Recently I noticed that there was very little room to stand in front of our display at the top of the trail (see picture). Frankly, I couldn’t believe why that spot was chosen, when moving it several feet to the left would have been better by far. But whatever, it’s what we now need to deal with.
That’s when I decided that I needed to reduce the rock in front of it so people could comfortably stand in front of it and read the text as well as compare the picture to what they could view from that point. So I brought up our cordless rock chisel and got all medieval on the rocks in front of the display. The result is now what you see here (see picture). Although at first it was easy going, as the rock split along clear lines of weakness, it soon got harder, and I was literally chipping away at some very hard rock.
I finally gave up sooner than I would have otherwise, leaving a ridge of rock jutting up from the trail, since at the time I had no other choice. Perhaps later I can reduce it more, and create a smooth surface, but one battery’s worth of power is about all I can take on my wrist.
After I became Maintenance Chair, I began considering new kinds of trail maintenance activities. Since Sonoma Overlook Trail is a particularly rocky trail, over the past year or so I pioneered what I dubbed “Rock Patrol“. As it was originally conceived, it consisted of hiking the trail with a shovel and a pry bar, levering out rocks and backfilling with soil to remove “trip rocks” and make a smoother tread.
Over time, I added an activity that I called “trail smoothing”, which I conceived of as a more systematic effort over a stretch of trail from 6-12 feet or more. In this activity, we would remove many rocks from the trail bed and fill with soil and gravel, packing it down to recreate a smooth tread. This was devised as an activity for our monthly group trail maintenance work days.
Now I’ve added another activity that I’m calling “rock reduction”. To do this, we’ve purchased a cordless rock chisel/hammer/drill (pictured; click the photo to see a video of it in action). As I say in the video, it is a complete game-changer. I really don’t think there is a rock on the trail that we can’t now either completely remove or reduce to trail level or below.
Given that fact, I’m now open for any trail hiker or runner’s nominations of rocks to remove or reduce. Take a photo of your most hated rock and/or ridge of bedrock that impinges on the trail and send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org along with a description of where to find it on the trail. Just do your best; I’m pretty sure I will recognize it. Having nominated it, I will let you know when it has been removed or reduced.
Check out the video. It’s less than 2 1/2 minutes long and I think it does a great job of illustrating how we can now take down even some of the hardest rocks on the trail (many are much softer than the one in the video, which I had originally attempted to take out using a large, heavy, iron pry bar).
Rock reduction is now officially part of our arsenal.