FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- “We surpassed a torque value that could hold about 80 elephants.”
That comment from came from Josh Ryan, boss of Timber & Stone, the Vermont company building the half-mile Norwalk River Valley Trail demonstration trail between Route 7 and Raymond Lane in Wilton. It has been two months since groundbreaking, two months of working through roller coaster winter weather.
That weather, including a 50-degree temperature shift in one day, has left its mark on the trail, literally. The tracks of boots, deer and equipment made when the going was soft are now frozen hard into the surface. It will all be capped again before opening day, though.
When it's completed, the trail will run through parts of Norwalk, Wilton, Redding, Ridgefield and Danbury.
Timber & Stone’s focus now – supported by Conte Company of Norwalk – is the boardwalk. That’s where the elephants come in. Josh’s explanation of the project included joist and carriage bolt dimensions, stocks, torque, and battered piles. But one thing came through very clearly; this will be a robust boardwalk. Good enough for elephants.
It will be 160 feet long and 10 feet wide, bridging wetlands roughly halfway along the trail. It is needed for engineering and conservation reasons. A trail on top of wetlands would be difficult to build and maintain, and of course would also fall foul of regulations that protect wetland wildlife and plants, and our water resources.
So trail users will cross a curving boardwalk, approached on a gently up-sloping trail edged with stone walls. Then they will ride or stroll on a structure supported by stocks driven down to the bedrock six to seven feet below, or even further where there is only soil. It will be a beautiful structure too, especially as the black locust timber slowly ages to gray.
So put on your dirtiest boots, or maybe your snowshoes, and take a look. Weather permitting, the decking will be going in this week.
Rob McWilliams is an avid hiker who lives in Fairfield County. His hiking blog is online.