Saturday, January 8, 2011

Turner Creek

Just about everybody I know was doing the first race of the Snake Creek Gap TT series today. But I was having none of that. The Snake is a great race, on a great course, but I've got other plans this winter and I usually just hit the third one anyway. I think this year I'm going to be in Florida at that time though, so I might have to hit the second one.

No Snake. Today's forecast called for trail maintenance. The CTHA has a work party on the first or second Saturday of each month. The girls and I met them, Jeremy Bordelon and The E up there to get some work done.

First up: picking up about 20 half-gallon buckets of gravel and rip-rap.

 Gravel Pile

Next up: droving up to the southern end of Turner Creek on the ordinarily-closed FS28C.

 Driving in on 28C

And then...

Near the southern end of Turner Creek, a usually-dry prong runs under the trail over a dense mat of roots, covered with about 8 inches of dirt. There's a bridge over it for bikes, but it isn't stout enough for horses, so they generally just cross the mat. With all of the rain recently, it's become a bit of a sinkhole. The horses' hooves just sink all the way through the soil and sometimes get caught in the roots.

Our solution: armor the crossing.

We laid down the rip rap, bounded it with landscape timbers and covered it in gravel.

 Armored Stream Crossing

That little patch there represents about 2 hours of chain-gang labor by 7 and a half people.

Ideally, rain (and probably over the next few days, melting snow) should sink through and harden it up. I was a little concerned whether the extra weight of the rock and gravel would be an issue. The root-mat can withstand the weight of a horse unless it gets really soggy. The rock weighed an extra few hundred pounds. It's hard to tell if it would be too much. Time will tell. If it is, we'll come back and do something else. It would have been nice to have been able to just reinforce the bridge, but it's not a good idea to dismantle a stable, solid bridge.

Eddie was running a little late and got there about halfway through the construction. He'd parked up on 77 and ridden down the trail. At the top, he had ran into a few other riders, one of whom, complained about how we were dumbing down the trail by doing maintenance on it. One of those same riders though, when he got down to us, thanked us for the work we were doing and complimented us on how it looked. Go figure.

The CTHA folks had brought two camp stoves and grilled up burgers, dogs and hot chocolate for lunch.

It was a glorious spread...

 Hamburgers and Hot Dogs

...and given how cold and windy it was, the hot food and drink was fantastic.

Turner Creek has 3 sections: a "traditional" upper section with a random mix of sidehill and fall-line trails, an IMBA-ish middle section which is actually a reroute of an older section that was further down the hill and used to get very muddy, and then another short traditional section at the end. This second traditional section has some steeper hills and trails that have worked their way down a good bit below grade. Really, we need a dingo to mill off the southern edge and create some rolling dips on the hills, but short of that, deberming, nicks and turnouts should suffice for a year or two.

After lunch, we headed back out with the soccer ball and built some structures running down the first hill. In the turn at the bottom of that hill, we drained the mud bog, dug up the silt that enabled it, and dug out the turn until it was outsloped all the way around.

 Debermed and Outsloped Turn

It is alleged that a pro trail builder will put in a bunch of work on that trail there later this year, so there wasn't any point in us doing too much work now. What we did was a good experiment though, and it should help out in the mean time. We'll see if it does what it should.

I'd ridden Turner Creek at the beginning of the winter. The pro trail work was supposed to have been done this past fall, and seeing that it hadn't been done was a little discouraging, but apparently they've been busy up on Bear Hare lately, so it does look like it's getting done, perhaps out of order from what we expected, or perhaps more slowly, but still, it's great to hear that it is, in fact, in progress.

The girls were less helpful today than last time, but it's understandable. It was freezing, windy, even snowing at times, and Iz was still fighting a cold. Sophie worked really hard, and was helpful with moving and placing rocks, fetching tools and rolling the soccer ball, but she wasn't all that effective at moving dirt around. I think they need their own fire rakes. They're just about the right weight for them and they like using them. The rest of the tools are too heavy, but given what work we'd planned on doing, nobody brought a fire rake today.

I'd planned on going fishing when I got home, but Kathryn was about to go for a walk and she reminded me that the Saints game was coming on in an hour, so we all just went for a walk with her. Then we watched their Superbowl hopes crushed. Neaux!

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