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Saturday, April 4, 2020

Work continues on the Galbraith trail

Western students started building a new mountain biking on Galbraith Mountain in November 2013. The project has been ongoing since then, but is now nearing completion.

Mike Storm, volunteer coordinator, said that the construction of the mountain bike trail at Galbraith presents a great opportunity.

“Galbraith is private land,” he said. “You can do things with private land that you can’t do on public land. There’s a lot of freedoms on Galbraith that there aren’t in a lot of places.”

Galbraith, which sits between Bellingham and Sudden Valley, is mainly accessed through two ports of entry, either through Birch Street, off Lakeway Drive, or through Galbraith Lane, off Samish Way, according to Google Maps.

Storm — who has been with the project since the beginning — and his crew were not building a new trail, but completely rebuilding an existing one, he said.

When working on this project and estimating time, Storm said that when they use the term “years,” what they actually mean is seasons.

“The winter months are when the rain falls. You can pack dirt, and it’s easier to work,” he said. “Summer is the riding season.”

“When we first started in on the section we’re working on, I was looking at [the project] being about three years,” Storm said. “In truth, it might end up being more like four.”

Storm said that building a trail is not an exact science.

“I would compare it to rehabbing an old house,” Storm said. “You start with one set of expectations, and then when you get into it there are always unforeseen obstacles. Things often take longer than what you think they will.”

As for specific obstacles, Storm cites both the fact that there are a lot of stumps on the mountain, as well as the sandstone.

“The sandstone is both a blessing and a curse,” Storm said. “It’s great that it allows the dirt up there to dry pretty quickly, and it’s rideable even when wet.”

One of the volunteers on the project, Western junior Kory Bisset, said that the rain makes it easier to move dirt and shore up the path in the desired way.

Senior Genevieve Scuter-Ellis got involved with the project last year as part of Western’s Road Cycling club’s mandatory volunteer hours. She enjoyed it, and lent a hand whenever she was available, she said.

The most gratifying part of the process is the reaction from people passing by, Scuter-Ellis said.

“In the middle of a long day, when you’re out there working, someone will ride by and thank you for all your hard work,” she said.

 Storm said that too much clay content in the soil makes mud cake up on a bikes tires, making the rider unable to turn the wheels.

Storm also said that charting a path around the rocks and tree stumps, but that it is impossible to know what will be uncovered.

“Sometimes you start digging and investing a certain amount of time on a certain section, only to realize that area is not going to work,” he said.

Storm urges anyone who is interested in learning more about the project, or volunteering, to visit his website, http://www.manualmike.com/.         

Mike Storm stands on the Grasshopper Trail after taking a run on Thursday, Oct. 15 at Galbraith Mountain. Storm has worked for many, many hours over the course of nearly three years to resurface and restructure the trail. The drop point behind him was there when he began work, but he has built many more jumps, including a 6 foot tall step-up jump that he and a team of volunteers carved out by hand. Storm said there is more work to be done, but is hopeful the project will be completed in another year. // Photo by Daisey James
Mike Storm stands on the Grasshopper Trail after taking a run on Thursday, Oct. 15 at Galbraith Mountain. Storm has worked for many, many hours over the course of nearly three years to resurface and restructure the trail. The drop point behind him was there when he began work, but he has built many more jumps, including a 6 foot tall step-up jump that he and a team of volunteers carved out by hand. Storm said there is more work to be done, but is hopeful the project will be completed in another year. // Photo by Daisey James

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