Ah, the Fall.  It’s by far my favourite season of the year.  The mushrooms are popping up everywhere, the mornings are crisp, and the trails are quieter.  Most of the crew is adventuring at the moment, and have either finished their contracts or are about to.  Nicole is in Utah visiting the massive rampage sites. Ben is travelling and working on adventure stories, and Sam Bowerman is back in Calgary at school. 

I have hired Emmett Hancock for the end of the season.  He is helping me deal with the many blown-down trees, tackling the many bridges that are in need of replacement, and tackling various trail issues.

Re-building bridges is a job that takes a fair amount of time.  Many of our bridges are getting old (10-15 years old) which is typically when they begin to fail.  I would say that half the bridges we replaced were built very well, and half of the bridges weren’t built very well.   

Christina Chapetta did a short video of a day in the life of a trail builder (A Day In The Life Of A Trail Builder).  The video shows us replacing a well-built bridge on Angry M that simply got old.  It also shows a couple of steps to build a bridge.  If planning on re-building a bridge, before you start please feel free to ask me for advice.  I would also recommend that if you use social media, to follow established builders such as Dan Raymond, Ted Tempany and Andrew James. 

A couple of things I know from experience:

  • If you can build it out of dirt and/or rock take that as the preferred option (instead of using woodwork).
  • Cedar: Use it (and do not use other wood). 
  • Slats: Grain vertical (not horizontal) and use thick boards, with 1 finger spacing between boards.  I use an axe head to measure before splitting to make sure each slat is the same width.  Also do not use the exterior of the tree (i.e. bark sides). 
  • Nails: We use 6-inch spiral galvanized nails for nailing slats, and 8 inch spiral for framing.  
  • Wire mesh (chicken wire).  We do not use it.  The thin stuff fails quite quickly. 
  • Alaskan mill wood: It can be extremely slippery.  We use it for stringers and braces.  We do not use it for decking.  
  • Bridges with corners onto them or in them: Try to avoid doing that. Many bike riders will tell you it’s where unexpected crashes occur. 
  • Armouring: Always armour the lead-in and exit of a bridge (avoids the mud pits that occur before and after bridges). 
  • Bracing: Try to be a carpenter and have bridges braced and supported.

There are a number of other details – but that is a good start. 

Trails we have worked on during the transition to fall:

  • Boney Elbows: armouring and drainage
  • Trail day on Rupert
  • Dirks Diggler: drainage
  • Brackentrail: Rerouted the reroute and planted ferns
  • Climb Trail: bridges
  • Pseudo-tsuga: drainage and repairing berms
  • Rollercoaster: berms
  • Leave of Absence: rock armouring 
  • Many, many blown down trees were removed throughout the network
  • Covenant:  bridge removal