Saturday, March 27, 2010

Clinton Farms

The rain this winter has really had it's way with some of the trails at Clinton Farms. A few months back, my brother and dad had to build a bridge across a creek that, once only inches below trail level had deepened by almost a foot.

Further downstream, an existing bridge needed repair. It was an 8 foot bridge, once spanning a 6 foot gap, but the rampaging deluge had widened the entire creek bed by over a foot and a half. The last time my dad had rolled through there, that bridge was barely hanging on, another bridge had been damaged by another washout, and one of the trails needed a reroute. This past Thursday, he mentioned he wanted to get out there and work on it this weekend. Sounded good to me.

Me and the kids packed up the tools, picked up my dad, rolled through Home Depot, put in a little 4WD down on Old Pool Road and humped our the gear to the creek.

 Hauling Wood

Somebody had stacked up some impressive rock piles on both sides of the creek and placed the bridge on them. It was stable, but it sat a little low and another good rain would certainly carry it off again.

My dad's plan was to attach a 12 foot 2x6 to either side of the existing bridge, bury both ends a bit to hold it in place, add slats and shore up the banks with rip-rap to mitigate further erosion. We did exactly that. We also placed large rocks under each end and rock-armored the approach on either side.


The rock piles were perfect rip-rap. We just left them there and added a few more.

All done.

 New Bridge

The girls were very helpful. Not just carrying equipment, but finding, carrying and placing rocks, backfilling holes and handing out screws. If they hadn't been there, everything would have taken longer. As it was, we knocked it out in just over an hour.

On to the next one.

The trail crosses a spring-fed trickle of a creek in three places. For the first two, the trail crosses, winds round for 50 yards or so and crosses back. We were in a drought when it was first laid out and the trickle was dry, but since then we've gotten plenty of rain. The two crossings have become wide, stinking mud pits, filled with broken, rotting sticks people have thrown in trying to make them easier to get across. Not super, super bad, but I've seen plenty of those before and they were just going to get worse. Somebody cut across the loop at the top of the hill, but it involved two really hard lefts and cut off about 200 yards of trail. The last time my dad was out there, he had put in a more gradually sweeping cutoff that didn't cross the creek, and only shortened the trail by about 20 yards. We cleaned it up a bit, covered up the old trail, covered up the short cutoff, removed the debris people had placed in the crossings, raked down the ruts and restored the original drainage path. Again, the kids were very helpful, and a lot of fun. Sophie stepped in the wrong place once, got one of her shoes sucked off and had to go back and dig it out. It was funny to us.

We talked about other options, but the only ones we could think of involved building puncheons or some other structures, and we would have had to haul in rocks from at least a quarter mile away. It looked like people were already using the cutoffs. They seemed like the right solution.

The third crossing wasn't an issue. There's a large granite deposit down there and the creek kind of goes into the ground and spreads out across it. There are sometimes muddy spots spread out along it's length, but they dry up periodically (they were dry today) and have remained stable in size.

The last project was a fill. The Nature Trail, one of the oldest trails in the park, dives directly down the fall line to a bridge, which sits about 6 inches up from the trail. When it rains hardcore, it comes rolling down the trail, hits the bridge and gets funnelled to the right. With all the rain we got recently, it washed away a tremendous amount of soil holding up the right corner of the bridge. The creek itself washed away even more soil on the back side. The bridge was sagging, but stable. The washout itself was dangerous. From the other direction, if you stayed to the far right you were safe, but even a foot over, you could fall into a pretty good little chasm. Some folks had laid deadfall across it, but it wasn't enough to support anyone if they got too far left.

We rolled a couple of big rocks down the hill, collected a couple of dozen more from the around the creek and filled in the hole, then re-placed the sticks and added a few more of our own. The rocks would allow water to flow in and drain to the creek but resist erosion, and they held up the sticks, which provided a more stable surface to walk or ride on. It wasn't perfect, but it was way better and the best we could do without new construction.

 Washout Fill

After all that, we all spun a couple of laps around the track and tried riding out past the lake and back.


The kids didn't have any much of a problem with the dirt. At first, Sophie had a little trouble braking gently and standing up when it got bumpy, but she figured it out. No trouble with the dirt itself, but they struggled with the hills. What seem like gentle rollers to me are unclimbable for them. Standing up with all of her weight on one pedal, Iz just didn't weigh enough to make it go anywhere. She could use some gears.

When it was getting dark, we headed over to my folks place, dropped off my dad's gear and grabbed some dinner at the Italian Oven. When I lived in Marietta, it was one of my favorite restaurants. But I haven't been there in so long, I'd nearly forgotten about it. It was like cleaning a bunch of old receipts out of my wallet and finding a twenty dollar bill.

 Italian Oven

Great day.

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