Perfect Weather for Trail Work

carry.jpgToday was a day off from the woodpile, and a volunteer day of two different sorts. Our good friends from Iron Mountain Pete and Stella and their dogs Sam and Mocha stayed with us last night. We planned to rise early and head up to the pines to do some trail work. Just as we were getting organized to head north, my fire department pager went off, and I was called to a medical emergency. It was close to our house, and I was the first to arrive and start treatment. It set our departure time back an hour, but the work I do with the fire department is some of the most satisfying that I do.

start.jpgArriving at the pines a couple of hours later, we got to work carrying materials back to the project. I wanted to rebuild a bridge over a creek that was becoming unsafe to cross. We can’t blame the old bridge; it has functioned perfectly for about 30 years. The biggest job we have in the pines is getting tools and materials back to the site. As a wilderness nature sanctuary, no motorized vehicles of any sort are allowed, so everything was carried by hand and wheelbarrow.

Once enough lumber was at the site, I could begin fabricating the main structure for the bridge. It consisted of 3 2x8x11′ cedar boards almostdone.jpgI had milled on my sawmill the year before. I attached them together with 2 2x8x3′ boards. Then a downed cedar tree was located nearby and cut into 2 40″ lengths and leveled on either side of the creek. The frame was then tipped onto these cedar logs and toenailed down.

Following that step, the treads were scattered on the frame and the cordless drills were put to work attaching them firmly. This is the stage of the project that it all starts to come together. Everything stiffens up, and it becomes easier to walk across the structure to fetch something, rather than walk through the creek. Once firmly attached, the only project left was to find another bigger downed cedar tree to make a couple of stair treads. Stella was the lucky finder, and we again cut them to length, sawed a step into each one lengthwise with the chainsaw, and attached the finished product to the bridge.

finished.jpgAfter cleanup we were leaving the site, and turned around once more to look at the bridge. In my humble opinion, it is as pretty a bridge as anyone would want to see on a nature sanctuary trail.

With another half hour to spend in the pines, we convinced Pete to show us what has been called the biggest white pine in the sanctuary. It involved hiking up the Memorial Trail until a special place was found, and then bushwhacking cross-country.

Find it we did, and we proudly posed at the base of this magnificent tree for a group picture. We unfortunately didn’t have bigtree.jpga tape with us, because it would have been fun to calculate the diameter of this beauty. Seeing things like this reinforces why we spend so much time and energy volunteering at the Estivant Pines.

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