The winter of 2013/2014 for Northern Virginia and much of the east coast will certainly go down as one of the worst for trail building in recent history. Our estimated build schedule was thrown out the door as snow storm after snow storm blanketed our favorite trail. On top of the snow issues we had periods of arctic cold that made digging almost impossible followed by rapid warm-ups that made the ground a soupy mess.
Despite the weather related set-backs, the construction Team of Ironwood Outdoors and Bergrad Trails were able to complete and open all of Project Area 1 (PA1). PA1, the climb up and out of the picnic table area and into Port Charlotte, was originally about 6/10’s of a mile in length. The new segment is now 1.4 miles in length. In addition to the added mileage, PA1 has several board walk features, several rock gardens, a short jump line and a couple of small jumps. Signage at the front of PA1 will warn riders about what is coming and will encourage them to walk sections they can not navigate in favor of riding around them. PA1 makes good use of the original legacy trail by using two sections in the reverse direction to help increase the final mileage of the finished product.
As the weather started turning for the worse, it was decided that the builders would skip from PA1 to PA3. This would allow the builders to keep working while conditions were less than optimal and riders to continue to ride on the long established original trail tread. Although the new trail will ultimately be more sustainable than the old, we have found that in the first year of a new build, the trail tread, without thousands of lap passes on it, is highly vulnerable to frost heave caused by rapid freeze thaw cycles.
PA3 cuts new trail deeper into the heart of Port Charlotte and will increase the overall length of the system by approximately a mile. It will include the longest jump line in the project, several platform jumps (below – with ride arounds) and a nice but very narrow section of hand built trail on some of the steepest side-slopes in the entire Park.
PA3 helps us try and meet our goal of an overall system length of between 14 and 15 miles.
For those wishing to follow the progress of the redesign, a FLIKR gallery has been created. We hope to document construction well this time: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7539745@N05/sets/72157636940846243/
For Facebook Users looking for up-to-date information, the Fountainhead Project maintains its page at: https://www.facebook.com/thefountainheadproject