Crossing the Creek

Ready to build a new trail!
Ready to build a new trail!

Friday, June 5 to Sunday, June 7, 2020

Since finishing Phase I of my cabin, it’s become more of an escape than a weekend to-do list. And this weekend was no different. By 5:05, I was on I-5, heading out of the city. I didn’t have much planned, other than getting away from technology and social media. I’m glad I have no cell phone service out there.

Dense vegetation on the other side of the creekAs soon as I got to River Song, I headed for the creek on the north end. I had started clearing it out last Sunday, and I wanted to finish it before the weekend rain hit. As with previous weekends, the best weather was on Friday afternoon. I needed to take advantage of it when I could.

There wasn’t much left to clean out. Once I pulled out what I could with the rake, I could see the creek wasn’t as deep as I thought. I climbed down into it easily enough and grabbed the last of the branches and brush, tossing it in the stack I started last week. My machete made quick work of the brush on the other side, and it didn’t take long to whack out a bit of a trail. Now I had enough area cleared out to figure out where to put my future bridge, and how long it would need to be.

I figured a couple of 12′ 2x4s would do it, or maybe some vine maples, if I had some long enough straight ones. But, that was for later. I hauled the brush pile to the river bank for burning later and headed back to the cabin. Time to try out my new Mr. Buddy propane heater.

Saturday, June 6

Mr Buddy propane heaterIt had started raining in the middle of the night, just as the weather forecast predicted. And, it rained pretty hard throughout the morning. My Mr. Buddy propane heater worked great, keeping the cabin a nice, toasty 70 degrees.

Finally, by about noon, the rain let up enough for me to go out and play with my chainsaw. I was really looking forward to clearing that gap through the log jam.

I grabbed my chainsaw and headed for the river. The river was a few inches lower today than it had been last week, and I didn’t need my boots at all. I changed into my water shoes and waded across to the log jam.

The logs were bigger than I remembered. Two, in particular, were too big for me to cut.

Nice, toasty 70 degrees!I trimmed what I could, widening most of the gap. But, at the upstream side, the gap was still firmly blocked. Two larger logs leaned up against the bank, supporting others wedged into the jam. It’s possible my chainsaw might be able to cut through them, but it would not be safe. I sliced at one a little bit, and then stopped. I did not want it to come down on me.

Well, that was disappointing. I picked up my gear and headed back toward the cabin. I could, at least, work on my trail on the other side of the creek. My bushwhacking tools, which I had brought just in case, were with my boots next to the creek.

The other side of the creek was wild with lush, green vegetation. I whacked at it with my machete, clearing a path to the bluff. The new growth was still soft and succumbed to my blade with little effort. This bluff was slightly less steep than that on the other side. Enough so that I didn’t need a climbing rope. It wasn’t long before I’d cleared a trail to the top. Fifteen minutes later, my new trail joined up with the one I’d built last summer.

Vine maple bridgeNice! All I needed was that bridge, and I’d have quick and easy access to the mile or so of trails on the north side of the creek. Not only is it a nice, convenient place for hiking, but also there are some nice sheltered flat areas that will make great secluded camping spots.

After an extended lunch break, I took a look at my collection of vine maple logs. Most are four inches thick or less and about six feet or so long. Some are longer, and a few are thicker. But not many that fit my needs for a bridge. I selected the ones I thought might work and then cut down another vine maple to add to my collection. In all, I had six that might work. I slid them down the bluff to the riverbank below.

Unfortunately, four of the six got caught half way down. I hadn’t intended to work on the actual bridge this evening, but since I had to climb down now anyway…

The logs, which I had trimmed to ten feet, spanned the creek perfectly. However, a couple were a little flimsy as they were not very thick, and all were a little crooked. I’m not sure how well they’ll actually work as a bridge, but I left them there because it seemed like a good place for them.

Sadly, the bluff has become rather muddy and slick with my recent activity and all the rain. I probably should refrain from using it anymore until we either get a dry spell or I figure out how to put in steps.

Sunday, June 7

A doe and her two fawns crossing the riverSince I’d made the decision to limit my activity on the bluff, I wasn’t really sure what to do today. I just knew I didn’t want to sit inside. Might as well stay home for that! I took a break on my deck, enjoying the sound of the river and birds. I’ve never heard so many birds before in my life as I do here. I watched as a belted kingfisher dove from a tree on the other side of the river, straight down into the water, probably after a fish. The river is now teaming with little fish, hardly bigger than a few inches long.

Suddenly, I heard splashing down below. And not a little splash, as if from the kingfisher, but a big splash. Several of them. Something was in the water. A human or ? I ran to the end of the deck and looked down. A doe with her two adorable little fawns made their way across from the far side, and then strolled up the river, toward the log jam. I have seen evidence of deer activity, but this is the first time I’ve actually seen one. Or three! They were so cute!

I whipped out my phone for some quick photos and a short video. One of the little fawns stopped and squatted for a few minutes, doing her business in the river. When she was done, she bounded playfully through the water, joining her mother and sibling further up the river.

The start of my new gathering place/firepitAfter the deer excitement, I decided to tackle my first gathering place/fire pit. I know I want one at the northern end, down on the river bank, but I also want up up here, by the cabin. I wandered around for a bit, checking out the various logical locations. All but one potential site were too close to the cabin. I finally settled on a spot between the cabin and the road. It’s a little close for comfort, but with my property being long and narrow, there’s not much I can do about it. The good thing is there’s a thick, healthy screen of vegetation blocking the view from the road.

This area is not very level and still has some old vine maple stumps, as well as a child’s slide someone discarded decades ago. A vine maple had grown up through the slide, entangling it in its remains. Fortunately, the slide was pretty rusty, so I was able to pull it away without too much trouble. The rotted vine maple pulled out of the ground pretty easily, too, although hauling it off gave my back some grief.

Dogwood growing along the riverAfter that, I decided to call it a weekend and went back to the cabin to clean up and relax for the rest of the day. I have a good start on clearing out that area, and I can finish it another time. I’ll need to dig out a few more fern root balls (always digging those out!) and vine maples, and then level the ground a bit with my rake and shovel. Once that’s done, I can bring in some bricks for a fire ring and hopefully make some benches out of the cedar logs, if I can manage to drag them to the site. It will make a really nice gathering area when I have friends over.

And after a couple more hours, I packed up, and headed out. Another weekend at my cabin on the books!