|Maggie uses the inclinometer.
More than a dozen trainees learned new trail building techniques from Susan Stormer and Ryan Spates owners of S&S Trail Services. The couple are members of the Professional Trail Builders Association, former IMBA trail crew trainers and have years of trail building experience.
Half of the trainees were local Greenbelt Alliance crew members and the balance were two city employees, Gabe and Bobby; two from Sequin; Nancy and John; Adrian from New Braunfels, and two from San Marcos High School, Adam and Stephen.
|Class moves outside to work on the trail.
Trail runners are the fastest growing group of trail users and we learned how to accommodate different users on the same trails. Also important was identifying whether the users were using the trails for transportation (getting from point A to point B), for exercise (runners and mountain bikers) or simply for the enjoyment of nature. Each group had different expectations and challenges. We also learned there are two different types of mountain bikers. Those that like the technical challenges of a rough and rocky trail versus those that wanted a smooth, long ride that put distance as the priority.
While the first day was mostly classroom, learning theory, user expectations and useful signage; the second day was all application. We met at the Roadrunner trail off N. LBJ and the Spring Lake Natural Area.
S & S recently completed a crushed limestone trail to an overlook that provides a stunning viewshed over Lime Kiln Road. The continuation of the trail was problematic because it was a hard right hairpin turn, difficult for mountain bikers but also prone to erosion in the recent rains.
We were taught to use an inclinometer (both analog and digital) to design a better path. The half-rule that the trail is less than half the grade or side-slope was put into practice. Part of the crew worked on designing the better path and the others went to work on removing vegetation and rocks that would become the new Roadrunner trail.
The crew made “knicks” in the trail that will encourage water run-off when the run is long and prone to water flowing down the trail. Bench cuts were made to hold the trail in place along the hillside and allow the water to flow easily off the trail. Some of the techniques were new and others were improved — all aimed at moving the rain off the trail and into the ground.
|At the end of two days — success! 300′ of new, improved trail in the Spring Lake Natural Area. (Photo at the viewshed)
There’s still a little work to be done on Roadrunner but it’s open for use. The former section of 300′ of trail was planted and should not be used. Working on a Sunday was a new experience and we were able to see all the trail users come out on a sunny, fall day and enjoy being outside. -LJ