“I never knew how much work went into picking rocks out of the woods,” Tony Amenta of Waitsfield said, helping Mariah Keagy of the Morrisville-based trail development company, Sinuosity, to carefully roll a boulder down a hill.
As a longtime employee of Small Dog Electronics in Waitsfield, Amenta is allowed up to a month of paid sabbatical to do volunteer work and he used it to spend the past two weeks helping Sinuosity build a new trail at Blueberry Lake in Warren.
Last Tuesday, August 25, Amenta, Keagy and Sinuosity owner Brooke Scatchard worked on stabilizing the downhill bank on a portion of the new half-mile trail, Suki’s Alley, which will connect up with the network’s existing trails, Tootsie Roll and Lenord’s Loop.
Like the existing five miles of trails on the United States Forest Service (USFS) land at Blueberry Lake, Suki’s Alley will be multi-use, meaning it will be open to hikers and cross-country skiers. But it was designed and built with mountain biking in mind.
“We’re trying to keep it really narrow,” Scatchard said of the singletrack, which will include berms and a bridge and will be “more challenging” than the network’s existing trails, he said.
Scatchard and Keagy are both mountain bikers. “Everyone on the crew is,” Scatchard said of Sinuosity employees, who bring their bikes to work and test out the trails as they build them. So far on Suki’s Alley, “the berms are really fun,” Scatchard said.
The Waitsfield-based nonprofit organization, Mad River Riders, used grant funds to hire Sinuosity to build Suki’s Alley. Last year, the Riders, the Mad River Valley Planning District, the USFS and several other organizations and individuals received a 2014 Chief’s Honor Award for the trails at Blueberry Lake, which have become immensely popular with both locals and visitors alike.
“There’s all sorts of people out riding,” Amenta said of those who use the trails at Blueberry Lake, from older, more experienced mountain bikers to kids on striders (or pedal-less bikes).
Moving forward, Amenta hopes to take the construction techniques he learned through working with Sinuosity on Suki’s Alley to help the Mad River Riders build more trails in The Valley and expand the community resource.
“I see this as sort of an apprenticeship,” he said.
Sinuosity has been working for about three weeks on Suki’s Alley and Scatchard expects the trail will take another 1 ½ to 2 weeks to complete, so that it will be ready to ride before the end of summer.