Your Vail trail is almost ready |

Your Vail trail is almost ready

Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyJosh Stevenson removes a branch from the North Trail Wednesday during a volunteer trail maintenance day put together by Specialty Sports Venture and the U.S. Forest Service above West Vail.

VAIL ” Josh Stevenson loves biking the North Trail in Vail.

That’s why when his bosses at Specialty Sports Venture offered him and his coworkers the opportunity Wednesday to spruce up the trail just north of town, he said, he jumped at the opportunity.

“It’s a very popular trail, so it needs a lot of maintenance,” Stevenson said. “It’s pretty wide now, but by the end of the summer, it’ll be just a narrow path.”

Thirty volunteers, armed with clippers, shovels, axes and a hand tool known as a pulaski, trimmed brush and sawed through fallen trees in preparation for Friday’s reopening of the trail.

“We’re giving you saws so you don’t have to hack away at trees with your teeth,” said Dawes Wilson, who runs the Trail Action Group, a local organization that helps the U.S. Forest keep trails in good shape.

With regard to the pulaskis, “they’re not sharp enough to go into wood, but it will stick in your leg” said Mark Frings, a Specialty Sports employee, during the brief safety talk.

On the uphill trail, the crew occasionally broke out into song, singing “whistle while you work” while clipping the lush, green overgrowth.

“These guys live for this stuff,” volunteer Jen Martal said.

Although a couple employees stayed behind to work in the stores and offices, most of the company’s worker were out hiking among the yellow dandelions and sawing on the beaten trail.

“It’s better than sitting at a desk” said Martal as she clipped shrubbery that had been blocking the trail.

The volunteers shed layers of clothing as the temperature warmed up, the hike got steeper, and the sawing got more strenuous.

“Our purpose today is to give back to the community,” Wilson said.

The volunteers got donuts for breakfast, box lunches, water, tools, and a round of drinks at Sandbar following their eight-hour clean-a-thon.

Chris Dixon, Specialty Sports’ community outreach coordinator, said he was excited to be out of the office and on the trail, which he has biked and hiked multiple times.

“It feels good to give back,” he said.

“Do you feel like a lumber jack? Martal asked Dixon as he attempted to hack through a tree trunk that fell across the trail. “This is lumberjack 101.”

“Maybe the doughnuts weren’t the best idea” volunteer Colleen Gregory added.

“I like to power-up with sprinkle doughnuts” replied Martal.

There is still some evidence from last years clean up, where the crew lined switch backs with fallen tree trunks to keep hasty, corner cutting dogs on the trail.

Specialty Sports ” its stores include Vail Sports, Beaver Creek Sports, Peaks Sports, One Track Mind, and Gore Creek Fly Fisherman ” started the trail cleanup project in 2002 and more employees have volunteered each year.

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