Today was another wonderful day at High Rock, and I am overjoyed with the work we were able to complete today. Along with learning lots of things as we were working, we had to overcome some challenges at our site. Fortunately, the working environment improved magnitudes over the last time we were at High Rock. I remember how I came home covered in mud from head to toe as we got unlucky with the weather, and the frozen dirt in the morning turned into slippery mud in the afternoon, that was one heck of a day! Today was much better, but as most things in life, goals always sound simple on paper. While actually doing them might also be simple, putting in the work and effort is always the biggest challenge. Thankfully, my crew pulled through today and we managed to exceed our expectations with the work we did. At the end of the day I was able to look back fondly and say that we did a great job.
Previously we, the Sparkling Unicorns, or more formally known as Team B were tasked with creating a water bar and check step on a trail that was very prone to flooding. For a quick description, a water bar is a piece of trail infrastructure that is built into a trail to control the flow of water and to redirect it off trails so they don’t get flooded. It can be made out of wood, stone, or any other material. Similarly to the water bar, a check step is a piece of material such as a log or wood plank or stone that is laid into the ground on a trail; it keeps the dirt and sediment in place and prevents these elements from shifting. This allows for the trail to keep its shape when it is directed along a grade. Our site was located on a trail that cut parallel through the side of a hill and then connected with another trail to create a T intersection, with the connecting trail going straight down the hill perpendicular to the main trail. This intersection was a trouble spot and was the site that we worked on. The specific problem was that water would collect in the middle of the intersection and then run off directly on the trail leading down and away from the main path. This would make the dirt on the trails very wet and would turn into slippery mud under normal use. This was especially hazardous because of the grade of the trail stemming down the hill. The trail would turn into a slip and slide, and it would be almost impossible to get traction on the wet ground. We almost had many accidents last time when working on the trail and to get around we were actually skating on the mud. After experiencing the problem first-hand, we knew exactly how important it was for our team to fix this trail.
As mentioned in the beginning, the process was actually simple, but we knew it was going to take a team effort and some elbow grease to get the job done. We, including Ms. Karen, were surprised that our work had withstood the test of time since our last visit. It had been a while since the first visit we made to High Rock due to February break. Both the water bar and check step were seated well into the trail, and when we tried stomping on them to see if they would move, you would have thought we used concrete to secure them. The only things we used were actually an assortment of tools such as a pick mattock, a mcleod, a hoe, a fire rake and normal rake, and dead-blow hammer to create trenches for the wood beams to sit in. Additionally, we used other mini tools such as loppers to clear the paths. We used some rocks to secure the beams at one end, and the other end was securely fastened into a small hill on the side of the trail. Moving forward, after inspecting the features we knew that we didn’t need to spend time fixing anything and were able to focus solely on the goals for today. Our main objectives were to secure the check step using stakes at its base, create an outlet for water further down the trail, smooth out and terraform the dirt around our features, and to get rid of an old feature that was currently on the trail. The feature in question here was an old log that was previously set into the trail. It must have been a water bar similar to the feature we created last time, but it was way out of place. Over time the trail must have shifted around the log since people found it to be an obstacle, and now it just sat in the middle and actually inhibited the flow of water away from the trail. It was very easy to remove the log, in fact Waylon was able to take it out of the ground with his hands. After that we filled in the hole that the log had left behind and smoothed out the area to help water flow more easily down the trail. We also created little divots or mini trenches in front of the water bar and check step in order for it to catch water more effectively. As some of the crew continued to smooth out the rest of the trail, D’Artagnan and I drove the stakes into the ground to reinforce the check step. We used three wooden stakes around 1 inch by 2 inches by 1 foot in size. We used the dead blow hammer which is a tiny yet hefty hammer to drive the stakes to flush with the check step. After that we used the old log from the ground to create an obstacle at the edge of the intersection so that people wouldn’t cut the corner while turning, this would stop the trail from unintentionally getting wider. We also revegetated the edges of the trail, adding leaves and other shrubbery to stop people from wandering off the sides of the trails too much. And after Waylon was done creating the water outlet at the end of the trail, to finish the day off we tried to compact the trail as much as possible before we had to drop our tools and look at the other teams’ sites and present our own.
Overall I was very pleased with today. It felt more productive not having to slip and slide across mud all day. All of our goals were accomplished and it felt like everybody gave 110% of their energy. I was also happy with the work done by the other teams and what they were able to accomplish. It was a great experience, and I seriously can’t wait to see what the next session brings.
