We all love Spring rains and the plethora of wildflowers that color our natural areas. However, too much water can cause problems on the trails. After a heavy rain, trail users have found themselves impeded by a large pond just below the dam in Lower Purgatory. The 2015 flood carried a mountain of rocks, gravel and boulders which has exacerbated the problem. (Ironically, this mountain of rock is where we obtained the material to build the approaches to the actual bridge.) When this segment of Dante is closed, users are unable to access the rest of the trails from the Hunter Road trailhead. Unfortunately, some trail users have created rogue trails to skirt the water and this creates other problems.
Enter Sherwood Bishop’s brainchild, Matilda. Matilda is a character in Dante’s Divine Comedy who leads Dante across the river, Eunoe. Our Matilda is a bridge that carries trail users, including service vehicles, across the pond. It is approximately 200 feet long, including the gravel approaches. It was built solely by volunteers of SMGA trail crew. This has involved hundreds of hard labor hours moving large boulders, shovels of gravel and long timbers. Heavy machinery was needed to carry loads of gravel and the largest boulders. Unfortunately, this has resulted in some injury to the area. SMGA will be working hard to do restoration when the job is complete.
This project would not have been possible without contributions of Leadership San Marcos, who raised and donated ($7,000)! LSM rocks! McCoy’s Building Supplies donated $1,500 worth of materials. McCoy’s rocks! And we also received $1,500 worth of road base.
The Matilda project is about 80% complete; we hope to finish soon but Mother Nature often has a say in it. We hope you enjoy Matilda and that she leads you across to many beautiful days of being with nature.