New Trail !
Late Summer '07
"Chutes & Ladders"
(Orange Trail "M")
Trail work never ends. It was a super busy summer, but now I've got some time to build. I actually started working on this trail right after the last one was finished in '06. I'd had it in my mind since before I even started on MilkRun. Further, I decided it was wise to limit the confusion of having a number of short trails with different names, so this trail will connect with MilkRun to make one longer trail called... "Chutes & Ladders"
This is one of 4 bridges constructed on the new trail overlooking the Creek Trail on the North ridge. It offers a nice view of a very pretty area of the park, and will offer yet another way to create new loop riding or walking opportunities.
If it looks like a lot of work, you are right. I could have taken an easier route, but what fun would that be? A few small bridges on the edge of the hill creates a lot more interest than simply taking the easy way.
My loyal trail buddy Tiina de-barks a tree using a machete as a draw knife. Peeling the bark off keeps the wood drier and keeps it from rotting as fast.
There are numerous furrows in the hill's edge that looked like they would be soggy in the rainy season. So, I decided instead of retreating away from the hill's edge, I'd simply span them with some small bridges. To the left is the first bridge pictured above, now completed, and looking from the other end.
To the left are bridges 2 & 3, running at the brink of the steep hillside. Gives you the excitement of being on the edge! Following bridge 3 (right) is what's called a Bench Cut; digging a small level surface into the hill to form the tread of the trail. This actually reduces erosion and keeps the trail surface solid and stable, and also gets rid of the super thick "carpet" of decaying organic matter and continuous tangle of tiny roots that make up the floor of a hemlock forest.
Benchcut courtesy of my trusty pal "Shotgun Scott."
Funny Hammer - I broke my cheapo trail hammer, so I used the head off my Pick Mattock to drive the remaining nails into bridge #4. It is the longest, highest, and trickiest bridge for riders to traverse, but if you do not hesitate, and instead attempt it with conviction, it rides very nicely. Just don't clip the tree to the right!
This is why we do all the work!
Coming from the West, My friend Jackson rides bridge #4 (left), and I approach #3 (above). Again, if you approach them with a good even pace and some conviction, they are pretty easy. You only get in trouble if you hesitate, or are going too slowly.
A neat feature. I saw this a year or so previous to the build, and knew "I had to ride it!" It was created when a huge oak tree overgrew its grip on the hillside and toppled over, taking all its roots (root wad) and a huge chunk of ground with it. I knocked off the top and we have an instant tricky trail feature. It looks very intimidating, but as before, a little gusto and some good speed and you can clear it pretty easily.
I should mention that mountain bikers are a funny lot. If we see something that looks improbable to ride, that means we have to try it. We're always looking for riding challenges. As always, pictures don't do it justice, and it looks pretty scary in person. The reality is that it is really not that difficult if you concentrate and ride it with conviction and confidence. For those who are more cautious about riding scary stuff, there is a "ride-around" at the top edge of the hill.
As always, you should never TRAVERSE any terrain that you are unsure of, or that you are not familiar with.
When in doubt, CHECK IT OUT!