Friday, February 8, 2013

Jones Creek Ridge

Last Saturday was the monthly Bull/Jake work party and this time, oddly enough, we got to work on the Bull Mountain side. Jones Creek Ridge to be exact.

It seems like an eternity ago now that the Jake trails were realigned, rerouted and generally re-awesomed. Bull proper got some attention last year but sadly I've only ridden it once or twice since then. Jones Creek and the general Booger Holler area are next on the list. Taylor, Isabel and I flagged the reroutes last year but the plan is to still use a good bit of the existing trail. This past Saturday while Debbie was out flagging some small realignments, I took a crew up to Jones Creek to slang some actual dirt around.

For whatever reason, I ended up with a tireless, highly capable and relatively experienced crew. We did heavy deberming, cleaned out a dozen old turnouts and established several new ones in problem spots.

 Work on Jones Creek  More Work on Jones Creek  Even More Work on Jones Creek  Still More Work on Jones Creek

I was shocked how much work we got done. I kept having to run up the trail to rough out new spots. The crew just kept catching up to me. It was amazing!

There was this one guy from the Bent Tree Saddle Club named Bobby DeLay, I think. He was great. He had this long, white beard and he must have been in his 60's at least, but he probably did the work of 3 younger men. I watched him. He didn't seem to be working harder, he just did it really efficiently. It was like he did more, but smaller shovel-fulls or something. I wish I could have watched him longer to get a good idea of the differences between how he worked and how I did. It would have been a valuable lesson.

There's a big food plot and a road leading up to it from FS77. We worked from that road south to within an 8th of a mile of the reroute, and that entire 8th of a mile is really flat and didn't need any specific improvement. I wish I could take that same crew to Jake proper and Beaver Pond, we'd probably finish them up in 3 days.

At around 12:30 we knocked off and started hiking out and at an intersection I noticed an odd side effect of the prescribed burns they do up that way. One of the trees we'd nailed markers into was totally burned up and the markers were warped and twisted.

 Prescribed Burn

Ha! Wild.

Back at the trailhead, lunch was served.


The weather had been great all morning; sunny and not terribly cold. Many of us had remarked about what a nice day it would have been to ride. We hadn't seen anyone riding but we did see a lady walking 4 dogs and when I got back to the lot, I ran into the same lady with her small dog that I've seen hiking up there 3 or 4 times before. So, indeed, it had been a nice day to get out in the woods. Unfortunately all of that was about to change.

Clouds moved in first, then the temperature dropped precipitously. At first I thought I was just getting cold from standing around, but no, it was just getting COLD. Then it started snowing. A little at first, but then eventually big fat flakes that stuck to the gravel in the lot. We were all enjoying it but I was in my mom's truck, had to go back through Ellijay and I figured I'd better get home before the roads got bad.

Unfortunately I didn't quite make it out in time.

 Snow on 52

Not far west of that the roads had become icy and there was a long traffic jam on a steep hill. I expected to make it through but the car ahead of me started sliding and stayed on the road more as a result of good fortune than of skill on the part of the driver. In the other direction people were driving too slowly and losing traction over and over. No one got hurt but the whole situation was sketchy. I parked on a flat spot, jumped out and tried to dig up leaves to cover the road with but there was nothing under the snow but dirt. It was time to turn around.

It took forever but I made it home by going the other way. It hadn't even rained at my place, much less snowed, but later in the day, it poured. Ha ha! We got our work done just in time.

Man, I love a good work day.

Oh, Bull and Jake Mountain, may your trails some day stand, a glorious monument to cooperation and to the trail building technology of the late 2000's. Long may you live.

Long may you live.

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