FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- The Norwalk River Valley Trail is advancing rapidly into the “enchanted forest."
That’s what Rep. Gail Lavielle called the Wilton woods at the Nov. 7 groundbreaking ceremony for the NRVT demonstration trail. Now Timber & Stone LLC is laying a broad trail through the forest – trail you will soon be able to put your boots and bike tires on.
I caught up with Josh Ryan, the Vermont trail construction company’s boss, at his staging area last week. It was chilly at 9 a.m., but bright. The T&S crew had been at work for hours. Josh explained the four stages of construction - tree-clearing, excavation, surfacing and naturalization.
Tree-clearing sounds contrary to a green project. But, almost exclusively, it has been about removing trees that were already down, victims of Sandy perhaps. T&S goes to great lengths to build around trees, especially mature ones. To see the care taken, look at the planks tied to trunks to protect them from passing machinery.
The progress in two weeks is phenomenal. Tree-clearing on the half mile demonstration trail is virtually complete. So is excavation, the actual digging out of ground from Route 7 to Raymond Lane. Today, Josh’s team -- Emma and Alex for now, both from Vermont -- were busy surfacing, putting down a thick layer of gray aggregate.
We walked along the excavated trail. It will be a beautiful place to stroll, bike, run. That’s where naturalization comes in too, making a new trail look like it’s always been there.
Josh aims to finish the project this winter, weather permitting. Cold is not the obstacle. But heavy rain will turn excavated trail to mud, and snow or high winds could set things back too. Look out the window now and think of Josh.
Rob McWilliams is an avid hiker who lives in Fairfield County. His hiking blog is online .