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Monday, November 14, 2011

Rain and Mud but the Show Goes On

We have just had our November Dig Day and whilst we still got on and did a lot of good work overall for me it was a bit frustrating, the weather didn't play ball at all. However because it was a long weekend, we kind of made up for it on Friday.

It started out well, working on clearing a slip on the gum road, then down to the next gum road where I promptly got the digger well stuck in the mud. Thankfully after many attempts and many hours of swearing Allan and I pulled it out with the truck in the wee small hours of the night. The Digger was caked in mud!

On Thursday night or rather early Friday morning it rained quite heavily, not quite sure how much, our weather station rain gauge has been playing up, the test tube back up had about 20mm of water in it, with the weather station saying 10mm. But either way it was enough for there to be puddles on the ground and enough for me not to be able to take the digger on any of the new tracks. Basically the risk of undoing all of our hard work to date it with heavy treads and soft soils. That and I only like to get stuck once a weekend.

But that's not to say there wasn't plenty of work to do! Much to the dismay to the Berm Queen, although I have to mention it was at her prompting, I piled up many large piles of dirt to be made into berms on both Frank'N'Furter and Anti Disestablishment, at last count seven of the baby corners now have berms ready to begin seasoning to match the many existing berms. On top of this, I piled up more dirt on the newly widened corners on the climb on Frank'N'Furter to make the descent a lot more fun.

Berm Queen in Action
After this, I decided to have a break from Diggering and go and try out the Rock Breaker on the cliff on the As Yet UnNamed Climbing Track. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the tool to fit in the slot (hur hur.) So after consulting the manual (yay for the internet,) and Colin that evening it seems that I had received the wrong size tools.

So with that setback it was back to Diggering and I was beginning to scratch my head about what to do next. I piled up some mounds of dirt on a couple of straights on Anti Disestablishment to be somehow made into mini rollers. Wasn't sure how, but I was sure it would work out. After this I decided to explore an old trail Col and I had built way back in the day and had meant to get back to but didn't. It was a bit overgrown but the bench was still there and it didn't take too long to get it back into shape. The biggest issue was avoiding all the Onga Onga which has sprung up. It was interesting to see how we had progressed in trail building particularly in corners as this was a bit short and steep by our new standards, we will come back soon and put the new learning into this corner. I struggled to find the rock cliff which stopped us last time as nature had come and taken over and everything was green and lush, but soon I was extending the track, the plan will be a nice sweeping set of corners to connect to the rest of River Track.

While I was beavering away, Lisa was working hard clearing the trail corridor on the Upper Tracks and then into the berms I had freshly piled up. A solid six hours of work!

First Stage, need to dry before compacting

We decided to call it a day early and I felt good about the progress made, most of the recent tracks was essentially at the hand finishing stage and would now be off-limits to the Digger so it can bed in nicely for Summer.

Colin popped in after an assault on Mt Oxford and we were planning what we would do over the weekend. Unfortunately again it rained heavily overnight and much more than Thursday night. Again this pretty much meant no Digger on anything new. So Plan Z was brought out, and Col started to blade out the line for the proposed Skills Area.

I went off to vainly try to get the rock breaker to work then heading in to town to get the right size tools. Lisa and Luke planted out Anti Disestablishment with natives. I return and get stuck into the cliff with a now working rock breaker, but it wasn't terribly effective. Three hours later I had made a difference but not a significant one, in fact it was probably more effective with the digger. My shaken back and wrists would attest to this. So I head back to be Col's rock and rake boy. Col also hit a bit of a snag with another cliff face that was resisting the Digger. However after an afternoon of toil Col makes it through and we call it another day.


More rain overnight but not as much as previously, but this still writes off any Digger Action on fresh tracks. So we head back to the Skills Area. At the end of the cliff section Col was working on, the plan was to build a great big timber wall ride, however after pulling off all the tangle weed and vegetation we discover that Mother Nature was one step ahead of us and left us a great big natural one for us! With a bit of tinkering on both the entry and exit, we should have a great big wall ride and a great big berm for people to play with. Of course the sun breaks out mid morning and turns into a lovely day and one where I got quite badly sunburnt!

We also bladed out the entire course for the skills area which we hope to get under way and potentially finish by Christmas 2011. Without giving too much away, we used the awesomeness of the Digger to collect all the random huge rocks around the area to be put to use as a rock garden. There will be whole lot of other tests for safe skill development...

