March 15, 2015

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.