We started this week off by beginning work on the timber staircase which we felled a tree for last week. These timber steps were needed to alleviate a drainage problem on the trail which had exposed numerous roots. We used a large oak tree cut into 6 to 8 foot sections which we debarked, planed, and set into the hillside. Wooden stakes were used to anchor five steps in place rather than using metal rebar, in order to create a more natural looking trail.
On Tuesday, we took a break from working on the trail and helped in a river cleanup on the Red River. We canoed several miles down the river, picking up garbage along the way. Often times, tires are disposed of in the river and trash washes down from the roadways, so we spent the day locating and removing this undesirable waste (and having some fun splashing around in the water and mud!)
At the end of the week, we dug a trench and reworked the tread on a section of trail that had become a muddy mess because of water pooling in a low spot. We also spent time taking out old steps which have become extremely degraded over the years. Next week we plan to rehabilitate this section of the trail by building new steps and drainage structures.
In order to promote leadership development, each day we alternate the responsibility of leading the group. The group leader a.k.a. Hitch Mage assigns the other positions including Safety Dragon, Tool Goblin, and Data Genie to the remaining group members. Next week, we will transition to taking on the roles for week long periods.
Quality of life at our campsite is improving day by day: we got new friendly campground hosts, built a sturdy (and much improved) tarp fortress to cover our common area, and made friends with several wily campground turtles. Life in the Gorge is beautiful! See you next week!