Thursday, February 1, 2018

Building Bridges (literally and figuratively!)

At Elderberry, we have access to over 140 acres of great hiking trails, mostly on Potluck Farm Property (the community adjacent to Elderberry), and there are a couple of beautiful streams that run through these woods. We have two bridges crossing these streams (and a few places where we can cross on rocks, with ropes to hold on to, when the water is low).  One of our bridges is a hanging bridge that we finished a couple years ago.  The other is a wooden footbridge that we made about 12 years ago.  The latter bridge was the victim of a weird windy afternoon about a week ago that took down several trees in the area.  The bridge was next to a huge beech tree that fell, and the tree fell right across the bridge and broke it in two.  Sad!!!  But today, a team of folks from Elderberry and Potluck Farm went out to try to rescue the bridge.  We cleared away much of the beech tree (the top part only, because the bottom main trunk is huge).  And we were able to pull the two halves of the bridge out from under the trunk, and put the broken ends up on the fallen beech until we figure out what to do next.  So the creek can be crossed - if one is careful and brave!

The beech tree (3 trunks!) across the bridge.  The little green dot on the tree was our trail marker to show that this was the Perimeter Trail!

Mary, Richard, Karolyn, Cynthia, Marj and Cathy (photographer) assessing the damage. 
Mary taking a break with Rosie and Riley

Dave and Richard hauling one of the large branches out of the stream

The team working on the tree - Mary and Richard were chain sawing and everyone else was trying to get the branches and logs moved out into the woods.

It was a beautiful day to work - our woods are lovely in the winter with the green from holly, moss and ground cedar; and the soft brown from the beech leaves that cling to their trees for the winter.

Richard freed up all but the largest trunk of the tree and it looked like the bridge could be salvaged

Richard finishing up the logs that we were able to cut.  Cynthia looking on - she used her 4-wheeler to get all of our equipment down to the stream.

Richard suggested that we might be able to rebuild the bridge over the remaining trunk.  We are not sure that will work long-term but we decided to try to free the bridge and set the broken ends up on the trunk for now. 
 Mary and Dave got their end up on the log (Mary could not find the waders so just plowed into the water when needed - cold feet!)

The team freed up the other end of the bridge, pulled it out from under the trunk, and lifted the broken end onto the trunk at mid-stream

And there we have it!  A broken, but sort-of usable bridge for the brave.  We're now thinking about how to fix it permanently.  That might take a while!