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Friday, October 22, 2010

Rhodo-Row is No More

... at least not to such a degree.

The Dragon Trail is my local network of trails which I have been developing for the past 2-3 years.  By local I mean, at my house.  To this point there are about 6 miles of runnable trail and another 1.5 of getting to be runnable paths with plans for an additional 2 miles yet to be started.

Overgrown Rhododendron
Last evening I set out with a handsaw and a tube of chap stick, to work on a 3/4 mile section of trail which leads down to the Watauga River.  While many folks love rhododendron, and actually purchase it for aesthetic purposes, those of us in this part of the country who runs trails, or build/ maintain them... might have some other things to say about them. They grow fast, they have a lot of roots to trip you up and, if you burn them, they can kill you.  But- they do look nice, and the deer seem to like them as well.

The first task was to cut away brambles and knock down dried out wild flower stalks for about 300m.  After my skin was ripped to shreds from blackberry bushes earlier in the maintenance phase, I was happy to get to the wooded area of trail to begin to make my own rhodo-tunnel.  This wood is soft and pliable and dries out easily as well.  All of this makes it very easy to remove, one piece at a time.  The trick to to trace the many tiny branches back to the point where one or two cuts will yield a trail.

With patience and perseverance, this process can be rewarding!!  Sound familiar?

Not only does this time cutting open trail yield better running, it also serves as a training of its own.  This cross training teaches the mind the endurance aspect of dedication and the also gives one hell of an upper body and core work out.  After cutting the limbs away, you then get to drag them off-trail and throw them into the forest beyond!!!  I guess I find this satisfying in some Tarzan kind of way.

Watauga River
After about 2 hours in the woods I reached my goal junction I had wanted to clear (I had planned on one hour) for the night. By this time, the sun was very low and the river was going into night mode.  Owls were calling in the distance and the deer were out doing their nightly thing (whatever that is).

Knowing Lynnea was getting worried by this point, I headed back up the hill... now able to run free along the newly refurbished section of trail!  No ducking and bending through extremely tight spots, just upright and efficient strides without the fear of taking a stick to the eye or a limb to the head.  Does make me marvel at the ability of deer to run through the non-existent holes.  I hope they enjoy the open space and will continue their constant use        (aka maintenance) of The Dragon Trail.

Each hour spent out doing this sort of work, yields more possibilities from the front door, and for years to come!  I guess the ultimate goal is to have about 10 miles of trail where I can get lost with dogs and kids for a long day along the river.  In this way, I can instill some of the appreciation I have for the outdoors and maybe teach some lessons about life while being just a few minutes from a nice soft bed!

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea if you burned them they could kill. Interesting!


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