Ben Johnson and I have been on a real nature binge at The Springs: intoxicated with fragrant breezes, bubbling spring water, clear blue skies, colorful wild flowers, singing birds, liberating temperatures, and, most of all, satisfying work. We positively indulged in a nature bender!
Ben’s three day bacchanalia began last Friday, when he raised two boardwalks near the trailhead to ecstatic new levels. The 8′, 4×6″ runners, that supported the deck boards disappeared into the ground long ago and were blocking the water, microbes and invertebrates that move through the soil.
The affair lasted all day, and when it was over, he was drunk with success.
I joined Ben on Saturday, modestly intending to cut buckthorn sprouts and seedlings near signpost #1 and completely unaware that he was riding the Bull. I reminded him that our recent deck repair efforts were motivated by Big Jim Davee, and he just gazed a bit glassy eyed down the trail and said: “I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time.” We briefly discussed the next boardwalk on our priority list, and, assuming he was simply going to lift up the 8′ sections and reset them on level logs, I left Ben to his mission and proceeded to cut brush near signpost #1.
Deck #3, comprised of 6, 8′ sections, is close to the east edge of the Buckthorn Alley and it rocked and rolled as you passed over. There are wetlands on either side and, like decks 1 and 2 above, the runners were totally submerged in the soil.
A closer view of the gap shown above.
The far end of the boardwalk.
Just before noon, I noticed that my iPhone had gone totally mad and I was not able to use it. I was desperate (yah, a slave to my fondle slab) to keep in touch with Pati, who had just arrived in Uruguay to work with children for three weeks, and I had to let her know that I was incommunicado. I raced over to deck #3 to borrow Ben’s phone and found him hard at work.
He had surveyed the situation and boldly, or perhaps, bulldly, decided to raise the deck in dramatic fashion. Back in my days at “The Quiet Company” we called this ‘setting a stretch goal’ and Ben delivered. By the end of the day he was halfway done.
I wondered why I had spent the day cutting brush; I should have been helping Ben. I promised to help him finish the next day.
We met early Sunday morning and I talked Ben into bringing his new Stihl 261 C-M chainsaw to the site. Thanks to the Kettle Moraine Natural History Association for purchasing this versatile tool for Ben!
We decided to harvest logs to raise the last 24′ of the deck from a huge red oak tree that had fallen across the trail, and Ben made quick work of it with his new chainsaw. Another day reveling with mother nature; we couldn’t get enough!
The deck turned out great and I was really impressed with Ben’s effort!
That was an intense, extended, weekend for Mr. Johnson!
Below is an example of the brush clearing I have been doing. Ever since DNR Trail Boss, Don Dane, said they were planning to burn The Springs in the spring of 2015, I’ve been thinking about laying more fuel down on the ground. I could be wrong, but I’m hoping that the cut buckthorn will dry out by next spring and contribute to a hotter ground fire, which in turn will scorch the cut tips of the buckthorn stems and kill them.
The same views after brush cutting.
I cut brush all day Monday and it was very relaxing.
This view is from above the Hidden Spring.
Sunset on the deck above the Indian Springs.
See you at The Springs!