Rock Quarry
Almost Finished. Big Rock has been moved

AD in Foreground, River Track in Midground, Wall Ride/Berm in Background

3x Rollers on AD. Don't really show up on Camera
New Culvert

We had another go with the rock breaker in another rocky area, with Colin confirming that it was pretty useless, so we may have to re-think our route in that area as well. From here it was driving over the mini rollers with the Digger which worked pretty well, and putting the culvert in on Anti Disestablishment and that was job done for another Digger weekend. Not a lot of new track completed however almost all the current tracks are at a hand finishing stage and should be ready to shred by Christmas.

We hope to see you over Summer
Mr Haven.

Friday, November 04, 2011

November Dig Day 12 November

It's the second Saturday of the Month and it's a Dig Day.
Meet at the car bay - follow the pink arrows from the Haven sign.
If you don't know where we are, email for a map

On the cards for this Dig Day:
  • Digger Action
  • Hand sculpting big beautiful berms
  • Raking out the new tracks.
  • General Trail maintenance
  • Planting and releasing of natives.

Stay for as long or as short as you want.
Bring a bike and some food/drink.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October was the Month of the Digger

October being a special month with five Saturdays prompted me to want to try and get the Digger out each weekend, well I made it happen. The weather didn't play ball the whole time, but it wasn't too terrible.

New tracks built:
Anti Disestablishment - Finished
As Yet UnNamed Climbing Track - Just under half way
Miners Track - extended & Finished
Eagles Nest - turning bay, stage 1 Finished

The recent great weather and wind had dried the new tracks sufficiently to allow me to head back to the AYUNC Track. At start of play I had made it to the third corner and fourth traverse. On the way up, I fixed up the odd bit of storm damage and then got stuck into more trail building.

I started to encounter a lot more rocky terrain and this slowed me down, I still managed to get a few dips and climbs and wiggles on my traverse. I found what I thought was the perfect quick corner, however as these things tend to be, it wasn't quite as perfect as I first thought and it took a lot longer than expected and still needs a bit of love.

On the fifth traverse, again it was pretty rocky and with a bit of  a nervous time with loose edges and what felt like steep sections on the digger, I came to a major rock face, that I couldn't quite break through. Instead of doing something foolish, I decided to head back down and to tidy up the corners as well as clean up the mess from the traverse above. One of the side effects from building trails above each other, is that crap goes downhill. It does mean a lot of cleaning up each session, but it will be built soon!

Col came over for a visit as I was widening one of the corners and as I was getting a bit tired on the digger, he took over and soon finished this and another one, so they are all ready for the finishing touches by hand. We also fixed up a chicane that didn't work and then went for a hoon with the digger to Frank'N'Furter, where Col fixed up our worst storm damage in about 30 mins, which was a great relief!

So as I look back, and having ridden all the new tracks, it was a great month for diggerage!
Over 3 kilometres of new track have been built, and that's just one way!
They are also pretty good to ride now, and they will only improve as they settle in and harden up. I can't wait for the natives to bounce back and take over.

Here are the  before and after shots from the worst damage from the storm on Frank'N'Furter

Here is a new leaner pine that happened after the storm.

And here is the AYUNC Track in it's glory and to the right, the 4WD Track & Miners Track.

The rock breaker and digger are booked already for the next Dig Day, we will need plenty of people to rake the new stuff, work on the trail corridor on the old stuff and to plant trees. Plus you can always ride your bike! 

We hope to see you out here over Summer soon.
Mr Haven.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Miners Track Complete

Another weekend and another super session with the Digger.

A quick update on the storm of last week, thankfully everything has drained nicely and firming up again, we will start repairs on the next dig day (12 November.) The water receded very quickly thanks largely to the outlet on Lake Ellesmere being open. On the seal road, there was standing water over the wheels of cars during the day, but by evening it had gone.

Here is a during and after shot of the same location.

So back to Miners Track, I decided to get the digger again but couldn't use it on any of the recent tracks with them being too wet, the digger weight would just undo all the hard work, I had already completed a bit of a recce and the 4WD track was OK with no slips and the top of the land had drained nicely. There was forecast rain during the day on Friday and then good all weekend. So away we went.

The journey up the 4WD wasn't pleasant, I was terrified, it was super steep and the digger kept tipping and slipping. I'm pretty sure I freak out much much earlier than any potential trouble, but it wasn't fun especially as it was my first time up there. But we made it, a few more grey hairs, but safe and sound.

