By Ted May
The long-awaited bridge across Pikes Creek is now in place, making our new trail accessible. The trail takes us from the Les Voigt State Fish Hatchery up to the Jolly Long Trail (part of Ashwabay cross-country ski trails) – with a connector soon linking directly to the Ashwabay/Big Top Chautauqua parking lot. The 1.3-mile-long trail starts off through the lush bottomlands along Pikes Creek, then we cross the new 54-foot bridge, and continue through fern-lined trails across a short footbridge and 150-feet of boardwalk and box stops. The trail then gradually climbs up the side of a ridge above a small tributary to Pikes Creek. At the top of this ridge, a right-hand turn takes you to an overlook; or turn left and head through the woods toward the Jolly Long Trail. The entire way is lined with beautiful wildflowers and towering trees, birds, quiet and peace; a delight to have in our trail system!
Some additional work is planned to fully secure the bridge and its footings for the long term. And, we have a bit of rehabilitation to do along the path on the hatchery-side of the trail: hoping to get this work done by November.
After an excellent foot-bridge was built by Mike Kinnee, our next major project was the construction of the boardwalk across the floodplain and seep area, plus the box steps between them.
John Ipsen and Kris Wegerson chain-sawed the 12-foot 8x8s and 6x6s into 4-foot or 3-foot sections for different parts of the project. Gene Lemmenes provided the main work cutting and pounding in the supports for the boardwalk over the floodplain; then we put in the initial box steps leading up the adjoining hill. We used some of the box-steps pre-assembled by Mark Filonowich and Colleen Trumper, while others were re-designed to fit the specific needs of the rising and curving slope.
It was one long “figure-it-out” effort, as we moved uphill to maneuver around tree roots and sloping lands. Quite the fun project, some design work by Steve Vircsik and Jeff Nelson, with others also pounding rebar along the way. The upper deck tops were designed and installed by Rich Ryan. During the box step construction, crew members also grubbed out young aspens that had sprouted in the tread of the upper trail sections due to lack of use over the summer. Sean Reagan mowed the trail across the top of the plateau.
It is fun to see the collective wisdom (well, we are hoping they work well) and final outcome of these adjusted steps.
The last stage of the box steps and 60-foot boardwalk over an extended seepage area (you will note this is always wet!) was a project that involved Gene, Jeff Nelson, Tina Martin, Kathleen Russell, Doreen Conrad, Cyndi Taylor, Neil Howk, Rich and Janel Ryan, Kate Kitchell and Mike Eldred. Gene’s angled cutting was wonderful to have for smooth corners along the way. Rich Metcalfe was especially helpful with pounding rebar and screwing in deck-boards.
I may have missed others who helped along the way, but I know every one of them was exceptionally fun, and I enjoyed working with each of them. Thanks, thanks and more thanks to all the hard-working Bayfield Area Trails volunteers and the many donors who made the bridge and project possible. Now it’s time to enjoy this glorious new trail through some exceptionally beautiful woods.
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