June 4th, 2011

wayside cross

Trench warfare

The Scots Marines went over the top, parley-vous?
The Scots Marines went over the top, parley-vous?
The Scots Marines went over the top,
they thought they heard a nickel drop,
Hinky-dinky-parley-vous.


The Scots Marines would have been outraged at what I've had to pay in trencher rentals to get three simple pipes laid. But . . . I'm done, finally. The last pipe is under the footer and retaining walls locations.

I left town early yesterday and zipped over to The Nati. Got some last-minute camping supplies at Bass Pro -- but, of course, they didn't have one essential item they carry all the time, so I'll have to order that from Campmor and have them overnight it to me. Shazbat. Then I went over to Dan Beard Council's new Scout shop to get a couple of items they've been out of at our local -- but, naturally, they didn't have one of them. (Really, what good are these people?) On my way to Lonceburg, I stopped at Stehlin's Meat Market, and they (reliable as always!) had a good supply of Uncle Mike's beef jerky, which is surely what angels backpacking across the Silver Mountains take along.

I got to the rental place by 3:00 and got the trencher loaded. I was on site at Wilderstead, had the thing unloaded and down to business by 3:30 or so. I was finished, with the pipe in the ground -- all 30' of it -- by 6:30. Unbelievable. I would have taken the trencher back, but I wouldn't have got it there before they closed.

I've learned a couple of things about trenching along the way. First, crossing a patch where you've trenched before is NOT ADVISED. I wasn't trying to, this time, but there was a soft patch, and the trencher got a wee bit close. The result was, the middle of the run was collapsing and filling in. That said, it was only the middle of the run, and I was bound and determined to get this job done, so I got some shovels and other implements of destruction and dug the collapsed part out by hand. So there.

I also now understand how archaeologists can tell the difference between undisturbed soil and ancient digging. The trencher, as it passes through undisturbed soil, throws up a mound of dirt that looks like corn meal or biscuit flour with the shortening cut in, and the trench itself is as smooth and clean-cut as a serving of wedding cake. But when you dig through an area that has been dug before and filled in, then the soil comes up in wet, clayey globs. It doesn't pile nicely, it wants to fall back into the trench, and the trench walls are unstable.

Finally, I have perfected a technique for putting safely into the ground long lengths of pipe with joints susceptible to breaking apart. I use wooden one-bys and splint the joints with duct tape. Then I take a long rope and put a half-hitch or so just outside each joint. Then I can wiggle the pipe into the hole and get it settled, lowering it down by the rope, which unties easily and comes back up. The splints I just leave in the ground.

Had a lovely evening in the holler. Heard a deer do its little hiss/sneeze, so it was probably bedding down on the hillside. Got up early this morning, filled in the trench, loaded up and headed for town. Dropped off the trencher and turned my nose toward E-ville. And I'm home. Between trenching in the late afternoon and filling in in the early morning, I missed working out in the worst of the heat.

I won't be able to get back to Wilderstead for about six weeks, what with Annual Conference, Isle Royale, Scout Camp, and Family Camp. I am thinking that we need to have an Old Venturers Reunion mid-July out yonder. Any Old Venturers looking for a bonfire to sit up late and tend?
hiker

Nom nom nom

Kaleb (Crew President) and Connor (Trek Leader) came over this evening and we finalized the menu for the Isle Royale trip. We'll go shopping Tuesday after school. It's all coming together.