Tuesday, March 20, 2012

That must be spring in the air

The half winter (maybe even quarter winter) that we've been enduring seems to have finally given it's last gasp, leaving us with a gradual, almost unnoticeable transition from brown and muddy to green and muddy.  But the temperatures have climbed into the 70's and the smell of earth is in the breeze.  I can hear the spring peepers calling, the robins (and turkey buzzards) are back, and the daffodils are blooming.  It would be cruel and unusual for winter to stage a final tantrum at this point.  Now if I was still living in Minnesota it would be totally possible, but for northeast Ohio - I'm calling this winter over.

Trail side ruins from the canal days at Beaver Creek.

After watching the weather all week while I was sitting at my desk - indoors - looking out the window at the sun - I'd hoped to have a veritable orgy of mountain biking over the weekend.  But with nice conditions the unmistakable knocking of delayed commitments started to make it's way into my consciousness and I decided to take care of some trail work.  So on Friday I headed down to Beaver Creek with Dave for a ride and trail work day.  I knew there were a bunch of trees down so I strapped a bow saw to my pack and started up Dogwood Trail from the picnic area, ready to play my lumberjack role.  Turns out someone had cut out at least one of the downed trees, but at least one more good-sized one had fallen - so I had plenty to keep me busy.  I think I cut out at least 6 trees and did a bit of on-the-fly drainage work, but there was one tree up near the top that I didn't get to.  It's always more work and takes longer than you think (that should be the Golden Rule of trail building).

Someone else is cutting trees at Beaver Creek too.

But it was nice to get in a ride, even if it was a short one, and the extra danger of riding singletrack with a big honkin' saw strapped to my back made it even more fun.  Beaver Creek is one of my favorite places, where I've spent literally hundreds of hours camping, hiking, kayaking and biking.  That makes it even nicer to give back some by working on the trails.

Panoramic shot of Beaver Creek.
 Saturday morning I'd scheduled trail work on the North Road Nature Preserve project.  With nice weather I'd hoped that there would be a pretty good turn out, but the only one to show up was Bernie.  That guy is something else - 73 years old and full of energy.  We hauled in about a half ton of rock using the trail wagon, then moved some flagstone we found on-site.  After that we went over to the super wet area and started to cut the corridor that is going to be the re-route.  It would have been nice if I would have been smart enough to avoid the trouble area in the first place, but I think that this new line will definitely be an improvement.  We put in three hours of work, then collected up the tools and headed back up the trail with the wagon - just in time to meet another volunteer who was delayed in showing up for his first trail work day.  No worries though, we talked and he'll likely be returning to help (yay).

I wonder how far down that you could ride...

I'd thought about going out for a ride on the rail trail Saturday afternoon, but I was pretty worn out so I just spent some time starting the season's yard and house work.  But I was thinking about what I should do on Sunday afternoon after Diana got off work.  My inclination was to head back over to Moraine and try to lengthen up the loop I'd been riding the last couple of weeks.  But I could still faintly hear those blasted commitments knocking, so I once again loaded up bike and tools and headed back down to Beaver Creek.

Ready to rake and ride.

First I left the bike in the woods at the top of the loop, then I parked at the bottom and hiked back up - which gave me the opportunity to tackle the last blockage near the top.  I managed to tear off a big flap of skin on my hand and painted a good portion of the surrounding trees with my blood, but eventually the huge mass of grapevines that was dragged down by the falling tree was cleared enough to ride through.  I completed the hike and then rode back down the long leg of the loop back down to the bottom (no blockages - hooray!)  Once I got back to the car I packed up the bike, grabbed some tools and headed up to where the new trail is going to be built.  I got the okay to make this trail the week before I fractured my skull in October, so this job has been waiting for quite a while.

Cell phone pic of the brook from the hillside trail.
I wanted to take a chance to start the benching on this project before getting a trail crew out there.  If it was going to be an impossible job to bench the extremely rocky soil then I wanted to know before there were other people there.  But I was happy to see that though it was a tough job, it was something that we could do.  So next weekend is Boy Scout camping, the weekend after is North Park trail work and the NEXT weekend is going to be the first big Beaver Creek work day.  I hope I can get a couple of people to come out and join in, but even if I have to do it myself I'm going to get this new trail put in.

Starting to bench the new trail at Beaver Creek (another cell phone pic).

So instead of three days of riding, this weekend was three days of trail work.  It would have been nice to get in at least one longer ride, but I'm really happy to see progress on my two trail projects.  Because when I get these projects done I'm going to see if they'll let me build some mtb trails at Mosquito Lake State Park - just ten minutes up the road from my house.  I can hardly wait.

Just another gorgeous dawn.

Next weekend though, after the Boy Scout campout - I'm going to RIDE.


  1. At least you are doing work that will pay off with some good riding this summer and fall. I had forgotten about your head injury. Any lasting problems? Also, what is the trail wagon?

  2. TJ,

    I still have some pain at the fractured eye socket and it seems that I have some minor neck pain, but all in all I'm about totally recovered. Once again I got lucky and escaped a SERIOUS injury.

    The trail wagon is a half ton capacity wagon that the County Metroparks bought for us trail volunteers. It can carry an amazingly large cargo of rocks, fit between trees 36" apart, and still break down enough that it can fit inside my car for transport. I put a picture of it on my new post.

    Steve Z