Friday, November 7, 2014

Stuff's Happenin'

In the past several months a lot of good has happened on the trails at Raystown Lake- Aside from regular trail work being completed such as trimming, blowing, lopping, drain cleaning and the like....all this happened too.

Fawn Trail Deck Project
Photo Credit: Rob Sharer

Location: Approximately 3/4 down Fawn Trail just prior to the wooden bridge was a very long wet spot.
Issue: The large wet spot was armored with rock prior to the opening of the trail with IMBA guidance. Unfortunately, because the section of trail was built over several seeps in the hillside the spot was always problematic.

Resolution: It was decided last year that the best means to resolve this ongoing issue would be to build an elevated deck over the trail. So Project lead Ellis D was able to get the ball rolling and ultimately completed just before the leaves began to fall-


Eagle Trail Reroute
Photo Credit: Rob Sharer

Location: Just off of Susquehannock Road headed towards Hydro Loop was a very long stretch of trail area that had become progressively more gouged out and rutted.  original layout.
Issue: Prior to Dirt Fest this year plans had been laid to reroute this section high up on the hillside. Eliminating some of drainage issue associated with it's location. After the four inches of rain fell during the days prior to Dirt Fest, and some thousand plus passes across the trail during the weekend of the event. It became evident that this project couldn't be put off any longer.
Resolution: The original trail corridor was abandoned and a new trail constructed much higher on the ridge in a much dryer spot. The section adds some climbing to the end of the trail but eliminated the abrupt grade reversal that seemed to be problematic. No longer will riders have to search for the trail or become covered in mud trying to ride it.


Terrace Mountain Trail Efforts

Location: On the opposite ridge of Raystown Lake lies a trail that will span from just outside of Huntingdon all the way down past Trough Creek State Park to Saxton.
Issue: Terrace Mountain Trail was never truly finished. It has always been permissible to ride or hike but finding the trail was holding folks back. Additionally with so many downed tree across the trail it was nearly impassable in sections where blazes could be seen.
Resolution: In mid 2011 when the trail risked permanent closure myself and Ranger Gwinn went over and looked at sections in need of improvement. After outlining a plan of attack Gwinn was able to secure funding to hire a contractor to do some tread work that would greatly save volunteer time. During the summer of 2014 contract work was completed on numerous isolated sections of trail. With the machine work largely done the finish work is now underway. Re-blazing the trail is underway with a few end of the year work crews headed out in the coming weeks. With a little luck Spring of 2015 will be the formal re-opening.


Seven Points Skills Area

Location: Across Seven Points Road from the Visitors Center is a 3.4 acres field that has been approved for use by the Army Corps of Engineers for the purposes of constructing a mountain bicycle skills area.
Issue: Allegrippis is great but wouldn't it be even better if we had a skills area? Before we start putting features out on the trails we need riders to know how to ride them.
Resolution: In a partnership effort with the ACoE the Raystown Mountain Bicycling Association and Friends of Raystown Lake have begun the process of securing funding to develop the park. Planning and design work for the park is already underway. Dirt won't start moving until late 2015 in hopes of having the park open for the 2016 season!

We are stoked and hope you are too.

Helena and I getting ready to trim the southside (Photo: Bearica Quinn)

Monday, February 10, 2014

twICE as nICE

Twice as nICE-

The lake level at Raystown has been dropped 8.5ft below the regular level to allow for shoreline maintenance and rehabilitation, extending the shoreline up to 60ft into what is usually water. Meanwhile, the air temperature has dipped below zero numerous times with a near-constant freeze since the new year. These cool temps have caused large sections of the lake to freeze over, while the low level has opened up miles of rolling, rocky coastline. 

Click for Bigger 

The lake ice and rocky exposed coastlines are reminiscent of the frozen ice sheets of Greenland's fjords and the harsh red sandstone of Prince Edward Island. These places are not only magnificent for the features of the landscape but for the remote vibe that comes during the off-season. For it is rare to see another soul enjoying the lake this time of year. 

But why write about the lake ice and wonderfully-rocky coastlines in a section usually written about the Allegrippis Trails and mountain bicycling?  

The same main channel that serves as a speed-limitless raceway during July 4th weekend and those same rowdy coves that are home to the thirty pontoon late-summer parties are completely desolate. This wonderful desolation is one that draws a unique few to lake. In our case, a unique crew of fat-tired bicyclists. The coastlines have provided a formidable opponent, causing quite the frenzy to ride the first "section," or find a new "sweet line." Meanwhile, the 5-8-inch-thick ice has provided a wonderfully-challenging opportunity to think outside the box. 

For those of you who know the lake, consider bicycle rides such as Seven Points to Snyders Run, or perhaps Hesston to Trough Creek by way of Marklesburg and the old rail line. 

Riding on ice is inherently dangerous and potentially life threatening, however like anything in life if you are prepared it can be a truly exhilarating experience. The bottom line is- If you are not prepared to swim you should not be on the ice. 

Weird Ice

Things to keep in mind-
-Whenever riding on ice wear a coast guard approved life jacket-
-Make sure the ice is atleast three inches thick
-Bring Self Rescue Ice Awls no how to use them before you need them
-If you do break through stay calm-
-New ice is usually stronger than old ice. 
-Ice seldom freezes uniformly.
-There is no such thing as 100% safe ice.