Today was a beautiful warm fall day – great for exploring the western end of the MRG. We accessed the trail from the back of the Price Chopper parking lot on the Miracle Mile where a dirt road descends from an opening in the trees. And who should we meet but Paul Coats, Director of Lebanon Recreation and Parks, and, with Frank Gould, main mover on the MRG project.
Paul had come to see if a pile of rails had been trucked away – they had. Progress! (Note the new rock fill on the left to prevent erosion.)
We set off westward toward the Terri Dudley Bridge, currently the west end of the trail.
We took the left fork and headed west.
A remnant from the past: this is an old railroad loading station for whatever business was above it on Mechanic St. There used to be a set of side tracks leading to the structure.
Instead of crossing the bridge, we looped to the right heading back eastward to follow along the river.
We kept spotting an elusive cormorant paddling and diving here.
Eventually, we passed our entry point and kept heading east.
We met Addi walking her dogs, Pidi and Daisy. They are all frequent walkers on the MRG. (An unfortunate encounter with an aggressive driver on a road walk has spooked Pidi into fear of walking on roads.) They have easy access to the trail from home; Addi’s husband cross-country skied the MRG to work in downtown Lebanon about a dozen times last winter!
Fill and grading has helped eliminate some of the wet areas on this part of the trail . . . but eventually, the dry areas became more narrow. Addi and her pups continued eastward to check the condition of the blocked bridge over the Mascoma River. (The front page photo of today’s Valley News featured work being done on that bridge.) Addi agreed to taking a photo of the bridge as we rested on a pile of ties.
We chatted with this biker who told us how much safer he feels on the trail as compared to roads. He was pleased with how his bike was handling here.
This part of the trail was impassable just a few weeks ago. There’s work to be done but we’re getting there!
These stone retaining walls had us marveling at the effort involved in creating this railroad line without the equipment available today: the cutting of the stone, the transport, the buttressing of the hillsides . . . beautifully built and made to last.
And here we are back at the dirt road leading up to the parking lot. Shoes a little muddy, but impressed by all that has been accomplished. Glad to know the blocked bridge over the Mascoma is progressing and that soon this part of the trail will be graded and hard-packed . . . and the eastern section is scheduled to be paved this month!
(Thanks to Polly Gould for the walk and many of the photos.)