8/19 Winslow Trail: Building Steps & Waterbars

8/19/23 Winslow Trail. Photo by Craig.

This workday offers a good example of the 6 P's: proper planning prevents poor performance. Well, we are still learning.

This begins with our Board deciding that each 3rd Saturday in the season May-October is a predictable and regular workday. So, we advertised it on Nature Groupie back on 7/31. We invited everyone on our email list (40 people) two weeks before the day. Two days before, our trailmaster flagged 17 sites for new or repair work downhill of the jobs we did in the last two years, including a 12-rock staircase. We arrived at 0900 Saturday morning to find we were 12 volunteers, lots of tools, and plans for getting things done.

A team of three worked the 1.1 miles to the summit, trimming back branches as they went with hand tools: loppers and saws. Another team of three followed: a certified sawyer, their tender, and a swamper. They cut blowdowns to use as trailside barricades now and to replace old steps and waterbars later. Both teams finished their tasks and descended to join the rest of the crew by 1500.

The remaining six volunteers had 4' bars, 2.5-lb pick-mattocks, long-handle shovels, 5' loops of 1" nylon webbing, loppers, saws, the worklist, an experienced team leader, and the trailmaster getting in everyone's way and taking photos for the website. They used blowdown spruce to replace old wood waterbars: 16', 23'.. Those will last 5-8 years, then be replaced by newer ones. No live trees were cut for these, and loppers and saws were enough to trim them for their new job.

After lunch by the powerline, the crew built two rock waterbars to get runoff beyond where it could flow back onto the trail. Hikers have widened the trail in the last three years. The new bars are one of small rocks built as a retaining wall below the outflow ditch. The other is one rock, which they rigged with two loops of webbing with a 4' bar as a handle. One person each side facing each other, the lift and swing on count of three, and they had that 100-lb rock uphill to its new home in less than five minutes. Both waterbars now have barricades below them to channel hikers onto the trail. While here, we were joined by the trimming team from the summit. Their team leader had to go home, and the others stayed. They used loppers to cut branches and roots.

Spare blowdown log as barricade below 1-rock waterbar
Pin rock during lunch, with tools and caution sign for hikers

Next uphill was an 8' waterbar. SOP, trim a blowdown spruce, set it in a new ditch with a drain uphill, a runoff ditch down into the woods, add a big pin rock at each end...

Last job this day was to add two rock steps at the head of a gully. We set the bigger flatter one deep in the soil so it will not soon be undermined, a smaller one just uphill of it but tucked behind so the lower one supports the upper one, a third one set in its own hole. Comfortable to walk, gets hikers up out of the gully, slows erosion. Seven sites done today.

The crew hard at work making a new waterbar
8/19/23 Winslow Trail. Photo by Craig.

These volunteers were adaptable, focused, skilled, open-minded and good learners. They all claimed to have a good time, and said they'd be back again. One was given a new nickname. Ten more items to go on this list, several more trails to go, and two months left in the building season.

Here's tae them! Thanks tae them all! Deanabh sin ceart (Do it right).

Respectfully submitted,
Craig Sanborn, CHVTC