This weekend I did a couple of hours of volunteer work on my home trails at Titcomb Mountain. The singletrack, built and maintained by Central Maine NEMBA, is an important part of my weekly training routine. It, like any trail, needs a significant volunteer commitment to maintenance.
I'll be the first to admit that I have not done my fair share. Regular, recurring work parties have often been scheduled at times that I have workplace obligations, so I have been freeloading for a time. This weekend's call for volunteers gave me a chance to earn my keep.
First, I have to say that CeMeNEMBA did an amazing job organizing a work party that conformed to COVID-19 social distancing protocols. The plan for physical distance between volunteers was communicated clearly in the initial appeal and reiterated once we arrived at the trailhead.
The main goal for volunteers was to smooth out the intersections between the singletrack and the nordic trails. A fall logging operation at Titcomb used the nordic system as its skidder trails, leaving ruts, mud and debris along the way. We used hoes and rakes to smooth out these crossings for bike travel.
The work itself was really straightforward, which was a relief for this newbie. Although the longtime CeMeNEMBA members had special trail building tools, other volunteers like me were able to help with regular garden tools. All the specialty work, like cutting blowdowns or leaf blowing, was pre-assigned to experienced volunteers who had the proper tools and safety equipment.
My wife and I rehabbed four intersections together, one of which was so strewn with blowdowns that I would not have been able to see the trail if I had not been so familiar with it. The whole group completed the goal work faster than anticipated, so we walked (socially distant, of course) another section of trail together to pull aside fallen brush and check its intersections.
Although we had to leave earlier than the hardcore volunteers, we put in a combined five hours from this household. Central Maine NEMBA, and like trail organizations, depend on volunteers hours not only for the work itself but for the grant money that follows demonstrated community participation. If you're looking for something meaningful to do this spring, get in touch with your local NEMBA chapter or whomever maintains your favorite local trails. The work is low-key, you likely already have the tools you need, and the impact on the community's trail experience is surprisingly deep.