Next weekend we plan to raise the State Line Creek Bridge up to a level a bit higher than level with the historic creek banks.  Because I had other trailwork to do this weekend and my enclosed trailer couldn’t possibly haul all of the timbers, lumber, tools and ATV that will be needed next weekend, I hauled up 30 6″ x 6″ x 8′ timbers this weekend.  Rob Hammerlund and I met at the Duquette Store early this morning and headed out to the Bearhunter parking lot.  The plan was to haul 5 loads, 6 timbers at a time, on my ATV trailer.  Not only are the timbers heavy, but they had to be loaded such that the trailer had almost no tongue weight.  The first load actually slid back a little on the way out causing the whole rig to go into a huge tail wag when I hit the right combination of bumps.  It got so bad that twice the trailer overcame the ATV and sent it into an instant jackknife.  Whew!

On the fourth load I got about halfway there and the cast bracket that the trailer hitch ball is attached to broke in half!  So there we were with 6 timbers halfway there, 6 more to haul from the truck and no a good way to couple the trailer to the ATV.

Turns out it is easy to haul two timbers on the ATV, so we made short work of the ones that were on the trailer when the hitch broke.  After some discussion we decided that, since Rob had his basically empty pickup truck, that we would haul the last 6 timbers to just above the bridge in it, and then haul them two-at-a-time down to the bridge with the ATV.  On the drive back to the parking lot we hoisted the little trailer into the pickup’s box and hauled it out.  Problem solved.

This is the year when the “Enduro Only” trail, originally put in to be public trail, could finally become public.  With the hauling done, it was time to load up the ATV with new signs, signposts, hardware, post pounder and post puller; take down the closed signs, put up the new signs and “open ‘er up”.   So we spent the next couple hours doing just that.  We were short two directional arrows but otherwise finished the job.  This effort started in 2009 and went through a lot of hard work, long discussions, bearhunter mischief, twists, turns and anxiety on our part and the DNR’s; so you can imagine how gratifying it was to finally be able to call this project complete.

The last task we worked on was to try to improve the alignment of a new segment of trail that is going to connect the OHM/ATV trail along the Net Lake Road north to the Matthew Lourey.  The last flagging and alignment that I submitted to the DNR used a segment of a proposed Hunter Walking Trail, which I wasn’t surprised to find out was a problem/concern of the DNR’s.  I told them that I would try one more time to find an alternate alignment (this was my fourth scouting trip for this segment).  Rob and I rode out there and started walking through the super thick and scratchy brush (we were both in short sleeves on this hot day).  Oh, did I tell you that the wood ticks were out in force?  Uh yeah, they were there cheering us on.

After spending a couple of hours wandering around in many areas where IMO no human should ever go, I came to the conclusion that there is no other sustainable way to route that segment except to use that chunk of Hunter Walking trail.  It’s a small chunk and it is the “tail” of a long trail, so maybe the plan will fly.  It’s going to be “call and discuss”, then “wait and see” with the DNR.

THE NEMADJI TRAILS ARE CLOSED!!

PLEASE DON’T RIDE UNTIL THE DNR WEBSITE SAYS ITS OK.

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/ohv/trail_detail.html?id=33

A couple of trail segments have been logged off over the winter (at least a couple that we know of).  The southwest leg of the North Loop got hit last fall, and it was time to go assess the damage and connect things back up.  Many times removing all of the trees gives us a chance to reroute a trail segment to higher and dryer ground and sometimes gain some mileage.  With this in mind, I set off to check out it out.

The logger took out two relatively short segments (about 0.2 mile each).  The southernmost segment used to have a rutted spot that I remembered as being caused by a drainage.  The other segment had been pretty high and dry.

