Sunday, March 30, 2008

A trail is (re)born

I've been riding the awesome trails at Carvin's Cove for over 10 years now. One of my favorites, because of the technical challenge and outright beauty, is Hemlock Tunnel. (The trail formerly known as Clownhead). I love the steep start through the wide-open hardwood forest, then how it narrows into a chute of rhododendrons. The trouble with this trail has always been that it holds leaves like no other trail in the park. For years I was convinced that the steepest section was nothing more than a deep rut covered in two feet of leaves.

When Skippy laid plans to have a work day to rake Hemlock Tunnel, I was absolutely going to be there to help. The opportunity to expose the ditch in order to convince everyone that it needs to be re-routed was in the front of my mind.

After the ten or so trail volunteers made our way down the first few switchbacks onto the steep section, what we found beneath surprised us all. The trail wasn't the least bit rutted. In fact, the trail bed was solid and quite wide. All those years of bouncing down the trail, staying to the far right to avoid the chasm beneath the leaves was for not! This section is awesome! My only regret was that I elected to leave my bike at home. I can't wait to go ride it!

After an hour or so removing several metric tons of leaves from a long stretch of HT, we decided that we'd try to clear as much of the currently closed Araminta trail. Most folks I know, present company included, have only ridden this trail once or twice while it was open. I had heard many stories of riders getting lost trying to find their way through to it's end on the wickedly steep Kerncliff Trail. Skippy also tried in vain recently to find his way onto Araminta from the Kerncliff end, only to have to backtrack up and over two hugely steep fire road climbs strewn with loose rock. No fun.

So when we began clearing the section that intersects Hemlock Tunnel, I thought we were in for smooth sailing. We had rakes ferociously clearing leaves revealing more and more trail every few minutes. We were on it, baby!

Then across a creek, it was gone. No sign of anything that even remotely resembled a trail bed. I know it used to lead somewhere. I had ridden it all the way to Kerncliff before. We'll need to consult the all-knowning trailmaster (aka Snuggletruck) on this one. He'll know where it picks up. So my knobby-tired friends, Araminta isn't open yet. We'll get there eventually. As you can see in the picture above, we need some chainsaw work on the trail. As always, your help is greatly appreciated. Go to to sign up to do some trail work.

Then after all that hard work yesterday, I was looking forward to a nice long ride at Arcadia today. The weather had other plans. March is silly. In like a lamb, out like lion this year. See ya on the trail!


TSWimba said...

Nice blog man, I found you via Kerkove’s site. I’m over in Richmond. It’s great to hear that Carvin’s cove is open again. Are the Explorer park trails still closed? I’m hoping that this weather shapes up for the Dragon’s Back XXC next weekend.


Skmeetz said...

Yep, Explore Park is still open and the trails are in good shape. We're just waiting to see what happens to the Park in the long term. Right now it's a wait-and-see game, but we should have some finality by June. See ya at Dragon's Back!

Roanoke Valley NMBP said...

Aramita? Kerncliffe? What did those trails used to be called b.m. ? ( before mules) Lower Clownhead? Slate Hill? Get Ron to tell you the story about how we built the Clownhead with the precursor to the Ditchwitch...the Steamwitch. Or was that the Windwitch? Or the Waterwitch? Or the Sunwitch?