It promised to be a wet miserable late November day with only a dozen or so confirmed attendees for our trail maintenance weekend. The daunting task ahead of us was lugging a truckload of wood down from the bottom of the 10th side road allowance and building over 100′ of board-walk in muddy conditions all this on a day that had the weather gurus promising snow.
My first task of the day was to gather up those that missed the email and would arrive at Mohawk instead of on the 10th side road and 4th line. I dropped off some tools and paperwork to JJ and then headed to Mohawk so that any stragglers could be redirected to the build. Waiting in the Mohawk lot every now and again my phone would beep and there would be a cancellation, would it be a disappointing day? In the pre-HAFTA years some current members participated in a project lead by Igor H. building the other board-walks in the Mahon tract under similar circumstances and it ending up taking them a few days. At least Rob Schultz was already coming back with some donated coffee from Marketplace Starbucks for our volunteers. If numbers were low the people who did come would be totally caffeinated. One by one our volunteers honked their horns at me as they drove up Guelph Line and some dropped by to talk before heading over to the build. Despite seeing volunteers were in fact coming I was still worried whether we would have enough of them and board-walk material.
At half past nine I opened the Mahon gate and headed down the road allowance toward the mountain of wood at the Bat box and was stunned – The turn out was amazing and that lumber pile had disappeared into a train of volunteers stretching out as far as I could see, with each person carrying a handful of lumber to the work site. Once the lumber was distributed and a few minutes of discussion took place nearly 40 volunteers were divvied up into groups and our board-walk assembly line began lurching into action. It didn’t take long to get production set up and the framing done. Then dozens of volunteers armed with their own drills began screwing in the decking. To me this was raucous and a magical sight. Paulo took a small group and headed out to Gnome rock to repair the ramps while the rest of the team was making quick work of the board-walk. The project was looking to be done in just over 3 hours, however we ran into bit of a snag. Nearing the end of the project we discovered we were running out of decking, however some quick thinking lead to JJ and some strong volunteers hauling wheelbarrow loads from an old stash that was all the way down on the stunt trail. Further brainstorming lead to some of the remaining 4x4s being split in half and used as decking.
Thankfully all the snags were ironed out and the job was finished well before the allotted time! We even had an opportunity to fine tune the project and socialize before wrapping the day up. We’d like to thank all our sponsors and in particular the PRFCT Line T shirt company and Via Ciclante for providing the generous prizes we raffled off to the volunteers. We’d also like to thank Halton Region and their forest manager Ron Reinholt for organizing all the materials that went into this board-walk. Finally we’d like to note that sponsors are always needed and with the extra perk of things like bike goodies, gear and coffee it hopefully gets a few tired people out of bed early to help.
All in all we had an awesome day with our team of selfless volunteers quickly finishing the job and having an amazing time in spite of the weather. Thank you all for helping HAFTA make your trails even better and hope to see you at our AGM in the new year!
Prizes from the draw are as follows:
Via Ciclante’s Continental Tires – Jennifer Sage
Via Ciclante’s Shimano SPD Pedals – Ian Deeks
Via Ciclante’s T9 Chain Lube – Raf Rider
Via Ciclante’s T9 Chain Lube – Brett Kril
Via Ciclante’s T9 Chain Lube – Gerard Foley
The PRFCT Line’s I Will Allow It T-Shirt – James Bannister
It was a damp and chilly start to the October build day, with a rainstorm ending only hours before trail-day was set to begin we were worried about how much help would come. Thankfully many of you are passionate enough about trails and giving back to the community that a few grey clouds didn’t get in your way.
The main project of the day was armouring low spots at the AF connection to Hilton Fall’s Five-Bridges trail. This location has always been home to a muddy mess after just a small amount of rain. In the pre-HAFTA days a thoughtful forest user had attempted to fix the mud patch with some armouring – Unfortunately their fix was narrow and bumpy so people simply rode beside it creating an adjacent mud patch. On the 25th of October, in an attempt to stop erosion, the old armouring was torn up and replaced with a wider and smoother version. Hopefully the new design will catch all traffic and prevent the mud patch from reappearing.
