Road metamorphosis

This summer, my road has undergone a dramatic metamorphosis. Here are a couple of pictures taken in the part that was unburned, but they are typical of what the road used to look like along all its 4 kilometres.

In winter. About as deep as the snow usually gets. All the bumps are smoothed out – it is the best driving of the year.

when it rains after ploughing, or at the start of breakup, some of it can become very icy.

Then it starts to disintegrate.

One of our biggest problem areas we called “The Lake'”. It can be hub deep and very soft in the middle.

The worst spot, however, was “The Boghole.” It stretched for 100 metres or so, fed by springs that trickled beneath the soil from the hillside.

One year no one could drive through for a month.

Huge rocks emerged in different places every year. Volunteers helped me move some of them.

Eventually the road would clear and, barring heavy rains, would become its normal dusty, rutted self.

Then came the fire.

This pocket of spruce was also in a boggy spot.

This, I could live with. Fire is a fascinating part of nature (as long as it didn’t burn my house) and I did not find it ugly at all. But the next time I visited, the danger trees had been filled and piled. The road had also been graded and it was extremely difficult to recognize the problem areas.

And then along came Rob Haley of the BC Forest Service. He explained that only three of the four kilometres to my place was forestry road.

that was the part that used to be the old highway 20. He said that it was very likely there would be run-off damage in the spring, and measures would have to be taken. By looking hard I was able to determine where the boghole and lake had been, and also a couple of lesser trouble areas. They started in an unburned section, ditching to drain a huge puddle: gravel would later be put in it, too. (That’s Rob in the photo. He didn’t want his picture taken but I sneaked that one in.)

The excavator kept ditching towards the highway. It is one huge machine.

The bulldozer came the next day and they started putting in culverts. This was where the spruce had crowded the road.

“The Lake” was tricky. Eyeballing it, it looked as though the water should drain away. Rob had a little tool the size of a phone through which he could look to determine levels. In the end a long ditch was dug to keep it drained. Gravel was pushed over the culvert, too.

Finally they tackled the boghole. It needed major ditching and two culverts placed. The landscape doesn’t look so pretty any more.

Through all this noise and confusion, the range cows were coming home for the winter.

A lot of the hillside above the boghole was scraped away. Now one can see where the water is seeping out. There is no big water source above it, so how it gets there is a bit of a mystery.

The 1/2 km of road closest to my house is on my private property. It had become badly damaged by all the structural protection traffic. Driving was not too serious but the new ruts were so deep I would never be able to plough it, and I am too old and feeble to shovel all that gravel alone. (And I now discovered that I have been stealing gravel over the years from a forestry pit!)

Being private, my road repairs did not come under the forestry budget, but there was a way of claiming for damage caused by firefighting. Rob organized all this for me while the machines were available. They decided the best way to tackle it was to spread multiple loads of gravel.

Followed by a monster grader. This is something I would never have been able to afford to do myself.

And so this is the way the road looks like for now. It will be interesting to see how it survives breakup next spring. One thing for sure is that it is now well exposed to the sun so should dry up faster. It has been graded with slopes to assist run-off. My worry is that, if it’s icy, it will be very hard to stay out of the ditches.

As a postscript – remember the old truck that used to be by the highway? it got burned

Then smashed up by the machinery

So they decided to give it a discreet burial.

4 thoughts on “Road metamorphosis”

  1. We’ll never find your road now Chris!….hopefully some day….

    Just picked the last of the Scarlett runners and thinking of you.

  2. Hi Chris, so glad things worked out for you. This summer must have been quite a challenge for your nerves and again you showed what a courageous personality you are! And over all things worked out for you in an absolutely perfect way! But the courage comes in DURING the challenging times when you don´t know the outcome yet. On top of all you are a gifted artist as a writer, fotographer and painter. I just had to replace a broken glass of a wonderful watercolor of yours from way up North, one of quite a few I still have. Also I love the coloured prints of wild plants, created about 25 years ago. On top of all you are so incredibly kowledgable when it comes to wild flowers in your area and your love for nature is probably the spark for all of your doings. Give yourself a pad on your shoulder for the way you mastered this last summer – love – Alice

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