Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Making of the Red River Mutual Trail

A step-by-step guide to winter fun

The Red River Mutual Trail is a skating and multi-use path along portions of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers. Some years, The Red River Mutual Trail has made the Guinness Book Of World Records as the longest natural ice skating trail in the world (8.5 km) and other times it has been as short as 3km. The only certainty is that the trail will be different every year as determined by Mother Nature.  Here’s how we do it.

Step 1
Clear snow off the ice

To ensure safety, the City of Winnipeg’s River Patrol unit will not permit any equipment on the ice (this includes snowblowers) we must remove the snow by hand shovel

Step 2
Grow Ice
Snow in an excellent insulator, so by clearing the ice of snow-cover, those cold prairie temperatures will  make the ice thicker. We need to grow the ice to a level that will support our Zamboni and tractor, about 12-14”.
To lay a solid foundation, we auger holes every 30 ft  pump river water along the length of the trail.

Step 3
Make Ice Skatable
Once our foundation freezes we can concentrate on making the ice surface skatable. Using a combination of our flood wagon and Zamboni, we make several passes until we have a smooth skating surface. Our Zamboni is not your typical Zamboni, it has been converted to run off of waste vegetable oil from The Forks Restaurants

The Red River Mutual Trail Crew
None of this would be possible without a dedicated crew. Who are these masochistic ice-aged beasts-of-burden? It’s actually a pretty fun job. It’s hard physical work in cold temperatures, but the work is rewarding .

The Night Shift
One of the more interesting work shifts for the Red River Mutual  Trail crew is the Night Shift. As the RRMT is too busy during the day on weekends to perform any maintenance on the ice, maintenance is done over night. Down on the trail, the rush of the city is all but replaced by a calm winter night.  

The Red River Mutual Trail links neighbourhoods and communities together that are normally separated by the River or busy streets. Come see the city from a totally different perspective, come experience the winter at The Forks! 

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