I’m trying to take a break from everything right now, including any pressure I put on myself to keep a group of about 200 of you updated on my day-to-day life. So, after my previous post, I didn’t bother posting anything else, and the computer didn’t go with me to Arkansas for our family get-together and the hanging around in the woods that followed. I hope you can all appreciate that.
As I kick off my “unstructured training” phase, my plans include kickboxing and Mixed Martial Arts. It’s something I’ve always been interested in, so why not give it a go now? Sometime in the near future, I’m gonna take a horseback riding lesson, too. I even found my old hunt cap in my parent’s attic. Though, according to my BFF Megan, those are totally out of use now (mine doesn’t fit without extra hair, anyway).
Despite my rampant full-body soreness, Wednesday morning, I packed up and left with my parents to go to the cabin in Mountain View. I didn’t take a bike- just my Silky saw and stuff to hike/clean trails (Matt would drive over Friday with the bikes and whatnot). My dad (I have a pic of my mom sleeping in the truck, too, but she’d disown me for posting it):
Once we were settled in the cabin and I made the obligatory trip to WalMart for groceries, I put the turkey in to brine (my mom also got an early start on the gravy) and took my dad’s truck (a Chevy Avalanche) to the mountain to get started on the section of the Blue trail that climbs from Livingston Creek up Scrappy Mountain. Having a 4wd truck with heavy duty suspension allows you to park much closer to where you want to work than the Element. I saved myself about half an hour of walking (15 minutes each way) by venturing down a logging road to get to the trail:
I worked on about a mile of trail for the next 2 hours. The recent logging in the area had left a lot of trees that eventually fell over the trail, along with the expected thorny overgrowth. At the time, they’d also re-routed the trail away from the part that was logged, but then didn’t fix it once they were done, so if you were heading up the mountain, it was easy to miss the original trail to the left and take the much less interesting/fun reroute (if you were going down, it wasn’t a problem, because you never ran into an obvious trail marker pointing you in the wrong direction). I cut lots of deadfall to that spot, then cleaned the turn/flipped the trail marker to get you going the correct way at the turn that’d been logged
…if you notice in that photo, the arrow on the trail marker now points left. It was pointing right, and the turn to the original trail to the left was brushy and hard to see. So I flipped the arrow, blocked the logging re-route, and made the original trail easy to follow.
That evening, my aunt (on the right), uncle, and grandmother (middle) arrived, and we went out to eat catfish.
Thanksgiving morning, I went back to the same spot and gave a similar treatment to the next section of trail from the turn to the Stairway. At the stairway, I cleaned out a bunch of leaves that were settling/composting in every nook & cranny. It was difficult without a rake, but allows everyone to see just how cool the Stairway is when it’s not covered up in leaves.
Once I was done with that section, it was time to go back and eat turkey, then come back and finish the section from Livingston Creek to the stairway. That part was mostly chopping greenbriers and bamboo. Sucky fact of the day- the section of blue trail between the two Livingston Creek crossings is marked for logging. They’ve already driven a heavy truck a few times through the crossing closest to the highway and rutted the creek bed out.
As soon as I got back to the cabin, I ate the desert I’d skipped earlier (blackberry crumble). Manual labor makes everything taste better. We wrapped up the evening dozing off to the Egg Bowl on TV.
I got a good night’s sleep so I could do it again (then ride) the next day when Matt arrived. I’ll save that for the next post. ‘Til then, here’s the theme song of the week: