Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jones Creek and No-Tell

Me and the Iz met Taylor up at Jones Creek again today, at 8AM, to flag some more reroutes.

With Kathryn out of town, my schedule has been hectic and packed. I think I got 4 hours of sleep last night. Iz has been doing gymnastics 4 days a week, for 4 hours each day. We were both a little tired and since we arrived a few minutes early, she caught a few Z's while we waited.


We started off up on No-Tell. The reroute there is straightforward. The trail is mostly fine until it hangs a hard left up the fall line to the road.


The proposed reroute just continues straight at about 8 or 9% until it hits the road. It winds around a little too, so I think it's actually more mileage.

It's funny, this is actually the best shape that I've seen that trail in for a long time. It's usually full of loose chunk and shelfy. It still is in a few places, but not like it used to be. I guess it's gotten scoured out to an even grade. Still though. Not so good. Ten bucks says that at the end of the summer it's a disaster again.

While flagging, we discovered an old deer stand.

 Deer Stand Wreckage

I love finding stuff like that in the woods. Garbage, artifact or both? Where, exactly, does one draw the line for that?

Next up, there's trail running around the edge of a food plot just east of the Jones Creek Dam that's all garbage these days. We parked at the old game check station lot and attacked that one.

Actually, Isabel attacked something else first.

 Apple Smasher

There's an apple tree in the left front corner of that lot. I've actually tasted an apple from it before. It wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. I'm not sure if they're safe to eat, but near the end of the season, they don't taste that bad.

Taylor was telling us they had a crabapple tree near her house when she was a kid, with which they did everything that kids might be inclined to do with apples. Iz seemed very interested and was oddly specific with her first question: "Did you smash them with a hammer?!"

"Do you want to smash an apple with a hammer, Iz?"


As fate would have it, I had a deadblow mallet in the back of my car. There were plenty of apples. Perhaps the tree could spare one for this indulgence. I picked an apple and placed it on a small rock.


I don't remember seeing that particular look on her face before. It was about 50/50; innocent delight and pure animal savagery. Yaaahh.

To save ourselves several miles of driving and hiking, we attempted to bushwhack across the drainage to Jones Creek Ridge but my top-notch nav skills led us astray almost immediately. In my defense, there are two parallel ridges and the trail isn't precisely where the map says (15 foot margin of error with GPS and all), and some other excuse, and <insert random excuse here>... I'm glad I didn't have such difficulty at that race this past weekend.

We figured it out quickly though, got where we were going and came face to face with the horror.

The horror:

 Braiding on Jones Creek

Triple braided trench festival. Actually the photo doesn't do it justice, and it gets worse south of there.

The trail there runs along the edge of the food plot, and it's not super steep, it's just more than half the backslope, totally exposed to the full force of rain, the full, drying intensity of the sun and all of the runoff from the grass. It's like the armpit-deep trenches that they call trails up in Shining Rock, it just hasn't been there long enough to get that bad yet.

I didn't remember the trail when Debbie first mentioned it to me but I remembered it upon seeing it and I remembered having heard post-Fool's Gold stories about "that trail in the clearing where the bottom drops out."

Ironically, the steepest part of the trail, where it drops right down the fall line to the dam was bad, but wasn't the worst section, presumably because of the protective canopy.

We flagged a reroute through the woods to the east. To the west there were a bunch of little drainages that looked like a pain to deal with and the windiness of the trail would likely create short lines of sight - not so good on a multi-use trail.

It goes without saying that we found a mylar balloon while flagging the route.

 Mylar Balloon

I mean, it's just generally understood that we'd find one of those, right?

This one had the unique distinction of being up in a tree rather than on the ground. Haven't seen that before.

We needed to get going by 1PM so we headed in the general direction of "out" at about 12:45.

I got a good shot of one of the problem areas on Moss Branch on the way.

Ironically, the trail itself is in fabulous shape for about 3 or 4 hundred yards. You couldn't ask for a cleaner section of old roadbed. The stars just aligned, and it would be a shame to close it. But. It parallels the drainage, crosses the drainage, then parallels it again on the other side between 10 and 20 feet away.

There is only one erosion control structure in the entire section. Oddly enough, it appears adequate, and it's channeling water and sediment off of the trail, as it should. But it's so close to the drainage that it's channelling water and sediment directly into it, where a large pile of it can clearly be seen, tailing off downstream for quite a while.

 Sedimentation on Moss Branch

The whole rest of that trail between 77 and Jones is a wreck and though this section of trail is clean and pretty, it too has a fatal flaw. It would be a shame to leave it out of the reroute but it might be the best course of action.

We hadn't seen a soul all day but on the way out we ran into a couple of friendly equestrians in the last food plot before FS77, taking a breather. You don't see many hikers at Bull and Jake. I wonder if they realized we were up to something. Hopefully in the long term, they'll agree that we were up to something worthwhile.

On the way home, me and Iz ate at our favorite sugar hole.

 Bakery Porn

Look at those pastries Tim. Look at them!

Look at them and hunger.


And go to the Dutch Monkey tomorrow morning.

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