Hauling a bucket of paint around for 7 hours isn’t for the weak. I bought a gallon of yellow paint and Woody gave me another gallon so I had hopes of marking the entire trail today. I brought the bike along in hopes of getting a loop in after marking the new section. The first gallon didn’t even get me to where I left off last weekend so I had to go back to the truck to get the next can. The next can completed the new loop and since I was covered in paint already and starving I figured I would skip the ride keep painting. So I started on the first part of phase 1 to double up the markings I did last season. I completed that section but I didn’t have enough paint to finish out the rest of the phase 1 loop so I walked my weary body down to the creek to wash up and kick back. I made it back to the truck at 4:00 and I can’t remember being so sore. My forearms, biceps and shoulders are quivering as I’m trying to type this. Nothing a margarita won’t cure I guess. Next week I plan on riding some loops and maybe grilling some hotdogs.
I blew off PORC trail maintenance this weekend to go work on the Blackwater trail. It’s all cut but it needs to be marked so we can get to riding it. There is a trail maintenance day scheduled for May 2nd and that would be a perfect time to get in some laps and clean up some bad lines. So I took my gallon of yellow paint and a new paint brush and the dog and started tagging trees. I probably over tagged but the trail is pretty hard to follow so I pretty much tagged every tree along the trail. I made it about 2 miles before running out of paint (2 miles per gallon) so I pin flagged until I ran out of flags. The dog was a time saver because he could follow the trail when I couldn’t see it. He would walk in front of me and I would put in flags. When I doubted he knew where he was going, I would search around for burned flags and there one would be. I’ve got a request in for two more gallons so I can finish up next weekend. 5 hours.
It wasn’t as epic as the Trans-Continental Railroad or The Chunnel but the ends of the trail now meet. Steve and I breezed through the last 1000 feet in record time. We got a late start so the temperature had climbed from the coolness of the morning but it was so dry it wasn’t uncomfortable. I let Steve do the lopping and I handled the ax, which proceeded to hurt me every chance it got. I think they make trampolines out of some of that wood because the ax just bounces off of it. About 5:00 we connected the ends and celebrated with warm tap water and expired Clif bars. I got two cans of yellow spray paint to tag trees with and each of us armed ourselves with a can and worked in opposite directions until we ran out of paint. We relocated some flags to make the trail a little easier to follow. There’s still a lot of marking to do because the trail has disappeared in some places due to the fire and the rain. The ground cover is coming back so the trail needs to get ridden to help beat back some of the growth. We rode out through what we had just cut and back up the hill. It sure was a long climb, I bet it’s at least a half a mile. It should be fun the other direction.
I had strong help today with Steve and Barbara. We did 1000 feet and my back feels it. We rode what we cut last weekend and it was pretty hard pulling the trailer up some of the hills but it was very rideable. I pinned almost the rest of the trail while Steve chopped and Barbara lopped. The pinning is pretty difficult due to the steepness of the slope and the densness of the vegetation. I stayed mostly at 5% with some very short steep sections and some large switchbacks. The cross slope is probably 15%. The trails goes almost down to the railroad bed and the hill continues onward past the bed. The map shows that area being wetland or floodplain so I won’t be going there but it’s tempting. At some point in the pinning process, I thought I disturbed a yellowjacket nest because I heard buzzing. I stopped and looked around and the buzzing got louder, almost like wind blowing through the pines. It faded away and I never saw anything but I guess maybe it was a bee colony moving to a new location (or maybe a military drone?). After pinning I grabbed the ax to help Steve with some of the grunt work. We worked until about 2:30 when hunger wouldn’t be tamed by Clif Bars any longer. I think there’s about 1000 feet to go and it looks easy. We took Steve to the new Blackwater Bistro in Milton. Awesome place. It would be perfect after the Saturday group ride that leaves from Truly Spokin’. Good beer and burgers and a veranda for hanging out on and plenty of bike parking.