Monday, March 14, 2016

two trail maintenance days

This past weekend I participated in two local trail maintenance events:

Mt. Warner -- Gravelcrafting
On Friday, March 11, about a dozen people helped improve a frequently flooded section of trail at the Trustees' Mt. Warner reservation in Hadley, MA (see the Trustees' website for this site here). Starting at 9 a.m., we first had to spread some gravel and lay down medium-size sticks along a very muddy section of the right-of-way access road on an adjacent parcel at the northern end of the site, to ensure that the truck carrying the gravel could get up there. Then the truck dumped load after load of gravel (about one per hour) at the wet spot where we spent the next few hours working. First we spread the gravel out along and across the road using rakes and shovels, then made sure it was level or, in some spots, raised just slightly on uphill side for drainage. We also dug a decent-sized ditch on the downhill side of the road to allow for future drainage to be shunted away into an adjacent flat area where it could spread out and soak in and/or run down the nearby slope.

some photos from this work day
digging the drainage ditch

improving the trench

dumping gravel

spreading gravel

the finished section

Mineral Hills Conservation Area -- Spring Trail Work Day
On Saturday, March 12, about 20 people showed up to work on the trails at this site (see map), which is site #38 in my Trail Running Western Massachusetts guidebook. We split into several groups and headed to different areas. One group headed out with chainsaws to get rid of blowdowns. Another group went out to repair boardwalks. And a third went out to trim back shrubs and new growth. A fourth group, the one I was in, went up to the parking area at the upper end of Turkey Hill Road and cleared overgrown sections of the unnamed road/trail south of Stagecoach Trail, from the parking area up to its junction(s) with Stagecoach. Then I worked alone on the westernmost spur path leading up from a 4-way junction along Stagecoach to the southwestern corner of the quarry, mostly trimming shrubs, briars, and saplings, and leveling a few lumpy spots. And I also trimmed back a bunch of stuff growing out into the trail along the southwestern arc of the quarry loop trail, up to the new link trail that leads over to the Summit Trail. Afterwards, I also did a little bit of pricker and sapling trimming at the Sylvester Road parking area / trailhead sign kiosk.
(see the site's Facebook page for more details).

the quarry at Mineral Hills, looking north

After both days, my arms and neck were sore and skin on my keyboard-soft hands got rubbed a bit raw (I write and edit and make computer maps, and run and bike, so my hands are pretty wussy), but it feels really good to have given back a little bit and helped to maintain runnable/hike-able trails at some of the sites I enjoy frequently.

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