Monday, September 17, 2012

Annual Mowing of the Woodland Trail

I took DR Brush out to complete the annual mowing of the woodland trail system.  This is the DR’s 20th year performing valuable assistance in the management of Blue Jay Barrens.  The mower is one of the few things that I have purchased in my life that has actually outperformed the advertising hype.

I always mow the woodland trail just prior to the start of leaf fall.  This allows the trail to be covered by a thick layer of leaves that offers protection against erosion during the winter.  It also offers a source of enjoyment to those people who delight in crunching through newly dried autumn leaves.

Sometimes it’s hard to pick out the path of the trail through the trees.  A clue is the border of logs, branches and sticks that accumulate just off the edge of the trail.  I’m constantly flipping these obstructions out of my way as I walk.  They have been so numerous along some sections that trail curbs are beginning to form.

The trail shows up quite well in those sections of the woods where Diarrhena Grass is the primary ground cover.  The grass is most likely to take hold in woodland areas that receive additional sunlight due to falling trees.

I’ll wait until the leaves have fallen and vegetation is dormant before removing fallen trees from across the trail.  This is a large Redbud that went down during one of the wind storms earlier this year.  It should have been rather protected in the low valley between two hills, but the trunk had received damage from a Whitetail buck many years ago.  That deformity weakened the trunk enough to allow it to snap when stressed.

Sections of the trail blocked by large debris are best abandoned.  I have no desire to cut my way through this mess.  Even if I did, cut stubs look too unnatural to me.  I’d rather view them as they fell.

The best alternative route for that section of trail happened to be along the line of the original trail constructed 25 years ago.  The area is a bit crowded by sapling Sugar Maples, but the trail will be easy enough to reopen.

This section of trail was abandoned 16 years ago when blocked by falling trees.  Those trees have since decomposed.  Instead of sawing sections out of the log, all I needed to do was give it a couple of kicks.  The log crumbled easily beneath my mighty boot.

The trail is slightly more winding than it was originally.  The original route was chosen to give a view of the Sugar Maple understory spreading down the back side of the hill.  It’s nice to have the trail back where I first thought it should be.

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