Ted Bailey left a trail that was easy to follow

  • Ted Bailey —Courtesy

Monitor columnist
Published: 7/30/2021 3:55:18 PM

The New Hampshire Trail Dawgs, a Suncook Valley-based snowmobile club, knocked on Ted Bailey’s door 27 years ago looking to use his land.

It was a dirty job – still existing today – but someone had to seek permission to use private property to create what has always been the Dawgs’ mission: Build and maintain a big, legal trail route in the Granite State.

Most property owners grant permission. Others don’t. And, in rare cases, some roll out the red carpet, invite you in, figure out a compromise that works for both parties.

Bailey did that, which is why the Trail Dawgs are mourning his recent death at the age of 91.

“Ted had land smack in the middle of where we needed to get to,” said Roger Leroux, the Trail Dawgs’s treasurer and a major piece of the foundation that has elevated the sport.

“If not for Ted, I am not sure how we would have punched through that trail system. We would have needed to go around.”

Bailey was known in many circles. He grew up in Chichester, served as a Marine during the Korean War, joined the State Police and volunteered for the Chichester Fire Department, advancing to captain.

But assisting and allying himself with the Trail Dawgs outlasted everything else. Only recently had Bailey’s time walking the trails and checking on the Dawgs’s progress working on a trail diminished.

He always blended in. Even though Leroux never recalls seeing him on a snowmobile. He described an old-school Yankee, no BS, who valued a person’s word and a firm handshake.

“If you met him, in five minutes you liked him,” Leroux said. “A stand-up guy, straight forward. Once a Marine, always a Marine, and he said that a lot. He was very supportive, would say come on in if we needed him.”

These days, snowmobilers can ride from southern New Hampshire straight to Pittsburg. Cooperation with landowners remains a vital piece to a landscape that is forever changing and in need of updates.

Bailey’s attitude was a breath of fresh air for Leroux and his staff. Bailey was incorporated into this tight-knit society, and his fingerprints – and land – remain all over the sport.

Leroux saw a need for a coordinated effort of some type, something meaningful, something big. He and his friends had grown tired of hauling their machines up north.

There were pieces of smoothed trails in their own backyards, at places like Bear Brook State Park. Other towns could be added to the mix, Leroux and his people figured.

He hosted a meeting in 1994 and formed the New Hampshire Trail Dawgs, becoming its first president. They followed guidelines, meticulously mapped out routes, cleared tree stumps and built bridges to cross streams and brooks and wetlands.

Within two years, an expanded path had been created. Trails now run from Bear Brook State Park to Chichester and Loudon.

The behind-the-scenes activity involved here is grueling. Dawgs, many of whom work in construction, build steel and wooden bridges as a regular part of their job description. They also reroute trails they had already made. Maybe someone changed their mind about allowing it. Maybe someone new moved onto the property.

“Making improvements to the system and doing rerouting, we go through that every year,” Leroux said. “Some say ‘No trail on my property,’ and that’s more true with people coming to New Hampshire, so we have to find another way to get a trail around their property. You would not believe the work that goes into it.”

No such problem with Bailey. Said Leroux, “He was not riding the trails with us, but you could feel he was grateful that he had trails on his property.”

Other individuals with connections to Bailey were saddened upon hearing he had died on June 15. The Chichester Fire Department posted on Facebook that Bailey was “a captain for 20 years. At the time of his passing, he was the oldest living member of the Department and had been a member for nearly 73 years.”

Cindy Gelinas of Pembroke is married to Bailey’s stepson, Robert Jr. Reached by phone, she said Ted had slowed in recent months. His hands shook. Gardening and woodworking became impossible. His visits to distant trails stopped.

She also said that Ted’s demeanor was sometimes misjudged. “Years ago, he seemed rough and gruff,” Cindy told me. “But when you got to know him, you saw that wasn’t the case.”

Leroux and his Trail Dawgs learned that the easy way 27 years ago. All they had to do was knock on his door.

Ray Duckler bio photo

Ray Duckler, our intrepid columnist, focuses on the Suncook Valley. He floats from topic to topic, searching for the humor or sadness or humanity in each subject. A native New Yorker, he loves the Yankees and Giants. The Red Sox and Patriots? Not so much.

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