The weather was great at 5:00am when I left for the Nemadji. When I stopped at Murph’s house near Stacy to pick up a snowmobile track it was still nice. All hell broke loose somewhere north of Pine City.
As has happened to me several times in the past, the weather in the Nemadji is different than the weather on the freeway. Well, it was different but not much. There was a steady rain at the parking lot on the south end of the Bearhunter where I parked.
I cleverly brought my rainsuit, my new boots that are nicely waterproof and my goofy fishing hat that has a brim all of the way around and is also waterproof (sort of). At least the hat kept my glasses dry. Even though I brought my ATV, it was raining and I knew that the problem area in the Harlis Bypass was a short walk from the parking lot so, I grabbed my handsaw and pink tape and walked to the trail.
For those that haven’t been there, “Palmer Logging” did a weird kind of selective cut there where they cut out swaths of the pine plantation. This segmented the singletrack trail. Strangely, it also caused the formation of a small lake at the Bearhunter entrance to the Harlis Bypass.
I happened to know of the logging road where the singletrack intersected with the edge of the pine plantation. I walked down that blocked off road to the trail and strolled west down the trail to do a little trimming and to take a look at “Roy’s Beaver Dam Bridge”, which I improved last year. The water was flowing through the spot nicely and the bridge looked great. So I patted myself on the back and headed back to the east.
Just east of the logging road I hit the first cut swath. I walked a short ways and found where the singletrack led back into the intact trees. I hand cleared many of the branches and the brush that the logger left but realized I needed the chainsaw to finish the job. When I was at the truck I had figured that I might need the chainsaw but, not knowing what to expect, I did not want to carry it on the first pass through the trail.
I continued on and came to another spot where a swath had obliterated the trail. This one was easily cleared by hand. I kept going, hand clearing where needed until I got to the intersection of the Enduro Only Trail and the Harlis Bypass. Looking south up the hill and down the Harlis Bypass, I could see that the logger had used what once was the trail as a logging road. I walked south until I could see the Bearhunter (and the lake). I figured that I may as well clear the Enduro Only Trail too so I turned around and headed back to the intersection.
Last fall I had put up barrier signs at the ends of all three of the Enduro Only Trails. I also piled up a whole bunch of logs, sticks and cut pines to obscure the trails. I walked around the signs and stuff and proceeded to clear and connect the Enduro Only Trail. I ran into two more spots that needed chainsaw work but, I did what I could with what I had. When I popped out on the Bearhunter, I decided to head back to the truck and get the chainsaw and pink tape. I also grabbed some tools that would work to unbolt signs from posts, the logic being that, if I could pull the signposts out by hand, I would take the signs down and maybe open up the Enduro Only Trail to public use. As it turned out, when it is as wet as it is up there, pulling out signposts by hand is pretty easy.
Still in the walking mode, me and chainsaw made another sweep through the trail. This time I used pink tape to make it clear to riders how to connect the trail back up in the swath cuts. When I got to the Enduro Only Trail, I used the tools to take down the signs and the crossbeam, and pulled the 2 signposts out of the ground.
I continued to the end of the Enduro Only Trail, to that point where it intersects the Bearhunter. Those signposts came out relatively easily too. I figured that, since I had the tools, I might as well walk over to the other Enduro Only Trail (the one on the east side of the Creek) and take down that sign and signposts. That got done. With those signs and signpost laying on the side of the Bearhunter, I wondered whether or not I could pull the actual trail indicator sign for the east end of the Harlis Bypass out of the ground and move it to the end of the Enduro Only Trail. I walked over to that intersection and yanked at the signpost. It moved easily. I now figured that I would do the whole job and convert the Enduro Only Trail to the east end of the Harlis Bypass.
So I walked north down the Harlis Bypass, around the little lake and to the Bypass/Enduro Only intersection. I hand cleared all of the debris blocking the Enduro Only Trail and put up pink tape indicating that riders should enter the Enduro Only Trail. Then I grabbed the 3 signposts and the sign and headed back south to the Bearhunter.
I now had a small pile of signposts and some signs to haul back to the truck. It also stopped raining for about 20 minutes. I figured it was now time to unleash the ATV. I walked back to the truck and grabbed the ATV, some bungees to strap down the signposts and my 4 pound maul. I stopped at the trail indicator sign and unbolted the signs and pulled the signpost. I hauled this over to the end of the Enduro Only Trail. I cleared all of the debris at the end of the Trail. Then I pounded the 8 foot long signpost in with the maul and bolted up the signs. That felt good. The Harlis Bypass Trail, with its new east extension, is cleared, opened and signed.
It felt so good that I decided to walk and clear the Enduro Only Trail on the east side of the creek. I did not have the proper signs so, I did not plan to open it. I walked around the debris at the entrance and then walked the trail and cleared it. The chainsaw came in handy in a few spots. While I was in there I heard someone riding through the Congo on a dirtbike. It was raining again (it rained about 90% of the time I was out there). It just goes to show you that people will ride regardless of the weather.
When I came out to the Bearhunter, I remembered that someone had removed the trail indicator sign that was just across the Bearhunter (for the north end of Wilderness Trail). It was just laying there on the ground next to the signpost. Since I had tools and a pocket full of bolts, I walked over there and bolted the sign back up.
Then it was just a matter of walking back to the ATV, tying the signposts to it, clamping on the chainsaw, holding the signs in my left hand and putt-putting back to the truck. I had put in a good many hours and accomplished a lot. It started raining hard again so I decided to call it a day. It was tricky to get out of the wet (on the outside) rainsuit and into some dry clothes for the ride home. I stopped at the Duquette Store for gas and Duquette sandwhich and headed home. It rained super hard on the freeway for about 25 miles. Traffic slowed down to about 40 mph but I got lucky and got behind a semi that was moving right along and was easy to see in the rain.