I warmed up (it was 16 degrees °F @ 9:00 am) by walking around in the first segment and walking the short distance to “discover” the second one.  Turned out that it seemed best to reconnect the second segment by clearing what remained of the old trail… mostly.   Even though the only tools that I was carrying at the time were good gloves, flagging tape and my trusty Silky Zubat handsaw, it turned out that those were all that were needed to get this part of job done.  Even though the segment was short, it took 3.5 hours to chuck all of the logging debris, cut the brush and flag the route with bright green tape.   Things were slowed appreciably because many logs were frozen to the ground and needed a good kick or a smack from another log to break them free.

With that done I sauntered over to the other segment and started looking around.  When that segment was put in, I had purposely routed the trail a ways around a deer stand.  That stand belonged to Mike Dahl, on whose property we were running our Youth Enduro back in those days.  So I had high hopes that I could route the trail along the nearby creeks.  The first task was to find the ends of the trail, and then to spent time wandering around the clearcut and the creeks edges.  It quickly became apparent that routing the trail along the creeks edges was not going to work.  There was a pretty pronounced flowage that would need to be crossed and there was no good way to do that.  The rest of the route wasn’t to hot either.  More wandering around yielded a high ground route, not much different from the original.

We still had to cross that flowage that caused the muddy ruts in the old trail but I found a different place to cross it that had relatively steep approaches and a short low stretch.  So if it ruts up again, the ruts will be short and the trail will be wide.

There was a lot more debris to clear on this segment and the chainsaw was needed to cut out some of the logs.  So I spent 2 hours clearing and then walked back to the truck for something to drink and to pick up the saw.

20 minutes later I was back on the job and chucked and cut like a crazy man until the whole route was cleared.  I finished it up by hanging more bright green tape.  I also piled up logs at the sharper corners to make it obvious that there was a turn there.

I capped off the day by walking the undisturbed parts of the trail, doing some minor clearing and using the chainsaw when needed.  I don’t know why but I enjoy walking the trails, recalling what it took to put them in and noticing how much the simple routes have changed with all of the traffic over the years.

We gotta do something about the deeper ruts near the “rock garden” that is close to the Bearhunter intersection of this southwest part of the North Loop.  Its getting harder and harder to widen the trail there.  More boardwalks would halt most, if not all of it.

 

A couple of weekends ago I rode through the Gandy Dancer Bypass with the chainsaw on the front of my bike.  I noticed that the little boardwalk just south of the State Line Creek hard crossing was really too short (you had to ride through the mud to get onto it).  When I placed it there I kinda figured that this might happen as it was not built for that spot, it was built for a spot around the corner on an obsoleted segment of trail.  During the week I built another 7 foot long boardwalk in my garage to add to the old short one.

The first order of business on Saturday was to mow the clearcut in the Gandy Dancer Bypass with the DR Brushcutter.  The first step was to tow that Brushcutter out there with the ATV and trailer.  I use a super secret access trail that used to be part of the Enduro a llllooooonnnngg time ago to get out there.   It was nice and early in the morning and cool outside when I started.  This “mow job” is even longer than the one I did the previous weekend in the Harlis Bypass.  The good news is that this newer Brushcutter did it easily on one tank of gas.  The old V-twin one would run out on me on this loop.  Somewhere out there I bent the mechanism that puts allows you go in and out of the locking differential mode.  The Brushcutter was acting kinda wacky, sometimes having a locking diff, sometimes not.  I looked underneath it and could see the bent up parts.  Oh well, it was still manageable with a bit more muscle power required on my part.

In order to get the boardwalk out to the State Line Creek crossing, I figured that I might “utilize” another old Enduro Trail segment.  It is one that I had been checking out over the years but knew was blocked by a big old downed pine tree that I never bothered to clear.  This trail segment lead out to the clearcut where it became completely obscured by new popple growth.  I wasn’t sure how to go to the existing trail from it.   I ended up walking a bit past the end of the trail that I could navigate, and then turned my GPS on to track my walk back to the ATV.  I left the GPS tracking while I mowed so, when I was done I could see how close the beginning of my little hike on the old trail was to the existing OHM trail.  It was really close!

After mowing the Bypass and loading up the Brushcutter on the trailer, I rode back to the old trail intersection and headed up this other old Enduro Trail segment towards the clearcut.  I cut out the big pine tree and cleared some of the other debris from the old segment.  When I got to the clearcut, I used the GPS to walk through the thick stuff right to the existing OHM trail.  Now I knew exactly what I needed to clear.  I unloaded the Brushcutter, fired it up and knocked popples down until I got about 10 feet from the OHM trail.  I had my route to drag the boardwalk to the Creek crossing.

I loaded up the Brushcutter and rode the ATV back to the truck.  I pulled the boardwalk out of my trailer and hitched it up to the ATV with this little device I made with some scrap wood and a trailer hitch coupler.   I also loaded up the digging tools and, back down the trail I went.  The drag went well until I got into a tight-ish popple section.  There was a 30 yard long section where I had to cut down one 3″ tree just to get the ATV through.  For that I unhitched the boardwalk and hand dragged it through until things opened back up.  Once I got to the site (which was nice and dry now), it was just a matter of moving the old boardwalk up and out of the way and leveling the spot with the digging tools.    After both boardwalks were in place, I capped off the job by adding edge boards to the old boardwalk.

I ran into Roy as I was loading my truck and he told me that there was a gang staying at the Forsberg cabin, so I headed there for the night.  Onto Sunday….

Sunday was another mowing day, this time in Dave Anderson’s Section.  This was sort of uneventful as I have been mowing the same segments in there for several years.  I also mowed the little singletrack trail that runs around the north end of the Gravel Pit Parking Lot on the Net Lake Road.  I just have a soft spot for that little trail that has not been part of the Enduro for several years.  It needs its share of maintenance every year to keep it open, that’s for sure.

 

The mowing has begun!   The previous weekend I rode the clearcut in the Harlis Bypass and could barely see the trail.  This weekend I mowed from the west end of the Harlis Bypass through the clearcut and back.  The clutch cable on the DR Brushcutter broke about 1/2 mile in.  Had to fetch it with the ATV and Trailer and pull it back out to the truck.  Modified what was left of the cable, added a few cable ties and viola!, back in business.   I carried extra gas that it turned out I didn’t need.  The newer, single cylinder 14.5hp brushcutter gets better “mileage” than the older, V-twin 17hp one did.  I’m also learning to love the locking differential on the new one.  It really makes some situations much easier than before, especially the sidehill stuff.

I also cleared the tall grass from the newly opened trail on the west end of the Congo.  I’m hoping that, now that it is open to the public, that it will get enough traffic in the future to keep itself more open.

Jamie was off mowing the “Enduro Only” trail with his brand new, 20hp DR brushcutter.  He got more done than I did!  Rob Hammerlund was out there too, clearing the deadfall out of the way so that Jamie could make his run through.  Rob had his chainsaw in his backpack and his Silky Saw on his calf……everything you need to clear just about any trail.

 

Finally!  The Nemadji world is drying out.  Another good week of mostly dry will really do the trick.  Did a 45 mile tour with the chainsaw on the front of the bike, clearing deadfall and checking trail conditions.  I would say 9 hours on the bike but, I spent much of the time off the bike cutting and moving logs and brush.  Ran all of the singletrack along the the Net Lake Road and Northeast Extension except the Iron Pipe.  Also ran the Harlis Bypass, Gandy Dancer Bypass, Congo and rode counterclockwise through about half of the North Loop.

The clearcuts in the Bypasses are WWAAAAYYYY overgrown making it very hard to see the trail.  We’ll have to get in there soon to beat back the ground cover.  Face slappers aren’t too bad but, of course, need cutting back.  The half of North Loop that I did had a bunch of deadfall, which was why I had to quit after doing only half.  I was SHOT and it was getting late.

It was great to spend the whole day on the bike and not on the ATV.  I’m sure that I won’t be so lucky on the next trip.  Still, we’re making plans to fix up some of the long term ruts and other issues that got worse with the wet conditions.

On the drive home I put 2014 Enduro posters up at the Nickerson Bar,the Duquette Store and Duquette Tavern.

