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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

Monday, October 03, 2011

Digger = New Track in a Weekend

So I decided to have another go on the Digger.

My last escapade didn't go according to plan and after a "moment," I lost my nerve. The grand plan was to tidy up and widen some corners on the awesome benching that Col had done, but in the end I didn't do too much at all, and the other area I wanted to get to, I lost my nerve there as well. I did kill a lot of gorse and broom along the creek, so I felt good about that.

Well this session was a completely different situation. I ended up building close to 500m of track and felt awesome the whole time. Admittedly the terrain was a lot more benign and drier than the previous session, but I attempted a whole lot of stuff that would normally scare me silly.

Anti Disestablishment
So as the title suggest, I managed to build the whole track in the weekend! w00t!
I had this vague idea of putting a link track across the creek from the River Track and had left a gap in some plantings, just in case.

In the Forest, spooky
An "S" Pine

I have called this track Anti Disestablishment, as it breaks the rules, bucks the trends and is a nod to the current situation.

Starting in a paddock amongst baby pines, it wiggles and waggles and then climbs up to a three track terrace in an incredibly short space right by the creek, affording super views. You then cross a side branch of the creek and then climb and zig & zag in an established pine block, a bit of puff and excitement in amongst it all. You are rewarded with some more traversing wiggles and then the quick downhill and chicane back onto the "road" to the Skills Area.

Wiggles in the Baby Pines
Take that gorse!

Now that I write it, it doesn't seem that hard or big, but just try doing it by hand!

All that is required now is to rake and sweep the huge mounds of dirt into berms under the instruction of the Berm Queen and then a bit of water and a bit of sun and a bit of time and this is going to be one sweet track!

A chicane section I prepared earlier
Joining the Dots... Track = Complete

We have a Dig Day next weekend and there will be more digger action on offer.

May your wheels stay forever true
Mr Haven.