Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Spartacus - that's one of the names that I've heard for the chain contraptions used by a group of people to move big rocks.  I've also heard them called rock nets, or Austins - though I think the Austin has poles that support the chain net to use as handles.

mtbr forums - Spartacus-heavy lifting tool

The Metroparks gave me a big ol' bucket of chain that had been used to gate something off somewhere.  It was broken into a couple of pieces, and had a mess of different hardware on it, including some screw thread chain links.  With the addition of a couple more screw thread links and the loan of my dad's bolt cutter I managed to assemble a version of the Spartacus that would be suitable for the number of people and the size of rocks that we're dealing with at North Road.

I'd found an area in the North Road woods that had a bunch of boulders half buried down in a small drainage gully.  So this fall Kenny and I spent two trail work days digging them out for future use.  This weekend we had our first Sunday trail work day, with about 8 people showing up.  First thing we did was use our trail wagon to move the rocks from the stockpile at the entry to the first swale crossing.  This was probably over a ton of stone, so it took quite a few trips.  And while we were using the wagon, the other volunteers were loading the smaller stones into crates and carrying them in by hand.

The rock stockpile at the first swale, from earlier this fall.

But after we got the stockpile all moved I led the group out to our "rock quarry".  In this picture from earlier in the fall Kenny is by one of the piles of rocks we dug up in the bottom of the gully.

There was another pile of rocks about 20 feet further to the right, bigger than the pile shown.  The goal of the day was to get the rocks up to the top of the gully so that later we can load them into the trail wagon (or maybe sled if we get some snow this winter).  And we actually managed to move almost all of them in less than two hours!  The gully was pretty muddy, much wetter than in the picture above, so we left two of the bigger boulders that were in wet areas for another day, but the rest of them are up out of the gully and over by the trail.

After doing the heavy lifting I took the other volunteers down by the creek and showed them where the new section of trail is going to be run.  The creek had come down quite a bit from the last time I was down there, which just shows how much change it regularly goes through.  Our task will be trying to build a trail that is going to be above water at least most of the time.

Kenny down by the creek earlier in the fall.
 Next weekend I think I'm going to head down to Beaver Creek and try to flag the line for the new trail.  I've had to put this project off too much already, and I need to get down there and get things set up for a trail work day.  There's going to be about 1/4 mile of bench cut through rocky woods, and a descent from the hillside to creek level that are going to be tricky.  I can't wait to get to it.

Jeff talked to me about the Boy Scout schedule for this summer.  Kenny is still in Webelos (the last phase of Cub Scouts) but he'll be going to Boy Scouts in just a couple of months.  The troop that he's interested in is really active and outdoor oriented.  We went on a campout with them and I was amazed at how much responsibility the boys had, and how well they carried out their jobs.  And their big event this summer is going to be a 180 mile bike trip on the Chesapeake &  Ohio Canal Trail, from Cumberland, MD to Washington DC.  Of course I plan to go along with Kenny - I'm not about to pass this chance up!

With any luck I'll be able to get back over to Moraine this Friday or Saturday.  My knee is pretty sore in this cold weather, but I'm more than ready to get back on the dirt.


  1. Swampboy!
    Any day in the woods is a good day. I seem to have gone pure roadie and my old trail bike resents that the only single track she sees is the sidewalk to the beer store. But I can at least look at pictures. Glad to hear you are feeling better. That's good work you are doing.

    yer pal,

  2. TJ,

    Nice to see you "in my neck of the woods". Yeah, I'm kind of addicted to being out in the woods - and mountain biking is just one more way to express that.

    I still spend some time riding on the road, but I try to get out in the country a ways for that. We've had a couple of high profile cases of bikers being run down by cars, including a judge that was riding on a remote road and run down by a housewife - who didn't stop and left him to die beside the road. It makes me wonder what I'd have to do to be guaranteed to be visible - a red flag maybe, or orange safety vest, or blinking lights. Sometimes it seems that even shooting off fireworks off the back of the bike every thirty seconds wouldn't be enough.

    Be careful out there.

    Steve Z