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Archive for September, 2012

Getting Ready for the Upcoming Season

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

Hello Fasterskier readers. I hope you enjoyed the summer. Mine was pretty good. The Vermont weather was fantastic and I hope the great summer translates into a mindblowing snowy winter. Before the snow flies there is a lot of work to do on the trails to make them ready for grooming and more importantly, skiing.

Just about once each month during the summer I’d walk the trails with the kids and see what work needed to be completed. There was no plan to expand the trails this season so we just picked up branches and enjoyed the walks. A few windstorms and heavy rain events knocked over a few trees leaving them hanging as Widow Makers or blocking the trails. The grasses and other vegetative matter has grown taller than a newly minted fourth grader and needs to be cut.

The trail winds through here. The scythe cuts a swath wide enough to leave a skate width trail.

Done cutting the path.

Here are a few kids for scale. The scythe is awesome for clearing the trails. Quiet and efficient.

The scythe cut through the base of an Ostrich Fern. The base is the size of an artichoke.

The bridge we worked so hard to install last season has held up great and is inundated by Maidenhair Ferns The tree companies clearing branches from the powerlines needed a place to dump chips so we snagged a few loads for distribution into hollows and uneven terrain. Much easier to move lightweight chips than move earth with a shovel and definitely less cash expensive compared to renting or hiring and excavator to level things a bit. The chips should add a bit of organic matter to the muck, decompose and build decent soil to support growing grass. Mowing sucks but making a pass twice a year with the scythe is actually good exercise and enjoyable.

The trail passes through the downed log and right below this hanging Widow Maker. Hopefully the removal won’t generate any exciting posts.

Maidenhair Ferns at the bridge. These are my favorite fern. They remind me of a beach filled with umbrellas.

The grass seed we spread in the spring has grown into a decent carpet and after the autumnal mowing we’ll put down a bit of limestone to sweeten the soil a bit since a good percentage of the trails run through conifer laden woods and tend to have acid soils. Adding chips will acidify things too and the limestone will help counter the effect of the chips. The spot or in this case meandering treatment will give the grass a better shot at remaining strong and hold the trails together and with luck, help cover the small rocks and other base destroying detritus scattered about.

Moderate success with the grass. This 30 meter section of trail is always wet and the dry summer helped keep the grassletts from drowning.

Each spring this dug well has water surrounding the tiles at the ground surface. During the summer I use the well to gauge the ground water level. This summer has been dry. Each tile is two feet high. The snippet in the top right corner is the bottom of the first completely buried tile. The ground water level has fallen almost eight feet since spring.

In addition to trail work there is rebuilding the roller and welding up a new leveling drag. These two tasks should have been completed during the summer when I had more time. I had a professor in college who’d assign a term paper on Monday with it due on Friday. Students complained and his response: “Even with the semester to do it most of you won’t start until the due date is two days away so I’m saving you the stress of worrying about it.” Term papers and trail work suddenly feel connected.

One motivator for getting started now and not waiting for the first snow to begin the work is keeping up with the blog. I appreciate the comments and feedback from the readers. If there is anything you’re curious about please ask. This will be the third season of the at home trail network and I’m really excited to see what the season brings.

This beer bottle was buried beneath the leaf litter and tree debris. Not sure of the era but am going to guess sometime in the 70s. Finding relics like this always makes me think about who did what with the forest and if someone in 40 years will find something (trash, trail, tool, etc) I left behind and to make them wonder about the woods.