Grit Blogs > Of Mice and Mountain Men

Mountain Man Road Maintenance

There is a one-lane dirt road that runs from the hard road on Piney Mountain up past my workshop – at this point it has served as a driveway access for two other homes and my shop – then makes a hard right turn and winds its way up the face of the mountain, allowing access to a dozen or so undeveloped properties.  This one-lane dirt road is not maintained by the county; it’s up to the property owners to keep it passable.

It has been quite neglected for a couple of years now and the part above my workshop driveway has become overgrown with little saplings, blocked by fallen trees and rutted deeply by rushing rain water run-off.  It has become so bad that only Cochise and I have gone up there in the past year.  The fellow who owns the parcel immediately uphill from mine decided to do some low-cost road repairs to make it serviceable again.  This is needed because he accesses his property from the top side, not from down by my place.  He has a spot cleared up there where he once planned to build a house on a point that offers some magnificent views – especially in winter when the leaves fall.

He showed up with a couple of helpers, a chainsaw, machete and gas powered leaf blower.  They parked at my shop driveway – because they could not get much farther up the road than that – and started dragging limbs, brush over to lay into the ruts.   

 Road Repair 1
 They cut the saplings off and tossed them in too.  This serves two purposes: by filling in the ruts with *something* they can get a 4 wheel drive truck up the road without ripping the transmission out of it in those places where it is not possible to straddle the rut.  And by clogging the ruts they impede the rain run-off and encourage the silt it carries to settle out and fill in the ruts.

The leaf blower was to blow the leaves from the roadway over onto the brush in the ruts.  It rained the next day and these leaves settled down in among the branches and such, further enhancing the filtering effect.

 Fallen trees were chunked up and either tossed aside into the forest to rot or loaded into the truck to be used as firewood, depending on whether or not it was hardwood: which burns clean and hot, or softwood: which burns sooty and can creosote up your chimney and cause a chimney fire.

The end result is a roadway that is drivable again and will get better through the winter and spring.  All for 8 hours or so of labor and the cost of a little gas/oil mix.