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Locals are doing their part to help bring up to par the Nicola Valley section of the Trans Canada Trail — a biking route that takes riders through every Canadian province and territory.
Norm Hansen and friends have committed themselves to maintaining the trail for others.
“We’re trying to repair the slide area so bikers aren’t risking their lives going overtop,” Hansen said, noting he’s not an avid biker, but wants Merritt to do its part to keep up the trail. “It’s pretty disturbing for people, because if they bike in there, they are coming down the river opposite the freeway and they would be in there about four kilometres when they run into these, and then of course have to turn back.”
That’s a lengthy detour for people who have already biked thousands of kilometres across the nation and are often near the end of their strenuous journey when they enter the Kettle Valley section of the track.
Hansen said volunteers want to make sure the trail’s condition in the Nicola Valley is up to par with the trail elsewhere, though there are challenges for bikers throughout the journey.
The sections needing work came to the men’s attention when the owner of a coffee shop at the Merritt Visitor Information Centre said he was hearing complaints from trek-goers that the trail was in critical condition.
“The bank is sloughing in there,” Hansen said. “The old railway is all gone and the bank, of course, is taking out the railway and then there is this very steep hill above it and it is washed out in there.”
He said two areas of the trail are problematic for those trying to complete the Trans Canada Trail.
The first is riddled with fallen trees and other debris.
The second has a trail built over top, but it is too steep to navigate for most people.
“Because it is steep and hard, people carrying their bikes can slide,” he said.
“What they’ve been trying to do is hike through the slide area.”
The team assembled ladders and carved a narrow trail last fall that have helped many of the bikers navigate their way through.
But recent events won’t be enough to keep the trail navigable for the long-term. He said weather damage will demand participation from locals nearly every year.
Murphy Shewchuk, the man who Hansen said is largely responsible for the trail’s upkeep, wasn’t available by press time.
“The guy’s done an amazing amount of work on it,” Hansen said. “In fact, I think it might be wearing him out.”