There are stretches along the property line I was hiking that will require more tools and enthusiasm for clearing than I had brought along with me on the trek that day. Mostly this is due to the whole trees that have come down from the ice storms of last winter. They make an impassable tangle right in the way, and I must hike around them for a bit before returning to the property line. By and large, though, my hike was unchallenging. Each time we walk the perimeter, we do a little more clearing work, and it is beginning to be apparent. There’s lots of work to do, but it’s evident that a lot has been done too.
Half of our southern property line runs through the trackless forest, but the other half is well defined by my neighbor’s fence. (I assume it’s his fence. Maybe it’s mine. I don’t know, actually.) The stretch we marked with the fence posts is in the first half. I’ve gotten to know it pretty well, and as I marched from post to post, I had a good sense of where I was and how much farther it would be to the beginning of the fence. I would pause here or there for this or that, but I wanted to cover a lot of ground while at Roundrock that day, so I didn’t linger very long in any one spot. I did get to visit the Old Man of the Forest, which was sitting just a short diversion from the line. All along I was tying fresh survey tape to the posts. As I said in yesterday’s post, I don’t claim my markings to be the true line, but anyone wandering the woods will not be able to miss them and know that I’m paying attention.
After crossing the creek at the point where it finally re-enters our property, I started up the hill that is the north-facing slope. Crossing the creek was always the point where we got disoriented when we were defining the line originally. As I went up, I could no longer see any posts or fluttering tape. I was pretty much looking in the wrong place. When I crossed the creek, I got disoriented again, and after a moment of reflection (without the rambling part) I looked more to the south and spotted the line of posts again. From here is was a short, relatively open walk to the fence line. There were a couple of spots where I had to divert from the line, but I made my own improvements along the way, and, barring more ice storms that will bring down whole trees, we should have a clear, open trail along here in a couple of years.
Once at the fence, my way was obvious, as you can see in the photo above. (In that shot, I’m looking back from the way I came. Roundrock is on the right, and that open area is the access my neighbor has maintained since before I was in the neighborhood. That’s a little bit of lingering snow you see there at about 10:00.) I continued cutting to clear a path on my side of the fence, but as I went along, I noticed that my neighbor had been doing the same thing on his side of the fence. Scrub trees and even long branches from my trees that reached into his access lane had recently been cut and cleared. When my neighbor to the north did this some years back, he threw a lot of the cut wood onto my land, which is no big deal but which seems a little discourteous. For this south-side cut, though, I couldn’t find a single twig of cut wood on my side of the fence. Whatever he had cut he had hauled away or threw into his own forest.
All this, of course, leaves me paranoid. Why is he doing this work? Is he planning something? Is he going to build a subdivision of McMansions or establish a hog farm? A hunting club? What?
He’d done this same thing about five years ago, and nothing came of it. Or rather, he kept his access road clear and that was all he must have intended to do. There was no sign of any other activity on his side of the fence. Even the tire tracks his truck must have left in the grass were long gone. As I hiked along the fence, I could see the point where his own enthusiasm had stopped. The trimming work ended abruptly at one point and didn’t start up again for the rest of the portion of the fence I hiked. I felt a kindred spirit with the man.
I guesstimated that I had reached the point that Libby, Adam, and I had reached on our earlier hike from the other direction, so I left the property line and headed north into my woods. (I consider my perimeter hiking duties finished for the year now.) Somewhere ahead, down the hill, was the dam, and past that was the shelter tarp overlooking the frozen lake. It was there that I would enjoy my lunch and a nice break, and it was from there that I would begin my hike back to the truck, going up the Central Valley along the dry creek bed.
- Adult winter stoneflies may be seen along streams.