We had the forecast rain during the day and so I got stuck into a corner that we were coming back to on Eagles Nest, basically it had a bunch of huge rocks we couldn't break, so I was going to try and dig them out. After not much success, it started to rain quite heavily and I wasn't a happy chappie at all. I clambered over the rock and headed out to where we had got to on Miners Track.

For those who don't know Gold Valley supposedly had gold back in the mid 1880s and a bunch of Adits and a vertical shaft were made on our land. This benched "road" was access to the vertical shaft.I got a wee bit further than Col had made a turning bay for the quad bike and with it still raining I chucked it in. Curses to the weather gods.

The next day was as forecast, the existing tracks were a bit slippery but as I got into virgin territory, it was nice and dry and good to work in. There was a good news/bad news situation working with an existing bench that had overgrown over at least 15 years. With it being a rock wall bench, there wasn't too much dirt that had built up over time, so if I dug up too much soil, I hit a lot of rock from the original track that took ages to get rid of, and so I had to get used to working off-camber on a downhill at the top of our land with a nice drop off the side. With a reasonable high centre of gravity and no suspension it took some getting used to, but once I did, I flew through the work. A few sections of tangle weed and some bigger broom were the only things that really slowed me down. 

It got kind of boring following a "road" being used to making wiggles and making fun diversions, but it was awesome being in another area that I have never visited. By the end of Saturday I was about 50m from the end and in an area that Colin and I had explored from a couple of years ago. The bench wasn't as visible in this section, so it was easy for us to think it was a track here already but not 100% certain. If we had kept bush bashing for another 50m we would have hit the road section.

One of the main reasons for me wanting to get this track completed was so that we could clear our boundary lines of broom and thus end our friendly letters from ECan about getting rid of it. Plus it should be a blast to ride, being pretty much downhill all the way, it affords some stunning views of Lake Ellesmere, the Pacific Ocean and of the Southern Alps, a magical land indeed.

I think I may have found a relic of the mine and potentially the mine itself, with a faded sign with an arrow and a vague trail heading up to the rock face. Definitely worth an explore!

 On Sunday morning I broke through to the fenceline, bliss! I then decided to clear a nice turning circle, which would make it nice for the quad bike and trailer to park up, clear the necessarily broom from the boundary and set up the area for the AYUNC Track for when it would meet up and then where the proposed downhill track will go as well. It all went wonderfully. I discovered an old channel that fed a wee pond, which was quite deep, which was a very welcome surprise. I may have found a spring as well, as moving through the bench, I seem to have found a water source, that bubbles up from the ground. Fingers Crossed, it may be able to be used to irrigate the far end of the property.

After a hearty lunch, I finished by tidying up the corners and killing more broom and heading up to the next major challenge. In my head Eagles Nest will continue from where it is to Miners Track. The catch is the top of the mine is a very narrow and large cliff face and with our property boundary, we have just about 2m of space and very steep and potentially quite rocky for about 100m. I managed to build a track to the start of the steep section and decided to wait until more experienced heads and hands were at hand before progressing further. It should work...

And here is Miners Track in all her glory, 571m of mostly downhill with some killer views and nice regeneration going on!

On Monday, I made a turning circle at the end of Eagles Nest, tidied up some corners and then heading down the 4WD track which was much more comfortable than heading up. I then did some community service, opening up the drains on Gold Valley Rd and clearing a slip on our neighbour's land, since their digger is feeling poorly at the moment.

Not sure where to next week, potentially back to AYUNC, if it has dried up enough, maybe some maintenance, back onto Frank'N'Furter or maybe Eagles Nest! So much choice!

Mr Haven.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Spring Storm

Well it's being just over two years since our last 100mm of rain days and I am pleased to say that we again got off pretty lightly.

Two days later the river is finally safe enough to cross so I can have a bit of an explore. The river was pretty explosive turbulent and about 4x the usual high flow. Lisa captured our waterfall where there is usually a 2m drop but the river was so high there was hardly a drop at all.

This is another opportunity for us to thank all of our past and present trail builders and helpers at Haven and the weathering of this storm is another testament to the hard work, forethought and planning that has gone into the trails.

Here are some more photos Lisa took at the end of the rain day.

