Monday, July 11, 2011

Jake Mountain

This past Saturday was work party day at Jake Mountain. As crazy as it sounds, the girls look forward to them and they were excited about getting up early for this one. I think part of the excitement is that we usually eat at Waffle House on the way up, and I could see no reason to make no exception this time.

 Waffle House

We arrived a little before 9 and got organized. Debbie gave us the standard safety briefing...

 Safety Briefing

...and we were off.

The big work that needed to be done this month was cutting out downed trees. If we haven't had a record number of storms this season, I'm glad I wasn't here for the season when we did. We had 4 or 5 sawyer teams headed out to various places to manage that.

I got the easiest job of all time. Next month SORBA's trying to get a gigantic work party organized out there with 4 dingos to deberm all of Jake and Moss Branch. The girls and I had to go pin-flag the sections that needed to be debermed and the locations where nicks needed to be created. That was all. No lugging chainsaws up the mountain, no lugging 30 pound logs off of the trail, just pin-flagging. All right then, we were going to pin until we ran out of flags or ran out of trail.

And pin we did.

 Sophie Placing a Flag

Yellow flags marked the start and end of a section that needed to be debermed. Orange flags marked the locations that needed to be nicked.

As it turned out, along most of the trail, the berming wasn't all that bad. The section we'd already done, and about a quarter mile past it was the worst. From there on, there were several sections that needed work, but they were only subtly bermed. They could even be characterized as "cupped" rather than bermed.

 Subtle Berming

The soccer ball doesn't lie though. If the ball rolls off of the trail, water will do the same. I remembered to bring it today and we made significant use of it. For the most part, I'd just kick it down the trail ahead of me and in the sections that didn't need work, I kept having to run up and catch it before it rolled too far down the hill.

Another thing we noticed is that it had rained the day before and all that morning, and in some of the barely bermed sections, we could just walk on the little bit that was sticking up and crush it down to the same grade as the trail. I'd bet that if there had been 20 of us out there, we could have fixed a couple of sections just by walking on them.

And... not all, but some horses appear to like to walk on the outside edge of the trail too. We saw several sections where the edge was getting crushed down by those particular horses. I debated whether to even mark them. It wouldn't surprise me if in a month's time, some of the sections we flagged needed very little work. It might be worth going back in a few weeks with some hand tools and cleaning them up so there's less work to be done with the dingos.

We encountered one of the sawyer crews on Jake.

 Sawyer Crew

It looked like hard work, but also like a lot of fun. I mean, how often do you get to chop up a tree and fling the pieces off into the woods? Sophie was disappointed that we couldn't stay and help them. "It's fun when we get to use those tools. This is just walking in the woods. We do this all the time!" Ha! Well, now I know what part appeals to her. I'll have to make sure that she gets to drag some dirt around next time.

The only wildlife we saw all day were salamanders. This one was on the trail.


At Jones Creek we saw another one in the water. It hid under a rock, but when I lifted the rock, it was already gone. Sneaky.

We waded across the creek. The girls were a little unsure of that so I went first.

 Crossing Jones Creek

It was fairly deep and the current was moderate so I went back, thinking I'd have to carry them, but before I had a chance to even say anything they just started walking out into the water.

 The Girls Crossing Jones Creek

Nice job kids.

We flagged Jake until it got to the old road bed, took a break at the Moss/Jake intersection and then flagged Moss Branch out to FS28-1. Moss Branch is newer than Jake and there were long sections that needed work. For the most part, on both trails there was just a little edge, maybe a half inch to 3/4ths of an inch high that needed to be knocked off. In some places it was 6 or 8 inches wide though, and here and there a few inches deep. It would be tough work with hand tools but the dingos can knock it right out.

At Moss Branch proper, we ran into a large group of equestrians, taking a break at the creek. At first, the girls wanted to pet the horses, but then they were kind of overwhelmed being so close to so many without a fence or anything between them. Iz was worried that our backpacks might confuse them too. I must have mentioned that to her at some point, though I can't remember ever having done it. Maybe she remembered hearing it at that trail building class way back. The riders were all friendly and they asked us what we were up to, what the different color flags meant, why we had a soccer ball, etc. It was nice talking to them.

One funny thing though... The horses were tied up facing away from the trail, so later we joked about having to navigate between their butts. Heh. Butt-navigation. I'm always a little nervous about navigating between horses' butts. You generally want to stay out of kicking distance, but I'm not really sure how far they can kick, or what might motivate a horse to kick.

 Walking Out on Moss Branch

All right. All done.

I'd run out of flags a mile back and the girls only had 4 or 5 left each. It was nearing two o'clock too and we generally knock off around one, so we'd gotten in a good day's work.

I say all done, but really, we were just done flagging. We still had to get back to the lot. We were on FS28-1, so we just walked back along the road, half-hoping we'd run into somebody from our group who could give us a ride.

No luck there, though. We did run into a couple out driving around, exploring the woods. They asked me about waterfalls and I told them where they all were, but unfortunately neither of us had a map, so I couldn't point them out or draw little circles for them.

It took a while but we made it back to the lot. Sophie had gotten bored, but was otherwise unharmed. I feared we'd be the only ones left, but as it turned out, Neal and Keith were still out and Debbie had loaned her truck to another crew that was also still out.

We piled into the bed of somebody's truck, parked in the shade and relaxed until everybody showed back up. The end of a work party always reminds me of that scene at the end of Ocean's Eleven where they're standing around the fountain at Ceasar's, relaxed and satisfied, and then they gently disperse back into the world. It was like that.

Or, at least, almost like that. Right as we got ready to go, Kathleen Tokuda and another lady rolled up. We'd seen them out on the trail earlier. I recognized Kathleen, but I only knew her by reputation. She and I'd raced the same cross-country series' several years back and I think one year she'd put in so many trail-work hours they gave her an award for it. That stuck in my mind, and was one of the things that motivated me to get involved with trail work. Not getting an award, but just that it was possible to put in a ton of hours and still get enough riding in to be competitive.

At any rate, the girl that was with her had caught her ankle on her chainring and sliced it up, impressively. It definitely needed stitches but it only appeared to involve the skin. It didn't need immediate attention, but their ride was definitely over. They'd come up 400 from Atlanta and didn't know exactly where the various hospitals or urgent care facilities were. I had service, but Google Maps wasn't working and my wife couldn't find anything open on Saturday but Northside Forsyth. Grrr.

We took Hightower Church Road back to Dahlonega. It was a bit out of the way, but I wanted to scout it for the Fool's Gold.

There was a cemetery on the north side of the road, just past FS28-1.


We spun a loop up through the Montaluce property too, just for good measure.

...and that was it. Another work day in the books. I'm already looking forward to next month's. It'll be great to see the finishing work get done on those trails.


  1. David,

    thanks for the assistance locating a hospital ... Stephanie L. got 7 stitches, and since the cut came from falling into a creek (with ample evidence of horses), we started our next venture in search of antibiotics. At 8pm (yes, a long time at the hospital), all but one pharmacy in any given town is closed. We could've used your (wife's) guidance once again. One more lesson in being unprepared. And to top things off, by the end of the day, we realized that we Really Should Have asked you about the Fools Gold course - Stephanie is signed up.

    Thanks again for the help, and see you at the work party Aug6. Also, thanks for the reminder - ahh, those were the days.


  2. Aaah! What an adventure. I'm glad she was able to get patched up.

    The route for the Fool's Gold is up at Here's a more direct link though:

    There is gps data at:
    (right click and select Save Link As...)