Trail Talk #2: Keep ‘em separated

Trail corridor cleared of slash and duff.

Trail corridor cleared of slash and duff.

Last week we had the CAL FIRE conservation camp crews out for three days to clear the trail corridor on two segments of the flow trail. Segment 5, where we will begin construction, has been cleared of debris and raked down to mineral soil. Removing all of the slash and debris from our corridor leaves us with a blank canvas to work with. We can see the exact contour of the ground, we are no longer guessing where terra firma actually lies beneath all of the logging debris and thick redwood and tanoak duff. Many trailbuilders skip this step of scraping away all of the organic material down to the pure mineral soil, and flag out their trails and dig away through the duff. This saves them time (and time=money), which is a major concern for a trail contractor who may have x number of projects lined up. As our focus lies in quality rather than quantity of production, we are taking pains to bring the good people who ride Demo an A+ #1 product, which means taking the time to do the trail layout the best that we can.

Lots of people have a credo which they live by, Muslims have Allahu Akbar, moral folks have do unto others,  drinkers have liquor before beer, the fashion conscious have no plaid with stripes, Marines have Semper Fi, the British God Save the Queen,  ya know. Well we have, keep your minerals and your organics separate. All day, every day, till the day, that we die. By clearing away all the organic matter from our trail corridor, not only are we getting the best possible view of the terrain, but we are also ensuring that none of that duff ends up in our tread. Why is this a concern? Because, organic material breaks down over time and shrinks. If our trail has a bunch of organics in it, we will end up with an uneven and compromised trail surface as these materials decompose. It will develop potholes, our berms will be lumpy, our jumps will crumble away, into mere memories of airtime… So we are going to keep our dirt super clean, to build trail features that will stand the test of time and hold up against the onslaught of pinned riders we are expecting to ride this trail. We are doubly concerned with the quality of our dirt because we will be trying to minimize sidecast (soil discarded to the downhill of the trail tread during construction), utilizing the dirt excavated from our bench cut to build rollers, jumps, landings and berms wherever possible.

Cleared trail corridor. Notice the amount of duff in the foreground compared to the trail itself. The berm of organic material cleared from the trail (seen to the right of the large tree) will be used to cover up all signs of disturbance once construction is complete.

Cleared trail corridor. Notice the duff amount of duff in the foreground compared to the trail itself. The berm of organic material cleared from the trail (seen to the right of the large tree) will be used to cover up all signs of disturbance once construction is complete.

Once construction is complete, we will pull the duff and debris back in close to the trail, giving it that natty, been there for years look, sticking with our aesthetic of building a trail that integrates into the landscape rather than being imposed upon it.

Stay tuned for groundbreaking news. Pun intended. Fully.

Trail Talk is a blog written by MBoSC Trail Builder Matt De Young chronicling the construction of the Flow Trail at Demo. Next: Trail Talk #3, Gettin Real

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