Art project showcases ‘trail fairies’ who maintain North Shore mountain trails

Click to play video: 'Happy trails from them: Paying tribute to B.C.’s trail building volunteers' Happy trails from them: Paying tribute to B.C.’s trail building volunteers
WATCH: One of the most unusual art galleries in the world pays tribute to the unsung heroes who toil in the forest -- so that others may plunge headlong through the trees – Jun 20, 2016

The North Shore mountains are home to some of the best mountain biking trails in the world.

But where exactly do they come from?

“Trails don’t magically appear in the forest,” Penny Deck said.

She should know. Deck and Martin Newman are so-called “trail fairies” who volunteer their time to build and maintain trails.

“We put a total of nine months into building and just shy of 2,000 hours of work that’s all volunteer,” she said.

They could have spent those hours riding their bikes, but decided instead to help other cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the mountains. They said it doesn’t feel like much of a sacrifice.

“It’s very rewarding,” Newman said. “I started to put more hours in as a trail builder than I do as a biker. It’s been a surprise to me that I like it so much.”

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Many trail builders go about their work unseen but Deck and Newman’s recent work on Mount Seymour was documented by friend Euan Forrester.

“These two people have done just an incredible amount of work,” Forrester said. “They made me exhausted trying to keep up with just a fraction of what they’ve done.”

Forrester diligently followed the construction of the Mount Seymour trail from beginning to end. He then chose his favourite 20 photos and posted weatherproof prints of them along the mile-long trail as part of his Evidence of Trail Fairies project.

Cyclists, joggers and hikers can now enjoy both the trail and a photo exhibit featuring the people who made it possible.

“Knowing that people are enjoying it, that’s the best thing about it,” Deck said.

– With files from Linda Aylesworth

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