There is a off-road trail around Bear Lake that is pretty dull but this is also a “no hunting” area. I wonder if they would let us add on to the existing trail to make it more challenging. The only problem is it’s further away from Pensacola. On the plus side, connecting Bear Lake with the Juniper Creek area is not that hard to do. I think I have ridden the whole distance without being on pavement for more than a mile or so. Creating a trail up the east side of Juniper Creek going north is part of my Big Picture plan. Part of the Florida Trail goes through the Bear Lake area but since there is already a bike trail, they couldn’t raise any complaints.
This is by no means the final product, just what has been flagged so far. I’m guessing a bunch will go away but this is what I’ve presented to the biologists and the forestry people. Phase 3 will hopefully be to the southwest.
We flagged the rest of phase 2 today. It was open forest and easy to move through so we managed 6900 feet. Some of us were getting whiny but others of us pressed on to finish up. We were rewarded with baby back ribs from The Red Barn. We passed several tortoise holes along the way so I don’t expect we will be using all of what we’ve flagged. I’m not clear on the tortoise habitat, if we just avoid the holes or the habitat. Either way, at least half of what we’ve done is not tortoise habitat. Now I have to piece together all the flagging to make a loop. After we were told to stay away from the ravines, I just kept on flagging what I had and hoped it would come together. I pretty much covered the available area with trail. When the biologists go through behind me, I will revise the trail around their holes and then connect the dots. I’ve heard the biologists were overwhelmed at this point so I don’t know what the time frame is. No shots were fired today and I think deer season is closing soon. On to phase 3. Time spent: 2.5 hours X 2 = 5 hours.
We covered quite a lot today, from point 2054 to point 2100. I was doubtful we would get far as the weather radar showed a large storm coming our way. When we got to point 2o98, we heard gunfire not too far away, well within the ‘no hunting’ zone. We didn’t have a phone on us to call the law so we did the last two points then headed back to the car. It started raining on us just as we were getting out of the woods. Perfect timing. The reason we got as far as we did was the forest was very clear, perfect tortoise habitat. We saw several holes so I suspect that most of what we did will be unbuildable. But we won’t know if we don’t put it out there. Barbara also scored a deer skull that will find it’s way into an empty space in the house. Time spent: 6 hours (3 hours X 2 people)
As far as how I make these points, it’s pretty simple. I created a map that is spatially correct of the trail in AutoCAD using aerials and contours and other data that seemed important. Then I draw a proposed trail trying to make it interesting just by looking at the contours and aerials. I then took this “alignment” and created points on it every 100 feet. The program I use to do this is Land Development, an add-on feature to AutoCAD. This alignment can also be looked at as a profile to see how the trail goes up and down the terrain. It’s very easy to edit this to keep our grades maintainable. After I create the points, I export the points to a text file. This file has the latitudes and longitudes that I have to transfer to the GPS software. This I have to do a point at a time, but several beers and some good music make the time go by pretty quickly. Then I find the points in the woods with the GPS. Pretty simple and wholesale changes really aren’t that bad. Trying to do this without the technology would be a huge pain, probably not worth doing.
I flagged about 4000 feet this morning. The forest was nice and open. The last several times have been in the 1500 to 2000 foot range but it was very dense. I also scouted a creek crossing to begin phase 3. It looked like a wetland area and it was a jungle but I think it will be a shorter impact. I also found several tortoise holes but I didn’t reroute the trail. I’ll let the FWC comb the area and locate all of them for me. Then I can reroute on the computer which is a lot easier than trying to figure it out in the woods. Time spent: 4 hours.
Brian with the FWC is getting transfered so I now send my files to Barb. They were using Garmin GPS units so I’m going to send the whole point file to them. Then I just tell them where I’ve flagged and they can download the coordinates. Should be easy. I also want to start putting names on trails and abandond roads so I can describe locations and shortcuts.
We had a good meeting last night with the Northwest Florida Water Management District. They are eager for us to be using their property. We think the first parcel to be developed will be the one north of Highway 90 and south of I-10 on the Perdido River. They say there are lots of uplands and a pretty good hill but I haven’t seen any topo maps yet. Their main goal is to protect the water. Most of their property is wetlands so we aren’t allowed to impact any of that. They also are protecting against any runoff into the Perdido River. We as bikers are pretty low on the impact scale, right up there with hikers and hunters. By virtue of the fact that we are represented, we get to build bike trails. And all the represented groups are equal so we can’t be out numbered except by the other committee members. If there are 200 equestrian people and only 3 bikers, we still have equal power. Of course once the trails get established, we have to use and maintain them or we get kicked out of the group. This area certainly isn’t as big as Blackwater, only 5000 acres over 5 parcels, it’s still possible to have a desent network of trails. We may be able to tie all 5 parcels together by paved or dirt roads to get a really large loop although maintaining that would suck. Hopefully some people from Alabama and West Pensacola will start using the trail and help maintain it. As soon as I get some maps, I’ll post them.
It’s wet and foggy and warm. Thunderstorms are in the forcast. Both of us are still coughing. Tomorrow looks beautiful but we both have to work. Hopefully we can get out there next weekend. We have a meeting Tuesday with the NWFWMD about trails on their property on the Perdido River. These trails will probably be nothing more than an easy loop through the woods but you never know. We’re pursuing it anyway. There might be some budding bikers on that side of town.
The new GPS arrived yesterday. Pretty cool. It was raining today so I didn’t get up to the woods. Hopefully tomorrow. I’m looking at the phase 3 portion on the computer. I’m going to do a quick layout and see what it looks like. We still have a long way to go on phase 2 so I’m not too worried about it yet.
I ordered a new GPS yesterday. This one will hopefully do everything but cut trail. I’ve been using Jason’s for several months now and I’m sure he wants it back. He even gave me a really nice Christmas bonus so I would have no excuse not to get one. I got it at a good price so it wasn’t so painful.
When I was posting the link to Google Earth, they wanted to make sure that I wasn’t posting something that hadn’t already been posted. By doing this, I got to see all the other postings in the area. There were none in the immediate area, but the ones I found were interesting. There is a guy, or guys, going around the world locating all the confuences of the latitude and longitude lines. There happens to be one north of the trail on the Alabama/Florida line. There is also a guy locating ants. The site that caught most of my interest was the bigfoot sightings in the area. That ought to make for some interesting night rides!