And It's OUT-o-HERE!

Sunday, 15-Jun 2014 @ 6:51pm

Out with the old and in with the new is a concept you grow wary of over time.  However, sometimes good comes of it.  This weekend we completed a task started April 20th.  In less than 2 months we have dug a new combined start to the Casuarina Loop and Three Hills Singletrack (albeit with a temporary entrance to Three Hills until we complete the re-route for it over the next 6 months or so).  

It is a job we feel really proud of.  In the interests of both riders and the park environment, this new trailhead should be a winner.  Now we can ride away from suburbia into lovely bushland on a gentle, contour trail and return from the bush with the sun on our backs on fun trail not ravaged by Centre Fire Road and natural runoff.  

We hope everyone likes it as much as we do.  Our next task is the re-route of lower Three Hills to Exit Trail.  We can sort any basic Casuarina maintenance issues on our way there and back.

Before we get into pics of the trail itself, we have been working toward dual objectives over the last couple of weeks.  One has been storing excavated soil where the existing Three Hills Singletrack and Casuarina trails need it for future closure.  Another has been closing sections immediately where possible.  4 sections of existing trail (not including closing a walking path made by the homeless peole) were closed as part of this project, for safety and revegetation.  A previous Trail News featured the closure of one eroded loop.  Following are three other closures.

Here the original line of the combined Casuarina and Three Hills trails was sited where all the fire road runoff assaults it, plus it was built directly down the falline, without drainage.  The result, despite years of work and multiple attempts at maintenance, has been bad trail with trail braiding.  This bit was an opportunistic closure using logs, rocks and spoil from the trail below

Another target was this new shortcut to the fire road.  To avoid a convoluted and messy ride, first away from the trailhead and then back towards it, only 50m from home, riders had cut yet another shortcut to Centre Fire Road.  Piles of soil to be used closing the current line in this very eroded corner serve as a shortcut closure.  As you can see, the old shortcut line has also been rehabilitated

There's a time to close and a time to open and here Douglas is shaving a gentle sheet drain.  Shortly after this pic taken Saturday evening, he decided he couldn't see the contour well enough to continue.  Nor could I, but I didn't have the drive back to Lennox.  This trail would be many weeks later coming without Doug

Ashley was hording all weekend, as usual.  He was stockpiling booty all over the place.  Soil, organic matter, wood, etc was all being delivered where we would need it in the end and the end was near.  However he also wanted to make a change to Three Hills Singletrack well above the new trail.  The following pics show a new drain he dug and the way water follows a path from the fire road onto the trail above the drain.  All that water; and there is enough to create a raging torrent  at times, all that water follows Three Hills Singletrack down to the intersection with Casuarina and then toward the new trail.  Ashley's new drain should take pressure off the new trail until we properly close Three Hills and replace it with new trail in the next 6 months or so

He used some of the extra dirt to improve riding lines near the end of Three Hills Singletrack.  Like so many times before, it will probably be ridden and rained off, but until then riders are safer and can enjoy the trail more.  It was extra dirt, not required for the task at hand.  It's the more yellow stuff in the next pic

I'm going to present the closure of Casuarina Loop from the velodrome trailhead to the new Casuarina Loop start before we look at the trail itself.  Clearly the timeline is wrong, because without the excavated soil and organic matter, we could not have completed the closure.

Closing established trail is arduous.  In this place we enhanced drains at the intersection first.  After gathering closure materials, including logs where needed, the old trail surface has to be softened.  That means chipping with a pick, mattock or similar.  We forgot the pick and used mattocks.  Some sections were brutal on hands, wrists and arms.  The hardest blow delivered using only the corner of the blade would remove barely a 5cm chip and propel a similar amount of tiny missiles into your nose, mouth and ears.  Safety glasses essential

In places where you want water to sheet slowly across the ground, you can chip soil and organic matter, grasses and roots from above or below the trail and add that to the surface, creating a level surface as well as a better chance for early regrowth

In other places you want water to pool on the old trail where it is really dry or sandy, so the edge of cupped trail can be left.  In all places a healthy layer of organic matter slows water flow and encourages revegetation.  

The next pic shows where the new work passes the loop we previously closed this way

The section parallel to the trail below is designed to catch and hold water.  Here and in other places we had to retain or change shortcut barriers to protect the revegetation process.  They can be lowered in the future

Toward the old start point, we added lots of stockpiled soil, some log barriers, an earthen water bar and a visual closure.  The eroded area on the flat was dug away and added back onto the trail closure above a log barrier

Of course, to close a section of trail, there has to be an alternative.  Here's how the new start to Casuarina Loop and Three Hills Singletrack looks.  Until we complete the re-route of Three Hills, the access point will be about 50m from the start.  Later it will be from the "end" of this new section of Casuarina Loop, about 200m farther along.

The start of the trail is deliberately wide to allow riders a place to gather that is not on the fire road.  Riders commented on the width of the entire trail section, but the trail itself is generally only a metre wide more than 10m from the fire road.  The drains, however are wide in this most critical location next to Centre Fire Road.  The impact of fire road drainage onto the existing Casuarina and Three Hills trails has been destructive and irrepairable.  Therefore trail drainage has to be extensive, located as the land dictates and shallow, rather than deep to avoid rapid water movement.  While they look obvious now, over time they will blend into the surrounding vegetation, buut remain as patent drains.

The trail rides well and we observed a group of 4 kids and a mixed family group of 6 riders pass without any problem and without anyone riding off the trail.  That's great in this high use location.  So this is how it looked on Sunday morning

and how it looks now from the start to the closure site - inviting we think.  Photos of the rest of this trail re-route can be found in previous Trail News reports

Let's end with a couple of mood pics.  One from either end of the work completed this weekend.  Hope you enjoy the new Casuarina trail line


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