It takes a coordinated team of volunteers devoting time to ensure that the 121 kilometres of Avon Trail can be navigated safely. Bruce Graham, Trail Monitor Captain, keeps careful tabs on the state of the trail through reports he receives from trail section monitors.
Bruce is grateful for the enthusiasm shown by all Avon Trail monitor, maintenance and construction crew volunteers. He spends many hours during the year with these groups and walks the trails with new trail monitors.
Avon Trail hikers do generally not see behind the curtains – the tree limbs cut and moved from the trail, the climbing styles built and installed, the bridges built and repaired, all by volunteers.
The trail is divided into 30 sections, with side trails divided into six sections. Ideally, each unit is assigned to a team of two volunteer trail monitors. Some of these sections do not have monitors set due to the lack of monitors. “This happens due to attrition, with some member monitors retiring and moving out of the area,” admits Bruce. “We could use more trail monitors.”
Each team monitors its section a minimum of three times a year: in early spring, early summer and late fall. The trail monitors walk their sections to ensure that the blazes are marked in both directions. The trail monitors clip away encroaching plant growth that can obscure blazes on trees and poles using garden pruners. “We depend on our monitors to provide a trail monitor report, using our standard report form, sent as a photo by email to me,” says Bruce. Having well-marked trails with visible blazes, free of obstacles like branches and fallen trees is critical to maintaining trail insurance coverage. “We need hikers to be confident they can follow and stay on the trail.”
If you would like to join the pool of trail monitors, maintenance or construction crew members, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and Bruce will contact you. Acting as a trail monitor helps you learn about a section of the trail and provides you with a sense of conservation stewardship. It’s a great way to contribute to the Avon Trail.