The Trails Across Texas crew just finished our second hitch at Government Canyon State Natural Area, where we’ve been working on two trail projects. Some crew members finished building two armored rock drains on the Lydell’s Loop trail that they started on our last hitch, and the rest of us continued working on a brand new ADA accessible trail that will be open to the public next month. This is not a typical trail building project because in order to be accessible to people of all abilities, it must be wide, relatively flat, and have a smooth compacted surface. To meet those requirements, we built the trail surface out of decomposed granite mixed with a binding agent. Even though we had to bring in materials to build the trail, we were able to use granite sourced from the Texas hill country and a natural binding agent made from a seed husk. Getting all the granite to where it’s needed on the trail meant carrying it in Bobcat skidsteers, but once it was there we spread and shaped it using good old fashioned hand tools. The final steps were hosing down the entire trail and rolling it with a compactor. At the end of the week all of the decomposed granite had been laid, shaped, and wet, and half of it had been rolled and was completely finished. The park staff will finish the project up, but it felt good to have it almost done when we left. Our crew leader Ian spend a lot of last season working on this trail, so he was especially excited to start seeing the finished product.
In between all the work, we had time for some fun. Ian’s birthday was in the middle of the hitch, so to celebrate we got his favorite flavor of ice cream (birthday cake) to have after dinner. Some of the other crew leaders drove all the way out from Austin to celebrate with us. Then, on the last night we were staying in Government Canyon, we had a backpacking adventure. We got permission from the park staff to hike into the backcountry area of the park and spend the night there. It was a lot of fun to see more of the park’s trails and sleep under the stars. The next morning we hiked back to our usual campsite, put some finishing touches on the trail, and headed back to Austin. It was a little sad to leave Government Canyon where we’ve been working for 20 days, but we’re all glad to have done a good job and excited for our next adventure.
Brigid Mulroe – Trails Across Texas Crew Member