Thursday, November 01, 2018

That's What Fat Bikes Are For

While the creek has gone back into its banks, the damage has been done.
I decided to do something different than the usual gravel grind Wednesday. I had heard from my co-worker, Joe, that George Wyth State park was a mess and that he was glad he had ridden his fat bike. It was sandy, he had to bushwhack, and there was some greasy muddy areas.

I took that information in and when I decided to go see how the Green Belt had fared through the floods, I decided to grab my Blackborow DS fat bike.

It was a nice enough day, and since the Blackborow has flats, I wore my usual tennis shoes. I headed over to the Green Belt and after diving in I was immediately met with copious amounts of sand and a downed log or tree about every 100 yards. It became obvious that this was going to be more "adventure" and less "bicycle ride" as I got further into the trails. I tried stopping to move a couple of the downed logs, but they were too heavy for one man. So, I ended up either making a way around them or dismounting to haul myself and my fat bike over them.

My goal was to get to Marky-Mark and to assess what, if any, work needed to be done. I was hoping that the floods had little effect on the trail. Typically it rides most floods out really well. Even the record flood of '08 didn't phase Marky-Mark. However; by the amount of change I was seeing already into my short trip into the Green Belt, I had to wonder how much damage there really was back there. Certainly downed trees were a real possibility. There would be no way for me to really do anything, but at least I could see what was needed and make a plan. That was the goal for the ride.

Holy cow! This area is now COMPLETELY different than before the floods!
Not far into the trail from the Ansborough dog park, there is a point where the trail comes out at the corner of the dike and crosses a wet area at a channel which is a drain for a low water area just to the Northeast of the lake back there. In the image above, if you are familiar with this area, this is what it looks like now. There has been some grading of the lower parts of the dike and the outlet has eroded any semblance of what was there down the river. This was bound to happen ever since the trees and vegetation that used to be here had been getting taken out. Now there is nothing impeding the water flow from the lower lying areas East of the creek and South of this point from eroding a deeper channel than what is already started here.

This is the view looking the other way.

I figure it will take a few years for weeds to take this back over again, but in the meantime, water flow should really do a number back here, unless there is another layer to this activity yet to be accomplished.

Anyway, this whole deal forced me to find another way to get further into the Green Belt. That meant I needed to bushwhack my way, essentially further up and to the right in the image above, to get to the lake, and then hopefully over back onto the Green Belt trail proper. It was a nasty business, passing through needle sharp thorny plants, thickets, and muddy grounds. Eventually I made it through to the lake trail.

This is where I popped out at the lake.

The lake trail was flooded yet as well.
Copious amounts of sand can be found all over the Green Belt.
Once I found my way back to the Green Belt trails, I made better time, but there were still big knots of drifted wood, sand, and the occasional tree or washed out trail to navigate. All of this slowed me down to the point that I was figuring I just may not even get back to Marky-Mark at all this time out.

So, I decided to stop and clear trail where I could lift the wood, or at least swing it off the tread of the trail enough to pass through. I figured I could at least do my part to leave things better than I found them. It wasn't much, because most of the work is of the "heavy lifting" sort, or is best suited to a chain saw.

Once I got back to the "usual" suspects where water typically sits, I had my answer. I was done going forward for this day. Now had I dressed in more appropriate clothing, and worn my hiking boots instead of cotton shoes, I might have given it a try, but the "stepping stones" to cross were partially under water, and well.........nope! 

So, back I went the way that I came. It was great to get out into the Green Belt, but as I feared, it needs a lot of work and it already is November. The thing is, "if" anything gets done before the snow flies, we won't have a lot of time before the snow flies. Or something........ Anyway. Yeah..... Winter is coming, Fall woods riding is about done, and we got rooked out of the most of it by these dang floods and rain. Oh well.........

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