July 25, 2015

The previous Fall we had acquired a good number of snowmobile tracks from a connection Rob Hammerlund has at Polaris.  They were prototypes that needed to be discarded after testing.  We didn’t have a specific plan for them, but figured that something might come up.  After some discussion, I decided to figure out a way to use them to fix the >100ft, twisty rut discussed in the July 18th blogpost.

I took some measurements and figured out a way to support each track with three lengthwise 2″ x 4″s screwed to the bottom side, one on each outside edge and one down the center.  Three to five small 2″ x 4″s cross-ways would stiffen things a bit.  This would make a “boardwalks” 15inches wide by 10 – 12feet long.

Because most of the track prep (cutting off paddles and some of the guide bumps on the bottom) had been done in some downtime, making these boardwalks was pretty easy.  They ended up being pretty light, relatively speaking, which make hauling lots of them in my rig less of an issue.  Hauling was completely solved by not assembling some of the boardwalks until I got on-site.  That way I could pile up some of the tracks in the back of my truck instead of trying to fit so many completed boardwalks in my trailer with my ATV.

This weekend’s volunteers included Roy Fleming, Kelly McQuay and his son James.  We had three ATVs.  Roy used his trailer to get the boardwalks and miscellaneous lumber to the Yellow Birch close point.  Rather than tie things down, we just had someone ride in the trailer to hold things down and stop Roy if something fell out.  Very scientific…

It took several trips to get the first load of pre-built boardwalks and tools to the close point and then to drag the boardwalks from there to the work-site.   I also brought some drain tile to put in the trenches that Steve Long and I made on July 18.  Somewhere in there I ripped the hitch-ball off of my ATV trailer hitch.  We used old-fashioned rope and smaller loads after that to do the dragging.

We started out by installing the drain tile tubes, which didn’t take long.  We then started installing the boardwalks on the “easiest” end, where the rut wasn’t as deep and was just about exactly the width of a snowmobile track.  It went surprisingly well and we got the jist of how things were going to go.  Still, it took all of 4 hours to get that first, not-so-bad part in place and mostly anchored.  With that, we measured how long the “harder” part was so that we knew how much boardwalk would be needed to finish the job.  Then it was time to head back to the trucks, take a break and build those remaining boardwalks.

After the break and build, off to the site we went, with the last boardwalks in the trailer.  These got hauled in, and after some discussion of what was to go where, the work started again.  Because the rut was so deep here, it took a more calculated approach to get the boardwalks to lay in place end-to-end and level(ish).  My knee-high rubber boots came in really handy here.  While working, we were “disturbed” by a few groups of riders that came through, including a guy with a European accent riding a BMW R1200GS!  It was interesting to see how they navigated the narrow (15inches wide) snowmobile tracks.  It was about 50-50, with half staying up on the tracks, and half going off the sides.  Not a good omen…….

After a lot of dirty grubbing, placing, anchoring and joining, the job was finally done.  It was time to load up all of the tools and leftover lumber and head back.  It ended up being an 8 1/2 hour day, with everyone pretty glad to get back to the trucks, load up and head out.  Roy’s ATV and trailer looked pretty bad having gone through so many puddles on the Yellow Birch.  He had work to do when he got home.   Roy and Kelly headed for home that night, I stayed over.

In the morning I went back to the work-site, and hauled in some wire decks that had been left over from a previous job.  My plan was to fix some of the small stuff that I had noticed on July 18th when I was there with Steve and Kylie Long.   I started by “harvesting” the last wire deck that I discovered on the old trail alignment.   I used two decks to smooth out the transitions on a previously installed wooden boardwalk.  This worked sweet.

While I was doing some brushing to “let the sun in”, some more riders came through.   I watched their varying success on the snowmobile tracks.  It was not good.  After all of that work, this “fix” wasn’t really a fix at all.  If anything, if it was left the way it was, it would get all torn up from riders going off the side of the snowmobile tracks.  It was going to be back to the drawing board (literally) in the coming days.

I noticed that we hadn’t really anchored down some of the boardwalks and I had forgotten to put screws in some of the anchors that were there.  So I spent an hour putting in a few new anchors and putting screws in anchors that I forgot to install the day before.

I grabbed my tools and started to ride back to the truck when I remembered another little bad spot near the close point.  I stopped there briefly and took a little measurement.  That last boardwalk at the cabin would fit in there nicely.  So I went back to the truck, hitched up the boardwalk and headed out again.  It took about an hour to dig out the spot and get that boardwalk placed, but it fixed a spot that has been bad off-and-on for a long time.   Good stuff.

Now – how to fix the fix………..