Wednesday we went back to High Rock to continue working on a trail. Last time we had gone, my group, P Rock, and I worked on fixing up a trail in the park that had been messed up because of mud and people walking on the sides to avoid the mud. We dug up dirt and moved it to the edge of the trail along with placing logs and branches at the edge of the trail to create some sort of boundary so no one steps to the side and falls. One of the things we had to make sure was that the trail was flat enough for people to walk comfortably without slipping. Last Wednesday our job was to continue working on the trail and extend the its length. My teammates moved more dirt and continued flattening the ground. At one point my job was to make sure to cut the roots coming out of the ground along with branches so that my teammates could continue using their tools. It was really fun. I had to crouch down most of the time to cut the roots, but it wasn’t uncomfortable.
After a while my group dug up a boulder from the ground. We had noticed that almost at the end of the trail there were rocks sticking out of the ground, so I thought that maybe they were small and could easily be broken or taken out. I was actually surprised to see that it was a big boulder. Because it was hard to take out and move it somewhere else, Chris said we’d have to use rock bars. He and Codio brought them to us, and I was surprised again because they were metal bars. They were actually heavy and when we used them we had to use two bars to move the boulder. It was weird for me to use them because one pole had to slightly lift up the boulder and then the other had to go under to lift it up a bit more which would allow for the rock to be moved. For the bars, two people were needed. All of us took turns using them and moving the boulder. After a break, we continued to work on the trail and flattened the ground. Our last job was to put leaves and revegetate the sides of the trail so that it appeared more natural. I had to use the bucket to collect leaves from up the trail and down the edge of the trail. It was a really fun day especially because it was warm and there was no mud this time.
We returned to High Rock on Wednesday March 2nd to continue working on a trail. It was a warm day, a little sneak peak of how spring is on the High Rock. This time we were able to see one of the species that inhabit the area, some ducks, and also some native birds. The last time we went, my group, P Rock, and I worked on repairing a damaged trail that people made wider due to the fact they didn’t want to walk on the mud when it rained or snowed.
Last Wednesday, our task was to continue working on it and lengthen the route. I continued to level the ground by raking out dirt .We scooped up the soil, put it to the trail’s edge, and placed logs and branches at the trail’s border to establish some barrier, so no one walks to the side and falls and doesn’t make the trail wider again. By using the fallen branches and leaves the barrier seemed very natural, not man made. Our goal was to ensure that the route was flat enough for people to walk easily without sliding. We had to cut it in a 2 degree incline so the trail is easy to walk on and when it rains water doesn’t accumulate on the trail. After we dug we used a tool called a Mcloud to pat down the soil and make it all leveled up. Mr.Ricker and I eventually pulled up a rock from the ground. Chris taught us how we’d have to use rock bars since it was difficult to remove and relocate.
Last Wednesday’s High Rock trip was definitely the best visit so far for me. It had been a while since the last High Rock meeting due to the break, and we picked right where we left off. The last meeting my group started our hands-on activities by starting to make a safe working trail for hikers, bikers, and others. We learned the mechanics of making a trail in the woods/forest. The main detail we needed was that the trail had a 2 degree incline for walkers because it allows the trail to be more natural and it is easier when people walk on it. We used many tools such as a rock rake, shovel, pickaxe, and many more. We used these tools to dig through dirt and find our distinct area for the trail we wanted to make. Our reasoning for making this trail was, oftentimes, people would walk around the natural trails to avoid mud or any natural effect on the trail. Therefore, they are making new unnecessary, un-natural trails. Our job was to make a natural looking trail that is safe and able to be used.
That is what occurred last time we visited the greenbelt park site. This time we expanded our trail longer than it already was, while fixing some minor mistakes we had on the section we worked on last time. We broke up our group for people to work on separate tasks so we would move faster as a unit. My task at the beginning was to visually find out what was wrong with the trail we had already started. I noticed that our incline got bumpy and uneven towards the middle, so we grabbed tools to dig the dirt up and flatten the trail so it can be even. Through expansion of the trail a huge problem occurred and that was in the form of a humongous rock that was very, VERY heavy. This rock was dug all the way into the ground and wasn’t going to be moved by just hand or any of the tools we were introduced to at that time. Our teacher/leader/mentor Mr. Chris introduced us to a new tool known as a rock pipe. It’s a huge metal bar that is heavy and is used to remove heavy rocks like the one we were dealing with. We used a shovel to dig out the rock from the dirt, that allowed us to have leverage over the angle we needed to take the rock out.