Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Jake Mountain Work Party

Last Saturday was work party day at Bull/Jake and despite being in the low 20's we had a really good turnout and got a lot done.

It's funny though, the bridge on the Etowah will be out for the next 6 months, so I drove in a very different way than usual, and got to see a bit of North Georgia that I almost never see. Instead of going up 400 to 136, I took 575 to 53, to 183, to 136. I drove through Tate and what I guess is the general Burnt Mountain area. I'd only ever been through Tate once before. There was (is?) a marble quarry there, and the whole city is gilded in marble, including the bathroom walls at the gas station I stopped at. The woods in those mountains appears to be full of old homestead ruins too. And there are a lot of old buildings in and around Tate. It was very interesting.

But, back to the work party...

Last time, we'd started work on the Bull-Jake Connector, basically just cleaning out and restoring nicks and turnouts. We only managed about 1 mile's worth of work though. This time, Debbie wanted to get completely done with that trail. But, since it had been 2 wet months since the last work party, and it's the most used trail in the entire system, we really needed to re-clear the drains we'd worked on last time.

We had our work cut out for us, for sure.

However, we also had an incredibly productive crew, one of the most productive I've ever worked with. And, the drains we'd already worked on mainly just needed the leaves (and the little bit of sediment they had collected) to be cleared, which didn't actually take that much time.

As usual, I'd brought the soccer ball, and within an hour, we'd cleared and soccer-ball-tested everything up to the point we'd finished last time.

We'd also debermed most of the rest of the trail 4 or 5 years ago, and where the grade was shallow, we had relatively little work to do.

You know your trail is in good shape when it has a deposition problem, rather than erosion. Basically, most of what had happened since the deberming was leaves fell on the trail, sediment ran off of the backslope and got trapped by the leaves, then hardened up a bit. Toward the middle of the trail, traffic crushes it down or pushes it out of the way, but toward the outside edge, it builds up. I always thought of cupped trails as having formed by crushing into the center of the existing trail, but it appears that the outside edge can actually get built up as well. We saw a lot of that.

It's super-easy to clear though, and we made quick work of it.

There are a few sections that are too steep to be sustainable and just need to be rerouted at some point. They're short sections, and they're not terrible, but there's no easy way to fix them, other than to reroute them. One of them looks like an easy reroute too, so maybe we can pursue that soon.

In those sections, we put in a lot of work to restore the existing turnouts, and really, spent most of our time on that.

It felt to me like we'd only done like half of the trail, but Debbie insisted that we were close to the road. I was like: "No way! Can't be. We're only like halfway there!" But then we came around a corner and I could see the road through the woods!

Man, I was pleasantly surprised! I couldn't believe it. I was so glad to be wrong. I think that's the largest number of soccer-ball-approved miles I've ever seen a crew get done in one day.

Cindy usually shows up near the end of the day with lunch, so Debbie called her, thinking she might be on her way in. She was! And she and was able to pick us all up in her truck at FS28-1. We didn't even have to walk back!

I did have to hold the pot of taco soup in my lap, but it was a small price to pay.

Speaking of taco soup... The lunch spread was a banquet. We had taco soup (both vegetable and meat varieties), various kinds of chips, canteloupe, honeydew, watermelon, jalapeno cornbread, homemade oatmeal raisin cookies, and various other things that I know I'm forgetting. I consumed mass quantities of everything and experienced a great deal of that peak-relaxation that can only be achieved by wearing out your whole body and then filling your stomach.

Yes, it was a great day. Sadly, there won't be another one until April because of the Southern Cross and some other trails day. That's cool though, those things are important too. Barring anything unforseen, I'll be there in April.

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