Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Moss Branch

Last Saturday was the monthly work party at Jake/Bull Mountain. I'd missed April's party with the flu, so I was excited to make this one. The girls wanted to come too, so we all went up together.

The drive over was kind-of awful though. From my place, it's actually fastest to get there by going around 285 and up 400, but the bridge over the Etowah on 136 is still closed, so I figured I'd go up 75, through Tate, and up 186 instead. But, in Tate, I (and like 15 other cars) got stuck behind a lady going 35 miles an hour, for the next 20 miles, all the way through the mountains, with no possibility of anyone getting around her. Then, when I eventually got on Hwy 52 the guy ahead of me was going 40.

Sunday drivers, getting a head start, one day early. I guess they didn't have anywhere to be. We did though, and we ended up getting there a few minutes late.

Since the work we wanted to do was a ways up in the woods, we all met at the old game-check station lot instead of the Jake Lot. It was kind of a small turn-out though. Only 6 of us total. Stan and another guy who's name I have forgotten because damn it, I'm terrible with names, had some downed-trees to attend to, so they headed off toward Black Branch. Debbie, the girls and I headed down Moss Branch.

We took the old trail down to the creek. There were a great many downed trees and Debbie appeared to be a little uneasy about the possibility of encountering timber rattlers among them. We were careful though, and as fate would have it, we didn't run into any.

The Moss Branch Trail was rerouted in 2008, I think, but the approach to the creek itself couldn't be, so a chunk of the old trail is re-used right there. To the south, it kicks up off of the creek in 3 sections. Section 1 is steep, probably more 10%, and goes for about 100 yards. Section 2 is shallower, and goes for another hundred yards or so. Section 3 is where the reroute peels off to the east. It's either flat or might even reverse grade for a short bit. Sections 2 and 3 were in good shape, but the rolling dip at the interface between section 1 and 2 had gotten backfilled, over topped, and channeled. The trail below was starting to get channeled too. So, that was our priority.

The girls and I dug out the backfill, while Debbie did the same to the dip at the interface between sections 2 and 3. Then, we all rebuild the hump together.

This would be no ordinary hump of dirt though. We busted up the old hump a bit, hammered as much chunky rock into it as would fit, covered that over, hammered a bunch of flat rocks into that too...

Embedding Rock in the Rolling Dip

...and covered them over as well.

Finished Dip

Then we placed flat bits of rock on the downhill side, where the trail itself was starting to get channeled.

Rock on the Downside and Debris to Left

Also, when digging out the dip itself, we made sure to angle it at a much more gradual angle than it had been originally. Hopefully it will take longer to backfill again. We tested it with the soccer-ball too, and it worked as expected.

On the uphill side, we cut back the encroaching branches and piled them up on the downhill side. Hopefully this will encourage climbing traffic to go uphill of the hump. If it gets cupped up there, then it will still function. The dip itself ought to encourage descending traffic to go the uphill side of the hump. The rock inside of the hump ought to protect the hump from any traffic that goes directly over it, at least to a greater extent than pure-dirt would. Also, any dirt that does get loosened and runs downhill should help cement in the rocks on the downside.

That's the idea, at least. It's all by the book. We'll have to see how it actually performs.

On some previous work day, Stan had flagged a bunch of spots that needed attention, so we hit as many of those as we had time for on the way out. Most were nicks or rolling dips that needed clearing. Some were sections that needed deberming. Most of the berming was actually deposition, where leaves had piled up, turned into topsoil, and caught a bit of runoff. As opposed to where the center of the trail had gotten packed down. That kind of deberming is super easy, and I was able to knock out 50 foot sections with two quick passes of the McCloud. Some of the nicks had standing water in them though, and took a while, even with 2 of us working at a time.

Still, we were working quickly and got a lot done, but we did eventually run out of time, and only finished about half of the flagged work.

I had to fight the urge to go back up the next day and finish it. I bet I could have knocked the rest of that trail out by myself in 3 or 4 hours.

When we were done, the girls and I couldn't hang around for long. We had to try to get back home for 2:00, and it was already 12:30. Fortunately we didn't get stuck behind anybody driving 20 miles an hour under the speed limit on the way back, and it worked out pretty well.

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