The FVR Trail Blazers were formed in December of 2019 when they took on building the trail to Meditation Point as part of Valdese Lakeside Park’s Phase 1 construction. Volunteers worked every other Saturday, December – May to complete the nearly ADA compatible four-foot wide, 0.1-mile trail.
Though eager to do more, the Town of Valdese did not want more volunteer trails built as they wanted to work through grants and professional trail builders. In May 2021, the Town of Valdese received word that the Red Outer Loop Trail needed to be moved off of private property (the trail section was there from years past). Finally, the FVR Trail Blazers had a chance to build more trail – even if it was in the middle of the summer heat!
Zakk Heile and Tim Johnson flagged the 0.35-mile reroute in June and volunteers got to work. With the heat, the terrain and walking 0.5-mile to get to the work site, volunteers wondered if there was a better way. Bodgan asked about an excavator and had a donor who would pay for the rental. Tim said he would volunteer his time one weekend to do as much as he could.
To get ready for the excavator – the same as if you were to build by hand, volunteers to clear the corridor – cut trees thigh high. This allows the bucket to scoop out the roots (and if you were hand building it would give volunteers leverage on pulling the root out). Once the corridor was clear, the weather was checked the weekend of Aug 6-8 was chosen for the excavator work.
With a Huge Work Weekend with over 35 volunteers, about 0.1 mile was finished. Tim would not be able to help again until late November. FVR was trying to figure out what to do – the west side of the park was cut off because of the greenway construction and this closed red trail. The options for visitors were extremely limited.
Eric had watched Tim and felt he could operate the excavator. Eric studied through you-tube videos and video games and decided to give it a try. The week of September 13, Eric excavated the remaining 0.25 miles. Tim checked Eric’s work at the end of the week and got a passing grade!
Invigorated by the opportunity to get this trail open to the public sooner than expected, the Trail Blazers got to work with setting the tread, angling the backslope, making sure there was no berm and carrying off roots/branches. Work is almost complete and the trail will have a ribbon cutting and group walk on Sunday, October 17 at 2pm.
The total volunteer hours on this reroute is 411 hours right as of Sept 30. We have 2 more work days planned to finish it. The current. The value of a volunteer hour was estimated at $28.54 – so, $12,730 in donated labor. The FVR Trail Blazers look forward to the opportunity to build more trail at Valdese Lakeside Park.