Building Badger Mountain

Yesterday I volunteered to help build a trail up Badger Mountain. I have a hard time calling it a mountain without a little sarcasm, considering my Montana roots, but when you’re building a trail up it, somehow it seems like scaling Everest.

I had volunteered last year to build the trail on the other side of the mountain and carried buckets of gravel for a whole day. Yesterday we were digging out the trail itself so that gravel could be placed on it. This trail is for bikers and hikers and even horses.

There were flags placed every 15 feet or so. We would take a section and clear the vegetation away and flatten out the trail, then move up the line to the front of the pack and take the next section. For the first couple hours we worked fast. We took a break and went up higher for another hour. Somehow I managed to break a shovel. I sliced it clean in two. Very odd. Then we stopped for lunch. By this time my ankles were killing me. I had just bought new boots, and they were breaking me in. Fortunately, somebody had tape.

After lunch it got harder. We were running out of energy, and the ground was getting steeper. I managed to snap another shovel, leading me to believe maybe I was using it wrong or trying too hard. Or maybe the clumps of vegetation are just too much for shovel handles? Either way, I decided to switch to a different tool and ended up with a grub hoe (like a really heavy hoe, or an axe with the blade rotated 90 degrees). This one I didn’t manage to break.

We made it to the ridge and started on the other side, but immediately noticed a difference in the mountain. Whereas before we were digging in dirt and hitting an occasional rock, here we were fighting through rock held together with the occasional grain of dirt. Progress slowed to a trickle, and it was compounded by our exhaustion.

Finally, they called quitting time and I struggled down the hill, into my car, and home. After getting most of the dirt off in the shower, I switched to a relaxing bath for half an hour, then watched a couple movies before crashing. It’s morning now, and I’m sore all over.

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