Thursday, April 14, 2011

Trail Blazing

On April 2nd I had my first round with trail rerouting in Van Cortlandt Park, the Bronx, New York, North America, Earth. Trails require such micro to macro thinking (thank you Google).

The group was a handful of middle-aged men and women(40-55, and that includes me) and a group of extremely well-mannered and thoughtful teens. 

Many of the teens were out planting new shrubs and trees along the trails.

We hiked to the location (me with full wheelbarrow -oof), a descending trail on a highway overpass embankment. The embankment trail is rutting and washing out in heavy rains. 

Christina and Tom, of the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, laid out the new route.

I tackled a water hole (my take -careless drainage from the adjacent golf course), letting it flow down to the right of the re-routed trail. 

This is the upper portion of the embankment trail. The stone crew will be here over the coming weeks to begin making a stone staircase. I got to make my first stone check dams. At first glance, it seemed there wasn't much to do, but then after 4 hours, it appeared we had done a lot.

The soil level raised, another stone check dam in place, and a drainage trench dug to channel water off to the right of the trail. Plants planted alongside the trail too.

I had to keep my gardener-self somewhat in check. Otherwise, I would have been asking why we are planting such large-growing, sun-loving shrubs under a mature pine. In many ways the group was simply planting only to redirect traffic, not to encourage growth of those plants. But I had to let it go, it's not a garden, it's a weedy woods on a highway embankment. Yet, I have vowed to myself that if I am going to participate, I may as well be the expert on natives and weeds in urban habitats so that I can help decide which plants pulled should be replanted or tossed. It seems to me that knowledge would be quite useful on metro trails projects.

After we finished up on the embankment, we headed up top where another group was removing an old rusty guard rail. Next meeting, on May 7th, we'll be working with the stone crew on the steps, and then clearing brush for a reroute on the upper portion of the trail. Not a big fan of the brush clearing in this bramble-filled roadside location. I'll bring a machete.

I spotted a dead bird of prey while we were working.

A ranger came by to take the carcass away for testing.

She identified it as a red-tail hawk.


  1. gnarly feet on that hawk..still kind of beautiful even in it's demise and start of decay though..

  2. Last one looks like a phoenix to me.


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