This, another exciting week in the adventures of the Daniel Boone 5, was all about constructing check steps! Check steps serve to retain tread and slow the ﬂow of water to prevent erosion on steep sections of the trail. We built a total of 12 check steps this week with the help of two other trail crews: the new Forest Service seasonal trail crew and the SCA trail crew from Cave Run Lake (a.k.a. Team Narwhal!)
The ﬁrst part of the week was spent preparing to install aforementioned check steps; we ﬁrst cut down, or felled, several trees and debarked them with the always handy draw knife. We then dug sizeable trenches and lined them with pulverized rocks, or crush, to help with drainage and stability. Finally, we placed the timber check steps into the trenches, drove wooden stakes in front of them for added support, and buried them before grading the tread for increased walk-ability. We encountered a somewhat scary surpise as we were placing the ﬁnal check step: a giant wolf spider toting a big green egg sack (check out the pic below!)
During the second half of the week, we prepared for one of the last projects on the Bison Way trail. Another steep section of trail that requires some tender loving care contains old (and now rotting) water bars and check steps. We spent time removing these decrepit structures before giving them back to the forest. Time was also spent cutting out roots in this section of the trail to help strengthen the tread and make room for the new and improved structures.
And now for Siddiq Toure’s new column - Tales from the Archside
This week establishes the ﬁrst of four for which I’ve been reduced to light duties. No longer ﬁt to lift the heavy stones and debark the massive timber segments used on almost every step of the Bison Way in construction thus far, I now sit secluded in the basement of the Gladie Cultural – Environmental learning Center. Equiped with a small basin, tooth brush, and medium size strainer, the top notch in sophisticated gadgets used in the highest level of professional archaeologists; I brush away.
Scrutinizing every centimeter of the tiny fragments of ﬂint stone, not the only, but certainly the majority of debris collected over the past 20+ years of a long past civilization; I’m able to see a direction correlation in the precise lacerations. My only comforts: imagination, deep seeded cynicism, super random Spotify playlist of new hits and oldies. My only companions, the empty turtle shell that sits under its thick blanket of dust accumulated over x-amount of years, and Matt; the new archaeologist that just so happened to start the same day I was unloaded upon him. Yes this all sounds doom and gloom, but if you could see the defaulting look of despair that calls my eyes home, then you might assume I’m deeply excited or in the least amused by at the opportunity ahead of me. To play a small and signiﬁcant part, if I do say so myself, in uncovering/discovering history. That’s the most intriguing part, so I’ve been assured, about archaeology; ﬁnd a sweet juicy tale to tell yourself and possibly everyone else about the scraps of stone and bone long left behind from past civilizations.
My interest is to absorb all applicable information as a sponge would water; I can say this week has not been framed in useless knowledge, never to be called up from the recesses of my memory bank again. For instance, I’ve learned from my brief apprenticeship to the new archaeologist, Matt, when casually conversing about my own possible attempts at carving ﬂint arrow heads, that like ballistics testing, there are always tell tail sign when a stone is not just a stone. When a stone has been craftily constructed to be a tool or weapon, the point at which it was originally struck, ﬂaking of from the mass, makes a noticeable mound. This half bulb surrounded by circles; as ripples do in water, is dubbed the point of percussion. Knowing this, among the few other tricks of observation, allows me to see the layout of stony landscapes in a new light. Now walking along on my many escapades through the trails of Koomer to the Arch of the west, Ill imagine grand story to further entertain myself and companions on our way.
This weekend we plan on a canoeing adventure with Team Narwhal as well some fantastic hikes near the ever-so-“Gorge”-ous Red River. As always, be sure to tune in again next week!