Bottom of 4WD Track

Looking across to new AYUNC Track

Valley Run-Off Waterfall in full steam

On Frank"N"Furter, part of track underwater

Trail update
All of the Upper Tracks are fine and can be ridden now.
Surprisingly was there was no damage to the super steep 4WD track, the recent work has paid off and the drains worked as well as staying hard pack.
All of the Lower Tracks, with their proximity to the River and at the bottom of the water run-off from our land are pretty sodden, but again I was surprised at how quickly it is draining.
SSh Track has gotten a bit narrower near the river, but is fine
River Track is fine, the high tide marks on the berms are pretty impressive 
Anti Disestablishment is fine, some cosmetic damage to the new berms and to some of the softer tracks. The track is draining really well.
AYUNC Track is also fine, a couple of newer bits have fallen away and new dirt has washed off down the hill, but this should be pretty easy to fix up. I was conscious about putting in a lot of drainage humps and by and large they have worked. The track is pretty sodden.
Frank"N"Furter is ok, a few minor slips and parts of the track closest to the river were submerged, but again these should be pretty simple to fix up with the digger. This track is pretty sodden so it may be closed for a wee while.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

More Digger Action

Another weekend full of Digger Action at Haven MTB Park. We continued working on the AYUNC Track.
As Yet UnNamed Climbing Track

By close of play, we had completed 3 corners and four traverses, a whole bunch of wiggles and 504m of track.

Although it wasn't all plain sailing this session, a few cliffs and massive rocks that couldn't be dug out slowed us down, the tangle weed was pretty endemic which made it quite tough to make progress. It was sad to knock down some of the older Mahoe that were regenerating, but I managed to get round all the established Kanuka. The good news is that for every Mahoe that died, there were at least 10 cousins doing well and I also put paid to the remaining gorse and broom, but there wasn't too much in evidence.

Lisa worked great guns on the messy second corner, where I put in a random chicane to get the necessary height to get passed an old Mahoe and a massive rock. There is a nice surprise for people on the downhill leg. I think when it beds down it will work out just fine. I rode up it OK yesterday and the down is already good fun. Like any climbing track, it sure is a blast on the way down!

Lisa also provided a sumptuous feast each day and hot beverages which were greatly appreciated. Nature also provided a very cool picnic rock. I have also added to the burgeoning rock collection, so we will make a mini stonehenge picnic area under the pine tree.

So onward and upward now, with the third corner mostly cut, the traverses will get shorter as we follow the property boundary, this edge is on a diagonal ending with a point at the top of the hill. Not sure if it will speed up now, with more corners and not knowing how much dirt is in there with the rocks, but it's been a blast so far.

Another digger session is on the cards for this weekend, although the forecast may mean it won't be shorts and sunnies time, I am sure looking forward to watching these new trails bed in and ride them in time for summer.

Mr Haven.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October Dig Day

Weather disrupted the Dig Day on Saturday with it being postponed until Sunday, however we had the Digger so Mr Haven had the waterproofs on and braved the hail and cold southerlies to build track.

This weekend's mission was to start on the as yet unnamed climbing track down the far end.  The concept behind this is a climbing friendly and fun track will take you from the bottom of the land to the top and you won't mind. It will be so much fun, that you will love coming down it.

It was great to work in an area that I have never set foot on, it was pretty exciting to finally be track building on the "forgotten" corner of the land. Most people, including us, tend to think the row of pines is the end of the property but it extends a lot further. I did a bit of exploring in the rocky end in amongst the Kanuka and it was like being a little kid again rock and tree climbing...

Here are a few before and after shots.

We made steady progress on Saturday cutting and winding along the fenceline and dealing with broom and gorse of increasing age, toward the property boundary it was getting close to 20 year old gorse, and it was very satisfying to pull it out roots and all with the Digger. I also got my first jumbo rock out and made it to the first corner as night fell. There are lots of giant rocks that add to the scenic look.

Sunday dawned a better day and back into the fun on the digger. It was slower going as it was all jungle to traverse with many humps and hollow and cliffs to fill up and negotiate. Lots of established Mahoe shading out the broom and gorse in amongst some giant Elderberry trees. At close of play, we were about 20-30m away from the next corner having completed 358m of track.

Lisa was working away on the berms on Anti Disestablishment, this is firming up nicely and should be ready for riding by the end of the month. Lisa has sorted out two of the four major berms and Shailer has raked most of the rest of the track. The culvert has been purchased for the tributary crossing, this should go in over the next month.

Over the next couple of months, we hope to have Frank'N'Furter ready for riding and extended some more, reopen the Miners Track and, with luck, finish it, in order to meet up with the Climbing track which should be finished by Christmas. We have another allocation of natives from Trees for Canterbury to put in the ground as well.

We hope you come out soon for a visit and a ride.
Mr Haven