Since the turnout was good(about 15 people) we were able to split into two different groups, the second group was given the task of fixing some deficiencies on the Christmas trail. The first involved removal of some fallen trees and in particular the Muskoka Dreams sign which had some surprisingly large nails underneath it. If you were particularly attached to the sign and like to ride Christmas trail in the downhill direction it should appease you to know that the sign was replaced with a roller which should be safer and last much longer.
After we replaced the old sign on Christmas trail, the group headed over to the long rock-face, where a fractured ramp covered in ratty wire was being used as the alternate line. In the past we had tried to remove this ramp entirely, it really was nasty, but some riders kept re-installing it so we decided to give these people what they wanted! Maybe they have really low bottom brackets? At any rate a new ramp was created out of rock and should provide years of fun.
The last project took place at the bottom of the rock face on Christmas trail. Among other parts, this trail section is one of the last bits to dry in the spring, so we began the armouring again. It was a labour that took the majority of group b’s time with their leader pleading “Just one more rock.” I have a feeling we’ll need to visit the Christmas trail again, but for now we’re onto our next project which will take place in the Mahon tract. Looks like we’re finishing a boardwalk that was started a few years back. Stay tuned and please come out to help keep the AF awesome!
Out of sight in the night out of sight in the day, Lookin’ back on the track gonna do it my way. Come join and make trails!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Some of the plants reported to us are definitely not wild parsnip, but we recommend educating yourself as finding wild parsnip in the forest nowadays would not be unlikely.
Many of you are familiar with poison ivy, but recently we have a new species popping up in small batches – Wild Parsnip. Some theorize birds are spreading the seeds and the loss of canopy from the ice-storm has allowed this shade intolerant species to gain a foothold in many areas this year. Regardless of how, this plant has been reported in the AF and it is a mean one. We take these reports seriously. Wild Parsnip comes from the same family as Giant Hogweed and will leave you with bad burns if the leaf oil gets on your skin.
“The chemicals in the plant that cause this problem are called furocoumarins. When absorbed by your skin, they’re energized by ultraviolet light, causing a breakdown of cells and skin tissue. This leaves you with a red, sunburn-like area. (Don’t think you’re safe on a cloudy day – you can still get burned since ultraviolet light is present even on cloudy days.) Once exposed, your skin will turn red within 24 to 48 hours. In many cases, after the skin reddens, blisters appear–some of them pretty big. Sometimes the area that was burned takes on a dark red or brown discoloration that can last for as long as 2 years.” – Source
“If one should come in contact with wild parsnip sap, you should immediately cover the exposed skin to prevent the reaction to sunlight (but the area will remain sensitized for about eight hours). The contact area should be washed with warm water and a mild soap. If exposure to sunlight causes a burn and blisters to develop the affected area should be covered with a cool, damp cloth to help relieve pain. The blistered skin should be kept out of the sunlight to avoid further burning. If blistering is severe, see a physician. There is no cure for parsnip burns; however, a topical or systemic cortisone steroid may relieve discomfort.” – Source
“Vampire syndrome, I’ve named it. Because you can go out at night and do what you want, but during the day you have to hide because the UV rays will burn you,” “All of the sudden you can’t go in a boat. You can’t go canoeing, really. You have to stay totally covered up all the time because you don’t want to set it off again.” – Source
Please note not all plants will be fully grown or in bloom as shown in pictures. The leafs are not all exactly the same either. The plant has a very pungent odour if you crush a leaf or stem. Do not attempt to remove this yourself and stay on the trail!
Random fact: This plant was introduced to Canada by European settlers as the root is apparently edible(disclaimer: Do your own research there!!)
Here are the reported locations and a handy guide: