New kid-friendly Minturn Mini Mile trail took a volunteer army to build
September 5, 2017
Avon twins Cody and Casey Wyse have volunteered long hours to build local trails and even have a trail named after them in recognition of their efforts.
Along the way, the brothers have become experts in trail building, and when the opportunity arose to put in a 1.3-mile trail on Minturn open space near Little Beach Park, they quickly volunteered, assuming the short trail would come together quickly.
They were wrong.
The total volunteer hours among the large group who has come together to see the trail through is now approaching 2,000.
The biggest surprise came near the end of the trail, in an area that was formerly a gravel pit.
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"It was like concrete, even the dirt," Casey Wyse said.
"They used dozers to put it in there," added Cody Wyse. "And we used hand picks to try to get it out."
As far as trails go, the Minturn Mini Mile is a beauty. It takes hikers and bikers out of the town amphitheater area (which has ample parking) up a few switchbacks, giving users a view of Little Beach Park, the Eagle River and the Minturn cemetery. At one point, Notch Mountain and 14,009-foot Mt. of the Holy Cross come into view, offering a stunning backdrop. It's a point-to-point trail, but it can also be used as a loop when connected with Ballpark road.
The marquee feature is a 17-foot long piece of sheet rock used to create a bridge over a small ravine. The Gallegos Corporation contributed the rock.
SPIRIT OF VAIL
Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado pitched in volunteer hours to the project, and the United Way contributed, as well. But the bulk of the work came from the Vail Valley Mountain Biking Association's team of volunteers, who have posted a volunteer leaderboard on their site. Casey Wise leads with more than 50 hours volunteered this year.
The Wyse Brothers insist the leaderboard's main use is to help make estimates on the volunteer hours that will be required to create trails in the future, but there is some good old fashioned competitive energy bonding its names. Sun & Ski in Avon has even offered a prize purse to the winners.
Pete Seibert Jr. is volunteering for trail work for the first time this summer. He said watching the trail come together with the bridge donated by Gallegos was the most rewarding part.
"And it's been fun to watch these guys build a trail," he said of the many volunteers that put in hours on the project.
He said his father, the legendary WWII ski trooper who helped found and build Vail Mountain, would have enjoyed to see the way the trail came together, and the way the name — the Minturn Mini Mile — pays homage to Vail ski culture.
"My old man would have loved this," he said, specifically pointing out the bridge. "My dad would have loved the way the community stepped up."
Another person who would have loved it, Seibert added, is Gerald Gallegos, who started Gallegos Company in 1970 and passed away in 2010.
WORK ON THE HORIZON
The work has taken place on Wednesday evenings, and on Wednesday, August 30, the trail made a debut of sorts at a kids race put on as part of the Vail Recreation District's mountain bike racing series.
The Wyse Brothers are themselves fathers who each have two kids ages five and under already riding pedal bikes. That's one of the things that motivated them to volunteer on the Mini Mile.
"My kids will be able to come out here, ride this trail and also be able to enjoy the playground at Little Beach Amphitheater," Casey Wyse said.
The work it took to create this trail, and the time spent away from those kids, has the Wyse Brothers contemplating the hand building process when it comes to trail creation. It's rewarding, but it's also time consuming. The Vail Valley Mountain Biking Association is currently raising funds for a machine called a mini excavator, which could bring new trails to nearby areas a lot faster.
The machine isn't as imposing as it sounds, say the Wyse brothers, its not pumping out black smoke and violating noise regulations. And its precision will allow for more exact trails, which are usually more sustainable. As trail enthusiasts in the county work to provide more connectivity to existing trails, and replace those which aren't exactly legal, they are seeing a lot of work on the horizon.
"There are some projects in the works that are going to take a significant effort," Cody Wyse said. "Everything will still be cleaned up by hand and buffed out by hand, but (a mini excavator) will definitely give us a head start in building a base and something that we can work with a little easier than just a shovel and a pick."
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