Thursday, March 21, 2013

The trail gods giveth and taketh away.

A couple of weeks ago North County San Diego got a couple of inches of much needed rain. That's great for the park. Not always so for the trails in the park. While I do boost a fairly bullet proof trail system two solid inches of rain in 12 hours is a serious downpour at least in So Cal.
Raptor Ridge before

On to the story. The trail god giveth. I say this because two days after the rain the soil on the Raptor Ridge trail (mostly decomposed granite DG) was in perfect shape for a trail maintenance crew. Early Sunday  morning as part of my monthly trail maintenance crew me and my army of 4 hardy volunteers set off to Raptor Ridge to attempt to take care of some much needed trail work. Passing the bottom sections it was good to see a lot of the previous work held up with only a few failures. Mid way we came to a badly eroded steep section of trail and got to work. Amazingly within an hour and a half the trail had taken shape and all the issues fixed. We fixed another small section after that and a nasty foot deep entrenched section higher up. In the summer time this would be a near impossible task requiring a boat load more volunteers and resources. This shows what a few motivated individuals can do to a trail in a couple hours.

And the trail god taketh away. Meanwhile in the Del Dios Gorge area of the park a section of trail (mostly a loamy clay) took a beating from the rain. We had been doing extensive work in the area weeks before. At the time we were working the soil was very compact and hard making it difficult to move around. But after many hard hours with machine and man we got the trail to bend to our will. We thought the rain would be good for setting in the trail and it would have if it didn't rain two inches. The trail did work amazingly well and the drain dips were effective at getting water off the trail but since there was a lot of soil that got moved around the consistency below the surface of the trail was 4 inches of mud. If the trail goes untouched then its fine it dries out, turns solid and you have a well armored trail. If it rains on a Friday and the weekend is around the corner not so good. I guess because it was raining Friday nobody could get out to ride so people were raring to go by the weekend.

I can see how the first couple riders got caught out in the unexpected muddy conditions. It seems though that after awhile it became a challenge. As soon as it became apparent the trail was in no condition to ride people went everywhere to avoid the mud, in the drains, in the habitat causing considerable damage the likes a which could rival some of the cyclo cross races I've seen. Again this shows what a few motivated individuals can do to a trail in a couple of hours.

The trail has since been repaired to the best of our ability. Those sections of trail will be a constant reminder of how the trail gods giveth, and how they taketh away. 

Oh and please stay off the trails for at least 24hrs after a rain. Thank you.

Ranger Dave

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