July 15, 2015

An earlier ride through the north part of the Iron Pipe Trail practically took my shoulder out.  First, there was a low spot between two ridges where we had previously put some wire decks on either side of an existing shipping pallet “bridge” built by some unknown ATV’er.  The untreated pine pallet had rotted enough that it had collapsed in the very middle of the intermittent flowage.  That spot was super soft, and a very deep hole had been dug there by the many bikes that had no doubt gotten stuck in the gap between the decks.  Also, some hapless riders had actually removed some the decks and tossed them aside after they had gotten stuck on them.   It was a mess for sure.

The second spot was one where I had put in a row of wire decks to fix a soft spot that reared its ugly head shortly after we rerouted the trail a few years ago.  I was sure that the row of decks was continuous.  When I went to ride through, there was a puddle in the center of the run that I thought that I would just splash through.  Well, somehow the center deck had disappeared.

The hole was deep and when I dropped in, my bike just stopped and I almost went over the bars.  The jolt messed up my throttle thumb and my clutch-side shoulder.  I went looking for the missing deck, but it was nowhere to be found.

I built three boardwalks the week before the 15th in my garage at home.  I bought material for four, thinking that I would fix the second spot by building a deck on-site that was just the right length to fill the gap between the wire decks.

On this morning, I used the Yellow Birch Trail to tow the 3 boardwalks to the first spot.  I left the tow wheels on the Birch, and dragged the boardwalks the rest of the way through the woods to the work-site.  Job one was to fish out all of the broken pallet parts and toss them aside.  Did I say that I was wearing knee-high rubber boots?  Oh yeah, these were practically a requirement in the deep water and soft mud.  The next order of business was to gather up all of the wire decks that were scattered around.  A couple were hidden pretty well in the weeds.

Placing the boardwalks wasn’t bad, but there were some roots that needed to be grubbed out, which was not much fun.  Needless to say, I splashed dirty water all over my face swinging the ax…… again.  I brought in some 4″ x 4″s to support the boardwalks over the soft spot, which worked nice.  Once the boardwalks were in place and hooked together, it was a matter of laying the wire decks in place on the approaches, anchoring them and tying those together.  The finished product looked great when I left it AND it looked great after the Enduro.

When that was done I hauled the tools and stuff back to the truck and took a break.  After I was fed and watered, I loaded the boardwalk materials and build tools onto the ATV and headed back up the Yellow Birch.  I jumped off at the close point (500-399).  It was “interesting” riding a loaded ATV down the narrow singletrack to the second spot, trying not to roll sideways down the embankment on the right side.

I was just finishing building/installing the short (5ft?) boardwalk when two play riding SAER members (Todd Lofstrom and Kelly McQuay) showed up.  They proceeded to tell me about some other spots that could use some work.  That’s helpful as I don’t get much of a chance to see a lot of the trail during the summer as I’m busy fixin’ stuff.  I eventually relayed that report to the appropriate Section Leader.