Stop three for the month of May saw IMBA Canada’s full time trail specialist, Daniel Scott, head to Riding Mountain National Park. The goal of his visit was two fold: run a workshop for the Park staff and run a workshop for volunteers from various community organizations neighbouring the Park boundary.

The Park staff workshop went amazingly well with three very productive days of classroom and fieldwork. To date, no other National Parks workshop has accomplished as much within the field component as did the RMNP staff. After going through the fundamentals of sustainable trail design, the classroom sessions delved into the specifics of rock and wood construction techniques. Once in the field, the staff were able to assess a stretch of the North Shore Trail bordering Clear Lake, and with guidance, implement a series of modifications. These modifications began with basics such as re-establishing the outslope on bench cut trail and incorporating knicks / rolling grades dips where appropriate. From there they moved on to creting new bench cut trail and while rehabilitating / closing the old unsustainable alignment. Lastly the crew tackled some advanced rock work techniques like raised tread, stone pitching and even a boulder causeway.

At no point did I hear any of the staff say “We can’t…” or “Too hard…”. In fact the resourcefulness and willingness of this crew to see the projects through to fruition was impressive. Got a seep or low lying wet area? Alright, let’s go to the yard, get the skid steer, load up some boulders and get crackin’! Throughout the week I got to chat with some of the trail crew and realized that I was working along side some very interesting people whose stories kept me bewildered and amazed. Little did I know, I would be swinging a pulaski alongside a world renowned escape artist, rodeo cowboy, triathlete, and former ski hill groomer. It was truly a privilege and I have high hopes for the work that these folk will produce in the future for Riding Mountain National Park’s trail system.

Check out this series of photos to see some of the excellent work that was done during the staff workshop:

Raised Tread – Before, During & After

Boulder Causeway – Before, During & Almost Finished

This bridge was originally situated IN the seep. After deciding to install a boulder causeway to address the seep, the idea of reusing this bridge a few feet up trail in order to protect a section of exposed tree roots was put in action. The staff pitched stones underneath as footings, elevating the wood away from any potential moisture and then created rock ramps on either end.

At the end of the final day of the staff workshop, people went away with a solid sense of accomplishment. The work done was a superb first effort from everyone and any pride felt is well deserved.

With the staff workshop complete, it was time to switch gears and commence the weekend volunteer workshop. This is a National Park with immense potential for developing superb trails for not only hiking, but also mountain biking throughout the various landscapes that can be found within its boundaries. There are a few organizations situated next to the Park which understand this and have come forward in an effort to work with the Park. Members of the Manitoba Escarpment Trail Society & Friends of Riding Mountain, among others, sacrificed their long weekends to come out for a two day workshop on developing sustainable trails with the hope of being able assist Park staff in whatever way possible.

A big thank you to everyone involved. Your solid work ethic, passion for trails and cooperation is exemplary and hopefully will help to create a new precedent for others to follow.