Friday, October 10, 2014

Virginia Lakes trailhead sign 9/27/14

"Oil the saw, sharpen axes,
Learn the names of all the peaks you see and which is highest-
there are hundreds-
Learn by hear the drainages between
Go find a shallow pool of snowmelt on a good day, bathe in the lukewarm water."
-Gary Snyder

We got help from Friends of the Inyo who brought up all the supplies for the project...thanks!! The project was to dissemble a trailhead sign board and put up a new one. The old sign board was down in an area you can't see from the parking lot which makes for a confusing trailhead. As it turned out, the sign posts were also rotted so that when we tried to dig them out the just broke apart. So we were putting a new signboard up in a visible location with new wood. It was an amazing day to be out in the field as the first snow of the year had happened the night before and it continued to snow the entire day as we's pretty magical to have the privilege to witness that first snow in the mountains.

So first thing's first, we had to take down the old sign:

We laid it out on the ground to take some measurements to use as a template for the new sign. We kept the salvageable parts of this signboard to put up next season at a trailhead that doesn't have a nice big display like this.

Now for the new parts! We had to trace and cut out new boards:

and sand everything:

Friends of the Inyo had come with the title boards already stenciled. They were then routed out to create that lovely debossed/engraved lettering. Here's Chip routing the "HOOVER WILDERNESS" letters:
You may be wondering "What are these power tools doing in Vick's Wilderness blog!" And the answer is that we were neither working in, nor was this sign within the Wilderness boundary. The boundary is about half a mile up trail.

Once we had all the pieces cut to the correct sizes we sealed them to protect them from the elements.....they got a linseed oil or water sealant finish. In the winter the boards (except for the posts) are taken down so they don't get destroyed in winter weather. Some other forests go around wrapping all their wood signs in tarps for the winter.

We then start digging the holes for the posts. These holes were about 3' deep and came to be after hitting many rocks. Some of the rocks we hit were removed but a few forced us to slightly move our hole forward or back, redigging the hole. I got to use a new tool today, the post-hole digger! In the photo below Matt (on the right) has it. You put it into your hole and pull the handles away from each other to get a scoop or dirt and you pull it out and push the handles back together to dump the dirt somewhere.

We sunk the posts into the ground and filled them in making sure they were level and about the same height:

Then gouges were sawed and chiseled out for the cross boards to sit in:

Then we drilled holes for everything and bolted it together. Had to make sure things were level so we marked with pencil where the boards needed to be drilled first...

Look at this funny drill with forward grip! I'd never seen a forward grip like that before but the bit on this drill was so long and to get through the 6" of wood it definitely helped to get the force needed to make it through.

It's done! Look how awesome it turned out! These boards get posted with a trail map, fire regulations and other rules and regulations of the area.

Thanks again to Friends of the Inyo! This was such a fun project. Thanks to Matt Losse for the photos too!