May 9, 2015

Plenty of time and effort lead up to today’s Bridge raising project.  The Bridge, which spans the State Line Creek on the Bearhunter Trail, had settled down onto its lowered/washed out concrete supports, a result of last year’s Spring flood.  It was still serviceable but was susceptible washing out again to even lesser floods.

A good group of volunteers showed up.  Andy Gunderson drove his John Deere tractor to the site from a parking spot on the Foxboro/Chaffee Rd in Wisconsin.  Bill Spaulding trailered his Bobcat T200 (a tracked cat) up the Bearhunter to within 200 yards of the west side of the Bridge.

Andy made short work of moving the east ramp out of the way with the pallet forks he brought.  He also picked up the old concrete support and hoisted it out of the way.  It was then time for Bill to pick up his end of the Bridge and drag it west.

It took some stopping and staring to figure out how to get started on the east retaining wall, which needed a 90 degree angle to hold back the fill.  Once everyone was on board on how to lay in the first two 6″ x 6″ timbers, things started to happen.  Unbeknownst to the rest of us, Andy went off and found a rock garden.  Once the first three levels were laid down and fastened together (and a deadman installed), Andy showed up with a bucket full of boulders for fill.  That was great but the next bucket needed to be dirt to fill in the spaces.

Three more levels and a bunch more fill got things looking OK, but the fill was mighty wet.  It looked like that might be a big problem but we just kept working around it and it eventually turned out.  Once the east wall was done, both Andy and Bill picked up the Bridge from their respective ends and moved it over so that it was mostly on the east side.  A repeat performance of retaining wall building got started on the west side, this one simpler because we were now “experienced” and there was no right angle needed.  Bill also had nothing but good, dry fill to work with and another “rock mine” that he found somewhere.  The tracked bobcat also just plain worked better for this job.

With both creek banks now artificially rebuilt with retaining walls and fill, it was time to pick up the Bridge one more time and place it on the supporting crossways timbers that were to hold it up above creek bank level.  With a bit of jockeying and probably too much work direction from the foreman, the Bridge was set onto its (hopefully) final resting place.   The support timbers were then screwed in place, including the stacked ones for the ramps.

Almost the whole crew pitched in to pick up the old, east ramp and set it in place.  It was screwed to the support timber and Andy brought in more fill to bury the far end.  While that was going on I got some of the rest of the crew started on building the west ramp, which went pretty fast with all of the help that was there.   It was another group grab and haul and this ramp was in place.  After it was screwed to its timber, Bill got busy with the last of the fill on his side, burying the end of the new ramp.

With all that done some temporary stops were put in place to keep the Bridge from sliding off the timbers in a high water event.  The temporary features will be replaced with some more substantial guides (sometime soon) so that it won’t shift unless we have a 100 year flood.  We’ll install a chain to keep the Bridge in the vicinity in case we do get that monster flood.

P.S.  It’s two weeks later and the permanent guides have been installed and the Bridge is chained to a tree on its southwest corner.   A couple of logs were also laid in to keep the fill on the trail tread.  The Bridge is done!  Long live the Bridge!