Pines Boardwalk Extravaganza

epines.jpgToday Alice and I left the house shortly after 6:00 AM and headed north for Copper Harbor. We picked up our friend Charlie Eshbach along the way. We met 3 other guys at the trailhead at the Estivant Pines, loaded up the wheelbarrow with tools, and headed up the trail. The goal was to build the 3 boardwalks that we had staged the lumber for last fall during Michigan Tech’s “Make a Difference Day.”

epine2.jpgWe decided to start with the shortest and simplest boardwalk, a 16′ one that crosses a seasonal creek on the newest part of the trail. As the guy in charge, I wanted everyone to understand how these things go together. The downside to this one is we all spent quite a bit of the time slogging through some pretty slimy water. The upside was that once it was done, no hikers would have to get their feet wet again. It did take us a while to figure out what was going on, but once we got the hang of it, the project went very well.

Our next stop was the second project, which also happened to be on top of a long hill, and about as far into the sanctuary as the trails go. epine3.jpgGetting the wheelbarrow full of tools up there was the biggest challenge, but by working together, we managed quite well. When we got there, I suggested we dig the lumber out that was stashed away out of sight, and lay the stringers out to get an idea where the foundation pieces should go. Without another word, the guys got to work, and that was just about the last suggestion I had to make. These guys learned so quickly that we had about 40′ of boardwalk completed in about half the time it took us to build the 16′ one earlier in the day. In this picture, we have laid out the treads, and are screwing them down to the stringers. After that, we built a stair step on one end out of a squared off cedar log, and we called it completed. It isn’t obvious in this picture, but to the left of the boardwalk the trail goes through a very wet area that will never have to be walked again.

Other projects have been undertaken at the homestead since the last post. I managed to nurse the old John Deere around the lawn and get it finished. The fuel system was leaking, and the grass was so long after weeks of neglect that the poor old mower really had to work to get it done. At the end I parked the mower in the garage, and hoisted it up on jack stands to see if I could find the fuel leak. This leak was unfortunately my fault. I’d replaced the fuel line some years ago, but instead of using the correct material, I used the plastic tubing used in fish tanks. That stuff proved to be too flimsy for the environment it had to work in. I thought I’d just install a repair barb at the site of the leak, but on second thought, I purchased enough regular fuel line to completely replace the old stuff. Now I’ll hopefully won’t have to redo it again for a while.

As I was doing this repair, I noticed the belt that transmits power to the mower deck was in very bad shape. I decided to replace that too, and had luckily purchased and stored a replacement one. With Alice’s help, I got the mower deck belt installed, and the mower deck back on the machine. The engineers of this mower did some very smart things, but surely figured that someone with smaller arms than mine would be installing the mower deck. It eventually got done, and the refurbished mower was proudly backed into its barn.

While I was in town buying the parts I needed for the mower, I bumped into a friend from work I hadn’t seen in years. He invited me to visit for a while, and I took him up on it. It was great to sit down with him and his wife, both of whom were colleagues during my Michigan Tech years.

I can remember how as a kid, I hated to go “visiting” with my parents. It seemed like all they did was sit around and talk. I’ve found as the decades have rolled by, that sitting around and talking is not all that bad. Although, after a day in the rain in the pines, laying around in a warm bed sounds even better.

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