Coney Flats Project
by Adam Mehlberg
This year the Middle St. Vrain and Coney Flats seasonal opening went well with very few trees to clear, compared to last year. The majority of the work this year was at Coney Flats. After driving in from both the Middle St. Vrain trail head and the Coney Flats trail head, our two groups met at the big Coney Creek crossing. Some of our group headed back out, while others set up camp and began assessing our project.
We began by retrieving the decking we had stashed last year and hauling it to the north side of the creek. Part of our group began pulling the old decking from the semi rotted logs of the first part of the walking bridge. The forest service guys went up the road a ways and began working on two trees to drop and limb for use as replacement supports for the bridge. After a little bit of time, Gordon hauled the first log out to our waiting group. We pealed the bark off of the log, which will help it last longer, and began prepping the two ends to support the log.
The next log was from a dead standing tree, so we did not de-bark it. After getting the two logs positioned Matt, Forest Service sawyer, cut a notch out of the shore end of the two large logs to act as a step. Drilling pilot holes, we quickly decked the two logs with new boards and put in another short step. Not bad for an afternoon.
We hauled the remaining materials back across the creek and had dinner. During the evening it drizzled for a while, but the next morning we saw some patchy clearing in the clouds. After breakfast it was time to finish up our project.
To start the day we built an ugly fence. There is a shallow lake near the road that will dry up some times and a few have driven into it leaving a muddy mess. No Motorized signs have been placed here, but we needed to add a fence as added dissuasion. Using the remains of the buck and rails we hauled up last year (a few had been used as fire wood) we worked out a plan to run rails in a zig zag pattern with short sections of thick logs between them. We got about two coursed up with the materials we had. The Forest Service sawyers then cut us some small diameter trees to use as rails. We decided to just use them as is without removing the limbs. In the end we got about waist high with our ugly fence.
The day was turning out to be mostly cloudy as we set to work on the next section of walking bridge. This would be a section that would raise a low part of the bridge to the higher level we had repaired the day before. Two more logs would be needed, so the Forest Service sawyers set to work on finding two candidates. Gordon pulled the first one to us and be began stripping the bark. Once done, Gordon chained up one end of the log and pulled it into the creek with a few guys using a strap to guide it as it floated out to where it would be placed. Using man power the log was pulled up and onto the new supports.
As it turned out, the big end of the log was at the wrong end. Using a stack of decking under the center of the log our guys delicately spun the log around and lowered it back into position, with the big end in the right location.
The second log was hauled to us and de-barked, then spun on the road, before it was also floated out to take its place next to the first log. As the two logs were being oriented and anchored in place the remainder of the crew began hauling some of the abundant gravel over to a section of the walking path that was soft. Using Gordon’s tire chain rock basket, a bunch of large boulders were pulled over to line the edge of the trail where the gravel was being placed.
Boulder tug of war (the boulder is winning)
The decking on the new section went down as fast as the day before. We even used the old decking to raise part of the remaining lower planks to help during high water.
The new bridge section, south end
With the drizzle starting again, it was time to pack up and head out. We all took the Coney Flats road back to Beaver Reservoir with the rain chasing us out.