Back to the location of our last hitch, Moon Meadows. Home to elk, coyotes, and Umatilla team uno. Over the course of this hitch we worked on a short section of trail with a big problem: Water. Mix water with a well used, but little cared for, trail and you get mud. This section of trail had lots of it. The kind of mud that takes your shoes off if you’re not careful. The first day consisted of re-routing water from a trail-side spring to go directly across the trail. Originally, the stream flowed on the trail for a good fifty feet before spilling into a small marsh. A day of digging out a new channel, about ten feet in length, through rock and mud, got the water flowing in a better direction.
Over the next few days we reinforced our channel with large rocks averaging around one-hundred pounds each. The reason for this is to make a sturdy bank on each side of the channel. Horseback riders with pack animals use this trail more often that people on foot, so every part of our stream channel has to be able to withstand the impact from these large, heavy animals.
While part of the team worked on the stream channel, others worked on nearby parts of trail where destruction from water and heavy use was evident. Ruts up to my knees had developed from years of neglect. As soon as the water resided from the trail and the mud dried into a putty-like consistency, members from our team were in there working. We decided to re-route the trail in one area and create new tread in another. We also added a turnpike and a few reinforced water bars to keep future ruts from developing.
The re-route required several large logs to be sawed out using the crosscut. Some of the logs were so rotted that we had to use a Pulaski to chop through them. A couple of the severely rotten logs we tore apart using Pick-Mattocks. Over the course of a couple of days the 150 yard re-route was complete and the old rutted trail was rehabilitated.
On a shorter section of the trail it was decided that new tread should be placed next to the old rutted trail. An easy solution to a bad section of trail. We also used the crosscut saw to remove several large logs beside this section of trail that were keeping water on the trail instead of draining off.
As a preventative measure, we created a modified turnpike to cover about twenty feet of soggy tread. It wasn’t a mud hole yet, but could easily become that way after a year of rain and use. The twenty feet of tread wound up looking like a cobblestone path due to the skillful placement of fist-sized rock.
Overall, the Umatilla 1 team knocked-out some mighty fine trail. On the last day of the hitch our Forest Service partners came out to have a look and they were very impressed. What a great hitch!