Saturday, January 14, 2012

Jake Mountain

This past Saturday was work-day at Jake Mountain. We didn't have one in December so I actually found myself very much looking forward to this one. For months, we've been doing finishing work on the Jake Mountain and Moss Branch trails. There's one section left between the intersection of those two trails and Jones Creek that still needs work. We'd planned on getting to it this time, but Debbie had been up there earlier in the week and it turned out that there were a few sections of trail that needed more attention so we decided to work on them instead.

I think there were 16 or more of us. We split up into 4 crews. I took a crew down the Bull/Jake Connector.

That trail had been built 5 or 6 years ago but finishing work had never really been done on it. This past year, we ran a Dingo down about 2/3rds of it, but just past where the Dingo work stopped, there is trouble.

There's a step-up there that's just slightly too steep for the traffic and a groove is wearing into it, little-by-little. Give it five more years and it'll look like the old trenches on the old Moss Branch Trail. Deberming it by hand isn't feasible. We're going to have to armor it with pavers, rock and gravel. It will be quite a project.

In the mean time though, we debermed about 200 yards of trail uphill from the bad section and cleaned out as many old nicks as we could find.

Isabel unearthed a hibernating toad.

 Hibernating Toad

At first we thought it was dead. Then it started stretching and we thought it was a zombie. It was only then that we remembered that toads can hibernate.

Zombie toad!

It had rained a lot over the previous week and even a little bit that morning but aside from the specific spots we were working, the trail was in extremely good shape. Several groups of horseback riders passed us and a group of mountain bikers too. Except for the low spots that we were actively clearing out, you could not have looked at the trail and determined how many riders or how recently they came through. I remember Woody mentioning that way back. A well designed trail can be ridden wet. That would appear to be the case.

The soil was wet and heavy. The work was difficult. Everybody swung hard though. Nobody sat up.

 Trail Crew at Work

One semi-interesting event did occur while we were out working. We often move to a new section of trail, drop our backpacks on the backslope and work toward the downslope. We had done this and a little while later, group of riders came by on horseback. The lead horse was very frightened of our backpacks, lying there in a little pile. It stopped for a while and thought pretty hard about it, and once it jumped backwards about 6 or 8 inches, all at once. The way it jumped was kind of up and back with all feet at the same time and it seemed so unusual that Isabel kept talking about it all day. It was interesting to me too because I know horses can be afraid of bikes, and I've always heard that they can also be afraid of bright colors and of backpacks and of things on the backslope (because predators generally attack from uphill) but I hadn't seen it until then.

Speaking of predators on the backslope... I've mentioned that to the girls before, kind of in passing and Isabel apparently paid attention because whenever a group would come by, she'd tell Sophie to move to the downslope and tell her exactly why, and tell Greg, and tell Jeremy, and even tell the equestrians in our crew.

It's amazing to me how much they pick up.

We'd walked out to the end of the chunk we needed to work on and worked back toward the parking lot. The half mile or so nearest the lot was in much better shape than further out, though the sections had been constructed identically. There were a few little nicks that needed work though, and we quickly discovered why everything was in such good shape. The soil there was exceedingly rocky; just shot through with gazillions of little pebbly chunks and dude, it took like 20 minutes to do there what it had taken us 10 to do further down. We were so close to the lot too, it was like running out of gas within sight of the gas station and having to push your car up to the pump. Yes. Admittedly, I've done that.

We got everything done that we'd hoped to accomplish and the other crews reported similar success. It was a really productive day. I think collectively we turned in 101 hours or something. Woohoo!

Back at the lot we pigged out on lunch, graciously provided by the CTHA, and sat around a'jawin for the next hour or so.

A group of riders who had apparently come from a long way away and were completely unfamiliar with the trails rode up and headed out.


It gives me a very good feeling when I see someone enjoying those trails, even if they're enjoying it in a different way than I do. In fact, I think it might even feel even better when I see someone enjoying the trails in a different way than I do. I guess it's because I can see that the impact extends beyond myself and my community. Whatever it is, I love it and I'm already looking forward to next month.

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