Thursday, February 25, 2010

Trail Work

Allison and I found ourselves at Valley View Hot Springs 
in Colorado last summer volunteering to do some trail work.

(Please Note: To see an updated version of this post go to
Trail Work At Valley View Hot Springs.)

 This is a steep trail at close to 9000' on the west slope of the
 Sangre De Cristo mountains. Above are Allison and a wonderful
 fellow, Rob Bob, who wanted to help. Rob Bob goes by 
both names so we affectionately combined them.
 He was a wonderful person to work with in this strenuous, 
hard work and we all had a great time. 

I had done a lot of work on this trail some ten years ago
 and it was in dire need of some maintenance.
 For this project we were going to add more steps to stop erosion.
 You can see the bottom step stone is eroding from underneath 
so we wanted to add a step below it so we could backfill to stop
 the erosion.Here we are digging out before placing the step.

Once the stone was set we backfilled with stone of various size
 to keep things from washing out.

Dirt is then put on top to smooth off the surface.
 Notice the stones on either side of the step.
 They help hold the step tight and can be used to help direct people
 to stay on the step. Attention to detail is very important to make a safe trail.

In an effort to fill in the trail below the step
 we added a layer of small stone covered with dirt
along with a long narrow stone to hold things back.

The finished section of trail.

This is another step with much the same problem.
 Years of heavy use have caused the trail below the 
top step to erode. We are adding an extra step
 with a small stone fill.

And now covered and ready for use.

This step shows how deep they can sometimes be.
 The larger the stone the better to keep it in place. 
It is very important to make sure the finished stone 
will stay secure for a very long time. 
Also make sure you pack dirt and small stones 
in very tightly as you back fill.
 I use the but end of the hammer shown in the photo above
 to pack around the step. If the step is not completely firm do not use it. 
Safety is of the utmost importance.

The finished step. Notice the two steps near the top of the photo.

This is the same view after we have added two steps 
and moved a third. One of my rules of thumb in trail work
 is to never introduce foreign materials to the site.
 Use only what is naturally available. 
A good example is: please no rail road ties
 or pressure treated lumber.

My lovely assistant showing the importance of the level. 
The steps should be level and when there is more than
 one step the rise and run should be consistent.
 This can be difficult with stone
 but is a detail not to be ignored. 

The finished section. The pile of stones to the left of the steps
 are actually carefully placed to prevent erosion as it is a spot 
that can channel quite a bit of water in a thunderstorm.
 They also keep people from shortcutting the trail.
 It takes quite a bit of thought to think
 of ways to keep people on the trail.