I left work early yesterday, and T & I went out to do some work on the Lil West Virginia trail at Pocahontas State Park. Lil WVA is about a 1 mile long offshoot of the Tall Oaks Loop (commonly referred to as the Blue loop), and offers more technical challenges.
Lil WVA doesn’t get as much traffic as the easier trails and leaf coverage this time of year makes it difficult to find the trail at times. Our mission was to blow off the trail and remove small debris. We stopped by the tool shed to pick up the blower and then headed to the fire road access point. T helped me open the gate and thought it was cool that we got to drive the truck down the fire road.
We backtracked the last section of the Blue trail and entered Lil WVA where it terminates and merges back onto Blue. The leaves were thick and wet, so some sections were a bit difficult to clear, but we were making good progress. About a half mile into Lil WVA, we stopped so T could practice using the hand saw and also try out the backpack blower.
After sawing some downed limbs it was time to fire up the blower and let T give it a go. I didn’t figure he’d make it far because it’s pretty heavy, but he wanted to give it a try. The only problem was that it wouldn’t start back up. In the process of trying, I cut my finger, which started bleeding all over the place. Awesome. I rinsed it off and applied pressure, which seemed to do the trick. It didn’t help with the blower though.
Eventually I removed the air filter and that allowed enough oxygen into the equation to get things going again. Since we lost a fair amount of time, we passed on T working the blower and got moving. A while later, T notified me that he had lost a glove. I’m not sure why he was wearing gloves and also carrying heavy mittens stuffed in his jacket pockets, but apparently his mother had something to do with it.
We backtracked, found his glove, and then got back to the mission at hand. After crossing through the ravine, T notified me that he had lost his glove again. Seriously? This time the executive decision (i.e. my decision) was to leave it. It was getting dark and I hadn’t really planned to be out there after dark with a 9 year old. Fortunately, I had at least brought along a headlamp.
The last bit of Lil WVA was traversed at a pretty good clip. I was less worried about blowing off the trail as I was getting out of there. As we reached the entrance of the trail off of Blue, I turned off the blower and turned on the headlamp as darkness had settled in. We got back to the truck at about 5:30 safe and sound, but it was quite dark. Thank goodness for the headlamp.
As I was closing the gate at the fire road access, the park police pulled up to find out what I was up to. I explained, and he wished me a happy new year before heading over to check on a car still parked in the lot.
On the way home, T admitted he was glad to get off the trail when we did, but also thought it was a pretty cool adventure. While I agreed, it reminded me yet again that you should always hope for the best, but plan for the worst, even when doing something as mundane as running the blower down a section of local trail.
Final Note: Lil WVA is in need of some love, and there are some reroutes and other updates in the works. If you are interested in helping out with this or other trail projects, just let us know.