The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Building a trail in the dry


Nearly every morning, Lucy and I walk out to get the mail, then continue on down the road a short piece to the bridge over the creek.  Depending on my mood, I either consider this walking therapy or walking meditation --- it does both jobs, plus waking me up and jump-starting my creativity for the day.

Winter woods

This summer, though, it was just too muddy to enjoy walking through the floodplain.  And I got grumpy.  So when Mark asked to have the month of December to turn the East Wing into a bit more of a habitable space, I started poking at an idea I've had for a long time --- building trails up above the floodplain so I can walk in the dry.

Steep hillside

The first couple of weeks, I just wandered.  There's definitely something joyful about walking off the beaten path, and I wasn't positive I wanted to lose that joy by creating trails.  On the other hand, the non-swamp parts of our property are very steep, and it's tough to even walk parallel to the slope in these areas without slipping and pulling part of the hillside down with you.  Even though Mark says I'm part billy goat, I don't usually go to these areas because it's just too hard to keep my footing.


Beginning of trailSo I eventually decided to make the least intrusive trails I could that would still let me keep my footing.  I started by following a deer trail, then cut out a notch on the uphill side of the path, piling the shovelful of dirt onto the downhill side.  I figure that's plenty of trail for agile people walking single-file, and the trail will surely get easier to follow each time I tread on it.

My goal is to make a one-mile loop this winter, to replace my one-mile-round-trip driveway walk when the latter is too wet to be pleasurable.  That's not as tough as it sounds since about a third of a mile of the route runs along old logging roads.  If you're following along at home is a handy tool that helps you figure out how long each leg of the trail will be.  Maybe I'll have the trail up and running in time to use it to scope out our first wildflowers in March?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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