Friday, August 17, 2012

Scouting Out An Eagle Scout Project

Coming Soon:  a new walking/riding trail.
My stepson Gregory will be working on his Boy Scout Eagle Project next weekend. The project entails building a trail connecting two parallel walking trails at Equicenter, in Mendon, New York. This project will improve access for clients at Equicenter, a local not-for-profit organization offers therapeutic riding sessions and equine facilitated learning (EFL) for mentally, physically and emotionally challenged children and adults. Gregory has been laying the groundwork (pun intended) for this project in between other activities for a few months now, and (fingers crossed!) it will all come together next weekend.

Beautiful rolling hills surround the facility.
The grounds at Equicenter are incredibly well-maintained and reminiscent of some of the areas of Virgina my wife and I visited during our honeymoon. Greg commented that it "was like another part of the country" and I couldn't agree more. Fortunately, we in the Rochester, New York, were there are many such places only a short drive away.

The South Barn is where the Volunteer Center is located.

There is ample parking for Greg's Eagle Scout Project volunteers this weekend.
The interior of the South Barn. Continue straight ahead to the project's site.

Overgrown brush to the left and riding areas to the right--here's where the "trail head" will be located.
Surveying the area.
Rather than developing two straight forward paths of about 20 yards each, as originally planned, Greg and his contact at Equicenter altered the plan slightly. Instead, we will go into the area at a depth of about 10 yards, sharply turn left for 20 more yards, followed by a sharp right at which point the new trail will connect with the existing one running adjacent to more riding areas. We marked the course of the path with pink plastic. Each part of the trail needs to be at least 10 feet wide, providing enough space for three horses to safely ride side-by-side (one by a client and two by trainers/educators).

Some decisions needed to be made based on the surprisingly uneven terrain.

The liaison from Equicenter shares some thoughts relative to the path of the trail.
Admittedly, to the untrained eye, the entire project seems a relatively easy one, but the devil is in the details. In addition to brush removal a number of "smaller" trees will need to be felled in order to meet the necessity of maintaining the 10' width. As we identified those trees to be removed, I was reminded of my own recent tree trimming activities--what seems like a small easily discarded branch from the ground can quickly turn into an unwieldy pain-in-the-butt limb once it hits the ground.

"Challenges" rather than "problems."
About two feet into the initial trail there is a three foot wide line of stones and rocks running parallel to the length of the area that will need to be excavated prior to laying down the trail. I am envisioning a lot of shovels being used as levers in an effort to lift the rocks from their current locations. We will have use of the center's Gator (a small golf-cart like truck) to transport tools and refuse.

Ideas about using the felled trees begin to percolate.
Greg came up with an idea of using parts of the felled tress to boarder or outline the trail. The benefit is twofold: less refuse to move and discard, and a meaningful re-use of the resources available.

Fortunately someone will be bringing a chainsaw.
One more tree marked for removal so that the trail can be widened.

Determining how to best utilize the Scouts and family we hope will be assisting this weekend.
We will need to take just a touch more than "a little off the top."
If the trail head is where the path will begin, the image above depicts the eventual trail end, or butt. I was impressed not just by the facility, but by Greg's planning--here's to hoping that we have a lot of support next weekend!

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