Wednesday, June 11, 2014

More Trail Work...and Ultrarunning

On Monday I headed up Alice Trail to its junction with the Tuscarora Trail for some serious weed whacking of briars.  This is in southern PA, just south of where the Tuscarora crosses PA Rt 16 between Mercersburg and McConnellsburg, and heading south from there.

But first, the installation of a signpost I had made to mark that junction.  Up there on the narrow Pennsylvania ridgetop there is a scant covering of dirt, then the underlying rock.  I had hauled up a digging iron to try to make a hole...the best I could get was about  12" deep after several test holes, so I resorted to piling stones around the post as in a cairn.

At the bottom of the buried end of the post I had inserted a 12" piece of re-bar laterally through the post.  When the dirt and small rocks are firmly tamped down around the post, the re-bar serves as a physical deterrent to someone (or some bear, seriously) trying to pull out the signpost.

The signpost is quite stable and should last awhile.  Of course, in the backcountry, if someone wants to destroy a trail sign with bullets or brute force, they'll do it.  I hope that the remote location weeds out the idiot faction, and only serious hunters and hikers will pass by here.

The weed whacking went slowly.  Very slowly.  As in forward progress of about 1/2 mile in 90 minutes slowly.

I was assisting my trail buddy Peter, who's is the overseer for that portion of the Tuscarora.  The briars in some places had rendered the trail  almost impassable in a practical sense.  The technique we resorted to in a few areas of particularly heinous briars was to bring the weedwhacker down from about 6' up, chewing up the briars from top to bottom.

This section, to my knowledge, had not been cut in 2013, so this was 2 years of growth.  My hope is that with the briars now cut back to a 6' trail width, future weed whacking efforts will be more akin to maintenance than (virtually) cutting new trail.

The link to Ultrarunning?  I love trail running.  Somebody has to maintain those trails.  It's pretty simple.

Oh, and another reason:

Box turtle on the Alice Trail.  All photos by Gary.

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