Monday, July 27, 2015

Trail Report: Trail Building Escapades

There is so much I could say about this past weekend.  There is so much I shouldn’t say about this past weekend…and I’ve resolved to remain reticent on those things.  Instead, I think it makes sense to focus on the positive and look on down the path to a promising future.
Saturday was the 11th annual Johnny and Alex Trail Day put on by the Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition (RRGCC).  The moniker refers to John Bronaugh—a driving force behind early sport climbing promotion and development in the Red River Gorge—and his son Alex.  A few years ago John died of a heart attack and Alex died from injuries sustained in a car accident soon after.  The RRG climbing community honors the efforts of both John and Alex in advocating for the Red River Gorge by inviting people to come out in the woods once a year and building trails.
I was invited to work on the extension to the Flat Hollow mountain bike trail after expressing interest earlier in the year.  Currently Flat Hollow (pronounced “holler”) is 0.75 miles long and with a small section of gravel road makes a 0.85 mile loop.  In the same area there is a forgotten loop in Sore Heel Hollow that’s about a mile in length.  And there is a 0.75 mile out and back connector trail that is easy and fun.  Prior to this past weekend there was 2.5 miles of mountain bike trails on Coalition land.
Like I mentioned in my last post the next phase of development is to complete an out and back segment off of Flat Hollow to the spectacular arch deep in the drainage.  When finished the spur will be half a mile long.  Building from that it will be possible to continue an intermediate level trail around the drainage for 3+ miles of trail.  Down in the bottoms there is ample space for a mile loop of easy trail that will connect to a planned greater loop around the Bald Rock drainage of which Flat Hollow is a tributary.
Saturday my crew worked on the Flat Hollow extension.  We only managed a couple hundred feet of new trail, but we improved a couple of sections, including an unconsolidated landslide from earlier in the summer.  That spot will be a problem for years, but thankfully it’s only a couple dozen feet long.
The major positives from the weekend was coming away with a stronger resolve and sense of community after working with about ten people who are also passionate about outdoors and mountain biking.  Almost everyone that helped is or has been a rock climber as well so we weren’t pulling from the mountain biking community as much as I thought we would have to.
So going forward we have momentum to begin pushing the trail system out further and further from the center.  We have support from the RRGCC board of directors, and we have a growing base of human power and passion.  That right there is a good mix.

New trail...
A switchback.  You build this when a climbing turn or insloped turn is not appropriate.

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