On the 12th, we decommissioned a trail segment on the north end of the Hungry Bear.  The DNR rerouted around the segment with a road width trail.  It didn’t really make sense to keep 0.1 mile of rough trail in the middle of wide, smooth, flowing UTV width trail anyway.  We pulled the big, wide boardwalks out of the segment (four that were 12′ x 5′  and one that was 6′ x 5′).  My ATV got a real workout dragging those monsters for a couple of miles each.  Those boardwalks can certainly be used in other places (read “Iron Pipe”).

The good news is that we GPS’d over a mile of new trail in an “undisclosed location” that day.  We are working with the land managers to see if they will give it the thumbs up.  We should know in the next couple of weeks.  If it ends up being a “go”, we’ll open it up for the 45th annual Moose Run Enduro.

Rob H and I spent a long day in the Nemadji today.  We installed a ramp made of junk snowmobile tracks on the west approach to the Little Net River bridge in the Harlis Bypass.   That uphill was getting badly rutted and it could only have gotten worse.  Now it should be good forever.

We also opened up some more of what was “Enduro Only” trail, this time on the east side of Bearhunter Creek.  Now there is new trail on both sides of that creek.  It always feels good to open up some new stuff.  Looks for sign change when you are riding down the Bearhunter Trail or are riding the Harlis Bypass or Congo.

Down off of the Northeast Extension, just east of the parking lot @ 486-391, some unsavory rider(s) had taken down a “No Motorized Vehicles” sign and opened up an old obsoleted trail segment.  I installed a new sign and dropped some trees over the obsoleted trail.  Although we have been getting great compliance on almost all of the signage out there, there is still going to be few goofballs that think that they can go where they please.  I noticed some new blue paint on the trees along that trail so I suspect that loggers will be in there sometime this winter.   You never know, though, as sometimes an area in the woods goes up for auction but no one bids on it. We’ll just have to see.

The OHM Trails were closed this week per our suggestion to the DNR.  I was up doing trail maintenance yesterday on the bike.  I did my best to pussyfoot around the ruts but, there were a few spots where the water and ruts were overwhelming.  I rode and cleared the Iron Pipe and Iron Gate trails.  The cowcatcher bridge got a bit too short during the spring flood and needs to be extended about 6 feet.    The east end of the trail has a long muddy rut that has been mitigated in the past but needs a bunch more corduroy or something to make it long enough to get through without rutting out.

Today is the day I start working on the 50ft ramp that will get riders up the hill from the Little Net River crossing in the Harlis Bypass.  It’ll be another ramp with a snowmobile track(s) center that will allow riders to climb the old hill there.

There are many other places that need some help.  The thing that will help the most is 3 or more weeks of dry, hot weather.

PLEASE RESPECT THE TRAIL CLOSURE.  IT WILL BE APPRECIATED.

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.

This year we really had a long, cold, very wet Spring.  It is Memorial Day today and the Trails remain Closed.  Several of us were up yesterday preparing the trails for the Spring opening.  In spite of the “Closed” posting on the DNR website, there were HUNDREDS of riders there, split about evenly between ATVs and Dirtbikes.

Yesterday was our second trip up there.  There were a couple of bridges that got re-arranged by the spring flood, including our largest, the one over the State Line Creek.  4 of us spent 3 hours jacking the thing up, digging under it and generally getting thing lined back up.  Unfortunately, the concrete beam that was supporting the east end of the bridge actually slid down and into the Creek.  So that end of the Bridge will remain low.  Looks like it it now even more susceptible to being washed out.  We’re going to have to come up with a long term fix for this that most certainly involves lifting the bridge up and re-supporting it.

The bridge over the Little Net River that we raised up on pedestals last 4th of July stayed in place!  This bridge get shifted three times last Spring by flood events.  The fix worked!!  It just goes to show that we learn something new every year.

We’ve cleared most of the trails of winters’ deadfall.  There is still about 20% left to cover.   We’ll be hitting it again soon!  There’s lots to be done.