Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Rocking Saturday

On Saturday morning I left early to get to nearby Bull Run Mountains where I was meeting the conservancy group and helping with some trail work. It was a cold day but there were a lot of people who had come to volunteer and we were soon introducing ourselves and chatting. Tools were brought out and distributed once our work was explained and we all started trudging up the trail. Some people helped to complete a job that had been started previously but the most of us were going to build a waterbar.
 Above is a waterbar already on the trail, and a description is here.  I've seen many of these on hikes and assumed they helped towards preventing erosion but never paid them much attention until today. Our leader was Janis who I have the utmost respect for as she's about to embark on a 6 month hike walking the whole of the Appalachian Trail. You can follow her here once she's started. There was also a guy there who has already completed the AT trail AND the Pacific Trail. Whoa! I would love to do either of these if I'm still upright when I retire!
Janis explained that we needed plenty of large flat rocks that could be found up on the hills which we could then bring down to the trail. They were likely to weigh about 150 - 200lbs or more. We all looked at each other but then shrugged our shoulders and began plodding up the steep slopes. We soon got engrossed in our work and people could be seen puffing and heaving rocks or sliding and rolling them downhill so that after an hour or so we had quite a respectable pile by the side of the trail. While we'd been doing this some of the others were digging a gully alongside the trail for water to run down, and also a ditch angled across the trail for the stones to sit in.
Soon we realized that there was a group of guys up high on the hill crowded around a monster rock which I nicknamed The Monolith. They were determined to bring it down for the waterbar and their combined efforts were indeed gallant if not pigheaded as their male egos refused to let them give up as they pushed, crowbarred, slid and rolled it down the hill, over a gully and up another hill before it finally rested grandly on the trail. This huge hunk of rock was guessed to weigh in at between 700-800lbs! There were suggestions of making it into a bench or picnic bar but it had been hauled down to be part of a water bar so with more digging to deepen the ditch, that was what it became.
 Everyone was very impressed and I'd been filming their actions as they toiled down towards the rest of us. Unfortunately this is only my second movie with the iPhone and so in the excitement I forgot to turn the phone to landscape mode so the resulting video is an upright one. Ooops! Oh well, the desired effect was still achieved. The link is here.
It was Tim's suggestion to use the Benny Hill music and it was a superb choice, it fit perfectly.
Here is our completed waterbar and gully, Everyone threw old leaves over the trail to cover the mud we'd created and we all stood looking at it rather proudly as the conservancy group told us we'd made a fine job of it. We puffed our chests out further as they also told us to make sure we pointed out 'our' waterbar to our hiking partners on future hikes in the park. We would indeed! We picked up the tools and headed back to our vehicles, stopping for final chats and to exchange contact information.
I got home and woke up a sleeping Kota, ran to the shower and then relaxed before going into Marshall for a steak and wine dinner, an excellent way to finish up the day.

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