February 11, 2012

A Day with "Captain Chainsaw"

This morning Ken (aka "Captain Chainsaw") and I met in the woods to prepare the trail for the TARC SPRING THAW 6 HOUR. Ken is a fellow A.V.I.S. warden (Vale Reservation), an avid paddler (SRWA), and a HUGE help! What I anticipated as a hit and run mission evolved into five rewarding hours in the woods, two beers and a burger (and a herd of goats). Our trail accomplishments felt like hard-work soaked in satisfaction sauce.

How does one lure Captain Chainsaw out on a Saturday morning? 
These magic words: "You cut, I haul."
Bye-bye Blockage.

Armed with heavy duty loppers and over-sized Cartharts, I led the way to sections with multiple trees blocking the trail.  While trail runners view such natural obstacles as minor, the "hopping-over" exercise could get old quite quickly on a repeated loop during a six-hour ultra. We cut it out of the equation. 

I was thankful to enjoy Ken's upbeat company and guidance about what, how and why to clear along the trail. He is thorough. He is meticulous. Ken spent part of Friday night preparing his chainsaw, ensuring he brought enough fuel for at least two tanks, and packing ear protection for his guide, the Trail Pixie. Ken smoothed every two-plus-inch stump he spotted, felled dead wood, and freed widow-makers on the verge.  He illustrated that by removing certain trees across the trail we'd encourage greater use of the reservation by hikers, cross-country skiers and folks on snow shoes! The trail was already in decent shape (thanks co-wardens) and we made it even more passable. 

These goats endorsed our day's work:
Whoever is responsible for these curious creatures
is also potentially in charge of unlocking the gate at the top of the field.
Good to know.
We took down a few small trees that were unstable upon closer inspection. "Emily, one wind storm in the next two weeks and this rotten tree will fall across your path. Then what? You'll wonder why we didn't 'drop it' today."  Spoken like a seasoned trail man; thus is the logic of Captain Chainsaw. As a fellow warden, I am well aware that the saplings, weeds and invasive species grow back gang-busters. I prune aggressively. Captain Chainsaw and the Trail Pixie were well paired for this outing; we were on a mission. 
While I started the morning with two areas of concern, Ken and I walked the entire loop and made  improvements that would have taken me alone three or more weekends to accomplish. Thank you, Ken! The runners of the upcoming race are grateful (in advance), as are the community members who frequent Rafton and the adjoining Andover Trails! 

The TARC SPRING THAW 6 HOUR loop still has it's mud, rocks, water-crossings, and mischievous stumps. But now it is more open and accommodating. 

Below are photos along the course taken on 2/4/12.

 Ken informed me this is called "Corduroy"
We added more cuttings to the section on the left (of tree) for reinforcement. 
Still, expect to get your feet "damp" through here.

 We opened up this trail and removed the log between the stone wall.
It's near "Abbot Pasture," which is actually no longer used as a pasture.
Depending on how you are feeling after repeated course loops, 
you may want to be "put out to pasture."

 If you want to take a nap you may do it here...
on this firm bench. 
"But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep."

Ken informed me this is NOT "corduroy," as it is oriented in the wrong direction. 
So, I now pronounce it "Seersucker."
This section remains "AS IS," so passersby
may enjoy the diverse fabric of these woods... 


Flat, open, potentially wet: the loop crosses 
the power lines in three different sections.
This is the approach/view of the second of the three crossings.

"Harold's Trail"
One of the few inclines along the route before the "Scout Camp."

 Pine-needle party at "Scout Camp"

 Along "Helen's Trail."

 While cutting through the Hammond lot, enjoy the view of this open field as you head left (violet line) back into the woods, which are lovely, dark and deep.

 Two trails diverge in a yellow wood. You get to travel both, many times.
Green line shows the running direction heading into the loop (.6 mi);
Violet line indicates the direction returning from loop (approx. 2.9 mi).

"On second thought, I think I am more crazy than my goat."


kZ said...

Great (hard) work Em... wishing I could be there on race day to enjoy the fruits of your labor - and to thank you in person. You're such a good RD!! Hugs from Enchantmentland :)


Unknown said...

I can't wait! I am not trained, but I can't wait nonetheless! It'll be good to break the winter doldrums and get out there with my trail running peeps! Great preview and numerous thumbs up for your hard work with the trail clean up. Let me know if you need an extra set of hands with trail marking or prep.

RawBodyGoddess said...

That is AWESOME!!! You really ARE a Trail Pixie!!! :)

Unknown said...

Awesome post much fun loved the pics and got so excited to get out there on those trails....even your blog is like a work of art : ) and to top it off you added in cherry on the whip cream : )