Trailbuilding

Allow us to reintroduce our man Matt Baatz. Matt is the token steward of the Green Mountain Trails in Pittsfield. He’s the man responsible for resurrecting the network after Hurricane Irene, for adding new trails like Devil’s Throat, and building the dwelling/party spot known as Muddy’s. You’ll be hearing a lot more from Matt in the near future as we’ve welcomed him to MTBVT as our newest correspondent.

Go to Green Mountain Trails. Look for Matt. Give him a high five.

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Words by Matt / Picks by Tbo 

When you cut fresh trail, the first tracks you see aren’t knobby but cloven. And you wonder did the deer wander onto your path or did you excavate theirs? Then you realize it really doesn’t matter. You’re going the right way. You’re careful not to take too much of the credit since, in our culture, we’ve mostly forgotten how to move through a forest and you’re grateful to have a guide.

You’re engaged in a form of archaeology and when the dirt ribbons describing the terrain reveal themselves, it can smite you like Machu Picchu. It’s not the a collection of components–a bridge, a jump, a berm or a rock garden–but an arrangement, a song that hits all the right notes and moves you to dance through the forest. Think of your bike as a kind of stylus translating the music and the song reverberates through your senses and you dance. It’s the right stretch of trail at the right time, but not contrived. The best songs come to the trailbuilder unbidden and involve training your vision, not imposing your will.

David Lauzon enjoys some of Matt’s reconstruction efforts after Irene – Tbo photo

We, as humans are blessed and cursed with consciousness. It, like in no other being that we know of, can create fear with no clear and present danger and create an enemy out of almost anything including ourselves. We have lost the grace of being in the moment and because of that we create music and dance.

Watching the acrobatics of a squirrel, a deer pick its way through gnarly terrain, a flock of birds murmurating and we, perhaps not in words, are frustrated by our clumsy bodies and our cautiousness which, sure, has allowed us to survive, but leaves us wondering if we’re truly alive.

A dance is a primal form of transcendence and music is a way to reconnect us to something lost in the complex artifices of our minds. A dance melds us with the music and silences, for a merciful minute, the nagging voice that we’re convinced is our own, but not really. What is us is the way we feel when we’re entranced in the music and connected to everything through a graceful movement of our bodies and experience as bliss.

A trail is a form of music and a skillful ride a type of dance. The transcendence we feel is a religious experience. Where we ride is sacred. We describe the connection as love. If you care about the environment, our souls, our legacy, your role as as trailbuilder is to create music in the forest, let the people dance, reconnect them to their essence, help them to realize the ground they dance on is sacred and they’ll inevitably learn to love again. Given these conditions, redemption is not far away.

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