off the vulnerable trails.
It wasn’t until April 20th that we decided the trails would be able to handle regular traffic with minimal damage. Unfortunately some had people ignored the previous warnings so our trails gained more soft spots and deepened the older ones. Those same riders took the opportunity to cut themselves a new trail off of Christmas trail which we had to close. Not only because the land owner hadn’t agreed to it, but also since it went through a patch of green violet the ecologist had identified earlier.
Maintenance Day 1 of 3
After the debacle of early April and with temperatures rising, riders were really ready to get outside so they turned in force on April 26th to help open up the trails for the season. This was the first of three maintenance days to occur.
Maintenance Day 2 of 3
It was job well done in Hilton Falls, but the work was not over. We still had to deal with issues on our side of the forest complex. On the 30th of April we hosted the first HAFTA led build and maintenance day. Two main projects were to be tackled, the first of which involved giving the pines a much needed tune up and pruning as this section had not been up to snuff since the logging.
Before this got started we went out and spent about $500 on tools and Spokes and Slopes generously matched that amount with their donation bringing the purchase up to a cool $1,000. Big shout out to them for the help in the trail department.
Next came the small issue of closing the extra lines at the Bat Boxes. Not a popular project, but things are always a negotiation and this one was requested by the land owner after the results of their five year survey were returned to them.
Maintenance day 3 of 3
The last build day of the spring season took place April 1st and the people who came out weren’t kidding around as the weather had taken a turn for the wet after the previous day’s sunshine. On the agenda was sitting and drinking coffee and hoping that nobody would come out, but we should have known better as mountain bikers aren’t afraid to get a little dirt under their fingernails. The first task was to armour the lead in to a low spot we had previously board-walked on the B.C. Rocks trail.
Up next was redoing the rock-work on the “Easy/Hard” section of B.C. Rocks. Ever since the wooden feature rotted away and broke it didn’t ride too smooth.
We’d like to thank the volunteers who turned out for out build and maintenance days! Each volunteer helps to motivate us and when people show up on a rainy day we can’t help but feel the future of these trails is bright. Hope to see everybody out enjoying them!
The first Annual General Meeting and Social on March 18th was a unique event that saw us packing the Mohawk Inn with familiar faces and welcoming the Agreement Forest community members. It was amazing to see the variety of people who, sharing our common goal, threw their lot in with HAFTA so that after much sputtering on the runway this club and its official stewardship of the AF trails could take flight.
We’re grateful to the Mohawk Inn and Conference Centre who donated their conference room for the occasion. It was an excellent facility that worked perfectly for our needs. The fact there was a bar in the back definitely helped the time fly when it came to the legal aspects of the night such as the presentation of the financials. If you’d like to know more about the past year and how the night progressed please read on!
Making up the bulk of the night was the president’s briefing. It strolled through topics such as:
Our accomplishments(With your help!)
330 hours of volunteer work into the trails this year.
Over 100 members.
Trail work is fully insured.
Recognition as stewards by the land owner(Halton Region).
Creation of a brand new trail(The Revolver).
Rehabilitation of Stunt and Christmas trail plus addition of 100 ft of boardwalk.
The president’s report was quite the epic presentation, many thanks to Peter for patiently talking us through all the details and to our members for listening.
After the president’s brief our media and sponsorship director Paulo Laberge took a moment to recognize all of our sponsors. Paulo has been quite busy this year explaining how HAFTA is important to local businesses and the outdoor recreation community. In fact Nottinghill Wellness decided to become supporters that night! Through sponsorship your HAFTA membership now has benefits beyond supporting trails. For example, the crew from Bike Zone Mississauga was in attendance that night and announced, in addition to already helping offset the cost of the jersey, they would be offering members at least 10% off their in-store purchase( HAFTA card req’d).
Some of our other regional sponsors have offered to provide similar discounts to card holders! Keep in mind your membership card also gets you into our raffles and we have lots of goodies from sponsors for our trail days. An annual membership is only $30(even cheaper if you join for longer) so if you spend over $300 a year on bikes/bike parts or clothing at one of the sponsors you’re getting a good price on kit and helping keep the trails sustainable. Pretty good deal either way. In addition to working together with local businesses we are partnering with local riding clubs like the Wild Bettys to spread the “stoke.”
During the brief question and answer period following our sponsorship discussion some interesting comments about signage were made. Apparently at least one member feels the Agreement Forest has the atmosphere of an English labyrinth, with its tight single-track, dense forest and large rock structures. He worried that erecting signs may ruin that unique aspect – An interesting take to be sure, we wonder where he got that idea. Other long time riders stood up to take a moment to recognize how important and positive a role mountain biking in the AF has played and does play in their lives – Pretty neat! The talk continued on with a question regarding other regional trails that are outside the scope of this organisation. You can always contact us with any questions.
After all comments were responded to and questions answered as satisfactorily as possible we had ourselves a little draw! Up for grabs was an awesome pair of Oakley riding glasses from Via Ciclante in addition to POC gloves and sunglass cleaner. An I Will Allow It t-shirt was also donated by ThePrfctLine – Be sure to check out their new t-shirt for Perry’s Portage.
That is a wrap for HAFTA’s first AGM. I just want to say it was great to see so many AF trail people coming together in one spot. The first year has involved a steep learning curve, but I think it was worth it. Definitely looking forward to seeing our members out enjoying the trails and volunteering when possible this year – Peace!
What we really mean when we say the trails are poor and flooded is that they’re essentially closed. Below are pictures from the southern part of the forest.
If that doesn’t have enough impact then consider photos from the north western side.
This weekend a few people rode the vulnerable sections anyway.
That sucks because the flooded areas are all in little terrain bowls and if enough people ride or hike the flooded single-tract in these bowls we’ll end up with trail treads that are weak and chronically collect water. Slowly and steadily that low tread gets churned and loose/muddy enough that we end up having to armour it(extremely laborious). Unfortunately having these trails go through low areas is sometimes the only option given the rockiness and all the small tributaries. We do want to improve this aspect with some trail re-alignments.
To reiterate, under these extraordinary conditions we’re going to go beyond poor and state the trails are “closed”. Hopefully that is a strong enough message. This is really going to take some time to dry up since the old Nassagaweya(nazhesahgewayyong) Township is living up to it’s name as a place with more than one river!