Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bull Mountain, Buford Hatchery and Alpharetta Greenway

Today was a busy, busy day. Busy.

I met the Chattahooche Trail Horse Association folks at Jake Mountain at 9AM for a work party. I'm bad with names, so I only remember Debbie Crowe, who I met before at the Bull/Jake Assessment, JK because we talked for a while before everybody else got there and Humberto because his name is so awesome, but there were 7 CTHA folks in total. Very cool folks, very friendly. They turned out to be a pleasure to work with.

JK has a chainsaw certification, so he took off to cut out a bunch of downed trees. The rest of us headed up to Jones Creek Ridge. It had rained all night, and it was super wet in the parking lot, but it dried up really quickly and the trails themselves turned out to be totally dry. Two folks went up to do some weedeating. The rest of us started down the trail to deberm some sections and cut nicks into the flat spots. On me and Eddie's walk-through, we'd walked out on Jones Creek. There are two hills out there that we said "These will take a lot of work." That's where we started.

I've weedwhacked, cleared water bars, built bridges, flagged corridor, rerouted, cut new trail, rerouted old trail, nicked, debermed and God knows what else in the past, but only on tight little two foot wide trails. Jones Creek is about 6 feet wide and required a lot more labor. I've also swung the heck out of a Pulaski, but never used a McCleod before. Humberto is a sculptor with that thing. My initial efforts were not ineffective, but after watching how it's really done, I got a lot more efficient with it. I love that tool.

Our first nick, a big, tough one...

 Me and Humberto's Nick

Some folks came by on horseback while we were working. Friends of the CTHA folks.


A little while later, Wes and Rob came riding up. Of all the people that could have passed by, it was two guys I know. Wes was even wearing an old BOR jersey. "What's up Muse? It's about time you fixed this trail!" Hahaha. I chatted with them for a while, Debbie talked to them for a while, and they were on their way. I was jealous, I kind of wanted to be riding with them.

We cut more and more nicks...

 Another Nick

And debermed a bunch of trail. By and large, Jones isn't worn in too deeply below grade, an inch or less in most places, but it's a wide trail. Removing just that inch is still a lot of dirt, and deberming it for real will require a dingo or a ditch witch of some kind. One of the CTHA guys is actually certified to run a ditch-witch in the National Forest. He's the guy that cleaned up Jake and part of Moss Branch. There's a pro-trail builder coming through this fall to work on a bunch of the trails too. Everything in yellow...

The cyclists I know who are interested in doing work out there have been reticent to do so for two main reasons. "Those trails won't even be there next year." Well, got a point there, nobody wants to work on trails that will end up closed, rerouted or dingo'd and nobody knows what trails will hang around. I only just saw this map last week. I doubt many have seen it. In theory though, after the reroutes the trails should be really nice, maybe there will be some interest then. And the other reason... "The horses will just tear it back up." Well, on the steeper trails, yeah. Again, after the reroutes that shouldn't be an issue. If the reroutes are done, and the trails are nice, and stay nice, that will say a lot. Hopefully it will change some minds. In the mean time, there are trails that aren't getting bulldozed, and when I get a chance, I'll be working on them.

Somebody's been out there tearing down the plastic blazes. They tried hard to get these off.

 Bent Up Signs

We found one just lying in the woods near where it had been torn off. Whoever's doing it isn't keeping them, just tearing them down. Woohoo!

CTHA is great. They even fed us.


We ate where the old game check station was. In the past week they removed the last remains of it, tilled up the ground and laid down straw.

I've got energy for days, but just like running, it's easy for me to overdrive muscles that aren't trained up for it. I used a lot of those muscles today and I'm tired in places I'm not usually tired in. I hope I'm not sore tomorrow, but if I am, I'll still feel good about it.

Back at home, there was still time to get in some fishing before the pond at the Buford Hatchery closed. I've become convinced that sausage is the best thing to fish with there. Murky water, good scent, and there are big catfish there. I wanted to catch one.

Kathryn's got a cold, so the walk to the pond felt like forever to her. It didn't help she was carrying a camping chair.

How I missed these last week is beyond me. Wild grapes!

 Wild Grapes

They tasted woody, with lots of seeds, but the aftertaste was really nice.

I put a big chunk of sausage on a fairly large hook and on my first cast hooked a huge catfish, in seconds. Or I would have hooked it, except that Kathryn immediately needed me to put a hook on her line. So while she was holding my rod, she caught a huge catfish. Almost. She had a lot of trouble with my reel, but even after she figured that out, the fish pulled the knot loose as she lifted it out of the water. We saw it. It was huge. The one that got away always is.

The girls were hauling them in left and right. Pretty nice catches too.

 Iz's Awesome Panfish

 Sophie's Awesome Panfish

I caught a panfish about that size too, trying to catch another big catfish.

A kid of maybe 10 and his family were fishing next to us and I offered them some of our bait. The kid had an older baitcasting reel without a magnetic brake and was impressively proficient with it. I'm not sure I could cast with it, but he really knew what he was doing.

Kathryn redeemed herself after letting that first one go.

 Kathryn's Awesome Catfish

This one too, eventually pulled the knot out, right after I took that picture. I retied it with a different knot. We'll see how that works out.

I'm going to try fishing with either barbless or circle hooks though. The barbed ones are rough on the smaller panfish and the catfish are so tough and meaty, they get torn up pretty badly too. I hate to see it.

I never caught my big catfish, but given Kathryn's results, I feel pretty validated about my approach. Maybe next time.

Yesterday, we upgraded the girls' bikes. Iz has gears now and Sophie's riding Iz's old bike.

 New Bikes

We hit the proving ground yesterday. Today Iz was itching to ride again. Sophie had already had "too much outdoor time." She stayed home. Me and Iz hit the Greenway. She was a little hesitant at first, but before long she was comfortable and confident, railing turns and pedaling downhill.

Water break.

 Iz Drinking

She did really well on the mountain bike trail too.

For a while, at least. Realizing she could ride over larger roots, she took some questionable lines and eventually ended up crashing. Once just tipping over and falling on the end of her handlebar. Her instinct was to reach down and put her hands on the ground, which just drove the bar into her stomach. That must have hurt. She shook it off, but the next one was harder to shake. Arguably not as bad of a crash, but it had more of an emotional impact. Like the first time, she just got stalled out and tipped over, but that time her shirt got torn. She recently had to give up a bunch of shirts that don't fit her any more, so pretty much every one she still has, she loves. Between that and the wedgie she kept getting, we decided she needs some real cycling gear.

A few minutes later she was fine, riding and starting to get her confidence back. She's pretty well figured out her gears too, at least on the pavement. She figured out how to use them to climb on her own. She's figuring out a lot on her own these days. Growing up.

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