Sunday, June 03, 2007

Getting dirty for the trails

Yesterday I had the chance to listen to politicians here or feed my soul by helping out on National Trails Day by joining a work crew out of the Tennessee Valley in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It wasn’t a very hard decision -- the trail project was maintenance on one of my favorite trails, Old Springs, a route I've probably run 50 times. On a clear day, which this wasn't, it provides the best view of the Farrallon Islands I've ever glimpsed.

We gathered early in the morning in the Tennessee Valley and nervously eyed a pile of tools.

Were our leaders really going to try to get serious work out of this motley crew? The group was mostly in the their 20s and 30s, though I was glad to see some other relative oldsters, including some of a contingent from Team Hamana. This, I was told, is "a drinking club with a biking problem."

Volunteers were offered the option of trailside brush clearing or hauling logs uphill for later use in controlling seepage from underground springs. Again a no-brainer choice for me. Brush clearing is like gardening or dieting: you do it, and then you have to do it again. I don't get much sense of accomplishment. But moving stuff from here to there -- that I understand.

Here the log hauling crew gets its instructions. The logs are peeler cores -- what's left over after a lumber mill shaves off the outer portion of a tree to make the very thin wood sheets that are glued together as plywood. The cores are then soaked in wood preservative to make them partially impervious to termites and wood rot. Logs from the first pile we carried were reasonably light -- 65-80 pounds. The second pile was damp -- and some of them felt like about 120 pounds.

We shouldered up and set out in pairs.

It was a bit of a slog up the up the hill, but folks were game. We carried the logs about two tenths of a mile. REI donated the photogenic t-shirts and sent a pro to document us, but these photos are mine.

My partner, Edward, was a skinny guy who kindly put up with my slow old lady pace. In a couple of hours, we carried up five logs; the speedy folks managed more like seven.

When we'd moved most of the piles, we returned to the valley feeling good about ourselves and ready to scarf bagels, fruit and energy bars.

The brushcutters wandered in, having cleared the sides of a quarter mile of trail.

Would I do this again? Yes! Am I sore? Yes.

1 comment:

sfmike said...

That looks fun. Do invite me along next time.

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