Trail Care Day

11/03/2015

It was a damp and chilly start to the October build day, with a rainstorm ending only hours before trail-day was set to begin we were worried about how much help would come. Thankfully many of you are passionate enough about trails and giving back to the community that a few grey clouds didn’t get in your way.

The main project of the day was armouring low spots at the AF connection to Hilton Fall’s Five-Bridges trail. This location has always been home to a muddy mess after just a small amount of rain. In the pre-HAFTA days a thoughtful forest user had attempted to fix the mud patch with some armouring – Unfortunately their fix was narrow and bumpy so people simply rode beside it creating an adjacent mud patch. On the 25th of October, in an attempt to stop erosion, the old armouring was torn up and replaced with a wider and smoother version. Hopefully the new design will catch all traffic and prevent the mud patch from reappearing.

Since the turnout was good(about 15 people) we were able to split into two different groups, the second group was given the task of fixing some deficiencies on the Christmas trail. The first involved removal of some fallen trees and in particular the Muskoka Dreams sign which had some surprisingly large nails underneath it. If you were particularly attached to the sign and like to ride Christmas trail in the downhill direction it should appease you to know that the sign was replaced with a roller which should be safer and last much longer.

After we replaced the old sign on Christmas trail, the group headed over to the long rock-face, where a fractured ramp covered in ratty wire was being used as the alternate line. In the past we had tried to remove this ramp entirely, it really was nasty, but some riders kept re-installing it so we decided to give these people what they wanted! Maybe they have really low bottom brackets? At any rate a new ramp was created out of rock and should provide years of fun.

The last project took place at the bottom of the rock face on Christmas trail. Among other parts, this trail section is one of the last bits to dry in the spring, so we began the armouring again. It was a labour that took the majority of group b’s time with their leader pleading “Just one more rock.” I have a feeling we’ll need to visit the Christmas trail again, but for now we’re onto our next project which will take place in the Mahon tract. Looks like we’re finishing a boardwalk that was started a few years back. Stay tuned and please come out to help keep the AF awesome!

Beer o' clock

Out of sight in the night out of sight in the day, Lookin’ back on the track gonna do it my way. Come join and make trails!

 

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Wild Parsnip

08/20/2015

EDITOR’S NOTE: Some of the plants reported to us are definitely not wild parsnip, but we recommend educating yourself as finding wild parsnip in the forest nowadays would not be unlikely.

Many of you are familiar with poison ivy, but recently we have a new species popping up in small batches – Wild Parsnip. Some theorize birds are spreading the seeds and the loss of canopy from the ice-storm has allowed this shade intolerant species to gain a foothold in many areas this year. Regardless of how, this plant has been reported in the AF and it is a mean one. We take these reports seriously. Wild Parsnip comes from the same family as Giant Hogweed and will leave you with bad burns if the leaf oil gets on your skin.

“The chemicals in the plant that cause this problem are called furocoumarins. When absorbed by your skin, they’re energized by ultraviolet light, causing a breakdown of cells and skin tissue. This leaves you with a red, sunburn-like area. (Don’t think you’re safe on a cloudy day – you can still get burned since ultraviolet light is present even on cloudy days.) Once exposed, your skin will turn red within 24 to 48 hours. In many cases, after the skin reddens, blisters appear–some of them pretty big. Sometimes the area that was burned takes on a dark red or brown discoloration that can last for as long as 2 years.” – Source

“If one should come in contact with wild parsnip sap, you should immediately cover the exposed skin to prevent the reaction to sunlight (but the area will remain sensitized for about eight hours). The contact area should be washed with warm water and a mild soap. If exposure to sunlight causes a burn and blisters to develop the affected area should be covered with a cool, damp cloth to help relieve pain. The blistered skin should be kept out of the sunlight to avoid further burning. If blistering is severe, see a physician. There is no cure for parsnip burns; however, a topical or systemic cortisone steroid may relieve discomfort.” – Source

“Vampire syndrome, I’ve named it. Because you can go out at night and do what you want, but during the day you have to hide because the UV rays will burn you,” “All of the sudden you can’t go in a boat. You can’t go canoeing, really. You have to stay totally covered up all the time because you don’t want to set it off again.” – Source

Please note not all plants will be fully grown or in bloom as shown in pictures. The leafs are not all exactly the same either. The plant has a very pungent odour if you crush a leaf or stem. Do not attempt to remove this yourself and stay on the trail!

Random fact: This plant was introduced to Canada by European settlers as the root is apparently edible(disclaimer: Do your own research there!!)

Here are the reported locations and a handy guide:

 

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Loose ends

07/07/2015

We’re not just out there on official trail days, things are always going on in the forest and thus some recent work had to be done on Island Run. Like a giant mouse-trap this tree had fallen and wedged itself against three other trees all of which were half rotten and threatened to break at any moment. Membership helps to cover the cost of operating the tools required to fix these important trail issues. If you see something unsafe, let us know(we’re on Facebook, Twitter and check  e-mail).

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