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Archive for October, 2011

Oh sNOw

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Thursday was the last day for 3rd and 4th grade boys soccer practice. As is tradition, the last gathering consisted of a game where the parents play the kids. Always fun. What made this year’s game even more interesting was the driving snow squalls during the game. By morning, a bit over an inch of snow had fallen. The entire family was excited.

I am looking forward to a good snowy winter but am not ready for it just yet. There is too much trail prep work to get finished, equipment to fix, and equipment to build. We’ve flagged out a new section of trail on a neighboring property and it has to be cut and a few spots need leveling so it will ski well without needing feet of snow to smooth it out.

A new trail section passes through an old stone wall.

Hurricane Irene dropped a lot of water onto Vermont. We didn’t suffer any flood damage but the rain saturated the ground making it very wet and muddy. Many of the trails on our lot are glorified logging roads used to take firewood out of the forest.  The trails are also relatively free from overhead branches and obstructions. I tend to drop trees onto the trails to avoid leaving too many widow makers hanging around. Trees falling through branches above the trails are torn off trunks opening up the canopy to allow more snowflakes to reach the skiing surface.

A small hitch of birch logs blocking the trail

The rain has made it difficult to drive a tractor or pick-up truck on the trails to gather the wood. Tire ruts freeze leaving an uneven trail requiring more snow to end up with a skiable surface. Right now the trails are littered with downed trees and piles of bucked up logs.

There have been a few improvements to the trails. One of my summer jobs is landscaping which is rewarding and I get paid to work out. About a month ago we were on a job setting stone and building walls at a property at a nearby lake. The tree guys were chipping up a small grove of pines. My house is about 2 miles from this jobsite and the tree guys needed someplace to dump the chips. I scored about 20 cubic yards of fresh woodchips. Perfect for filling in ruts and covering rocks. One evening after work I drove a tractor home and spent a few hours shuttling chips to areas of the trails needing a bit of fill. Since the trails are pretty soft, many of the chips were stockpiled with the intent of using a wheelbarrow and shovel to bring them into areas unreachable by tractor.

A stockpile of woodchips waitting for distribution

While I had the tractor at the house I used it to skid out a few large trees to be used for a bridge to cross a small section of creek on the new trail section. The trunks will be the main beams to support decking to hold snow.

Some other scrounging turned up a piece of 24″ diameter plastic culvert. An extensive sewer and water upgrade in a nearby town got me thinking about scrap pipe. After finding the foreman and asking to haul away some pipe, he gave me permission to dig around and take anything behind the old salt storage building. I lucked out and found a piece of large diameter culvert about six feet long. Perfect for a roller. If I’m not too rushed I’ll try to document the roller build.

Nate and Olivia testing the culvert's ability to roll snow

The forecast calls for an additional bit of snow to fall over the weekend. If I can get the logs moved and there is enough snow we can open the ’11-12 season in October.

If any readers have questions or curiosities about grooming a neighborhood trail system, please feel free to ask.