Chris and I are going to make a start on shingling the Big Easy this Saturday-Sunday (starting at the top).  Machines will do most of the work but if you are at a loose end then txt one of us and we'll let you know if an extra pair of hands would be handy.  If everything goes to plan then a crew of 6 would be perfect for Saturday afternoon and Sunday.  For following weekends we'll put together a roster so that we can try and keep the machines working.  Watch this space...

Hamish - 027 442 6474

Chris - 021 296 5879

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Given that we had a summer-like forecast and several of the weekend crew had flexible Mondays, we did another day of gravelling.  Adrian did dawn to dusk on the digger, Norman did morning duty on the rake until Pete came up after lunch and took over. I did 16 loads on the tractor, so only one more day and we'll have everything above the creek gravelled (except for a few dry bits under the pines if we're short on gravel).

The bottom bit of the track has been pretty tricky to do as there's a lot of ups and downs - a legacy of Greg Leov getting creative on the digger to avoid big rocks.  We can still only get half loads down to the bottom 280m of track but that hasn't cost any extra time as we can dump the other half of the load further up the track.  Still, that means 40 half-loads to get over the big hump, and lots of walking back and forth for the rakers.  Good exercise for Norman and Rex the dog.

Adrian did a great job on the digger.  Ours isn't quite as flash as the 20 tonners that he's used to, but it gets the job done. Still, it's nearly too big for the gravel pile now.

Between runs Adrian did a bit of scrub barring around the 4X track, then brought the tracked dumper down and filled in a few wheel ruts.  +1 for multi-tasking.

By the end of the day we managed to gravel 2 of the last 4 corners near the creek, and Pete dealt to most of the remaining mud.  The track is still really solid once you scrape off the slimy stuff.

There's only 150m of track left to gravel down near the creek and that should polish off the last of the gravel pile.  Hopefully less than a day's work.  After that we'll tidy up the track beside the creek.

We had the PD crew over at Signal today.  They cleared all of the mud off the track where it goes up beside Opoho Creek, so it's ready for graveling once it dries out.  I was hoping to do half day on the tractor and finish graveling above the creek but it was too wet.

Will now have a crack at finishing above the creek tomorrow (Saturday).  If anyone is keen to help with raking etc, flick me a txt in the morning (need at least 1 other person there for H&S).  I'll aim to be there around 9am and will be working from the 4X track down to the creek.  Hopefully it dries out enough overnight.  Will then start graveling up the creek on Sunday.  Hamish 027 442 6474

Wilson and I managed to spread another 7 loads on the track today, then we damaged the hitch on the trailer.  We'll have it going again after lunch on Sunday, then 3 more loads and the track down to the creek will be all graveled.  If you're keen to help with a bit or raking or compacting, pop up after lunch.  We could do with another 1-2 people as there are a few wheel ruts to get rid of.

This is what one of the corners near the creek looked like 2 weeks ago.

Then a bit of ballast...

Then topped off with some clay-bound gravel.

Just needs a run with the plate compactor now.

Wahoo!  We've made it down to the creek.  Just a little bit of patch up work and we've nailed the trickiest bit of the track.  Big thanks to Adrian and Oscar for doing the hard yards today, as well as Pete in the morning and Tony in the afternoon.

It was a bit of a slow start as we needed to replace the hitch on the trailer.  Hayden popped into work and dropped a new one off which was much appreciated.  Pete tidied up the gravel down the bottom of the track prepped the last of the muddy track above the bridge.  Then Adrian, Oscar and Tony gave the track a once over so most of it is now ready for compacting.

Nice to finally deal to all the muddy bits near the creek.

Looks like we'll be about 10 ton short on gravel as we carted some of the stockpile up the hill further than planned, so about 100m of the track under the trees will be without gravel.  Won't be a problem as it stays really dry in the pines. 

The last bit of track to do is beside the creek and we'll gravel it carting up from the LPHS top field. I had a bit of a tally up and there's about 490m to do, so around 2 more days then we're finished!

A couple of days tidy up work and the Big Easy above the creek is all finished.  Adrian and the kids came up on Monday afternoon and we filled in all the wheel ruts that the tractor/trailer made.  Today I gave everything a run with the plate compactor, so with rain forecast tomorrow the gravel should get a decent soaking and set up nicely.  

Adrian polished off the rest of the gravel pile and I took another 3 loads down to do some spot filling.

We knocked in the worst of the ruts and topped them off with gravel.  There's a few soft spots but they should firm up pretty soon. 

It was dark by the time we'd finished with the levelling bar.

Everything has had a good bash with the plate compactor, so hopefully we won't have to touch it for awhile.

The track just above the creek should be sorted for good now.   2 weeks ago it was getting pretty cut up.

Now it looks a lot better.

Next step is to properly gravel everything below the top bridge.  If the weather cooperates, we'll have a crack at that this weekend.

Huge job nearly ticked off... give that man an Emersons. 

The forecast for Saturday is looking pretty good, so we'll have a crack at graveling the very bottom of the Big Easy, starting at the top field behind LPHS and working our way up the creek. Glyn and I will be there from 9am.

With another 310m of track graveled on Saturday we've nearly finished the Big Easy.  If it hadn't rained on Sunday we'd be all done, but can't complain as we've had a pretty good run so far.

On Friday the PD crew came up and we put in several culverts where we had drainage issues - mainly where water was draining to the inside of corners then running out over the track and stripping gravel.  I also got them to clean out the drains and bring some rock up to put over the culverts. 

On Saturday Glyn came up and we topped up the rock on a few places so the tractor and trailer could get through.

Glyn then got to work on the gravel pile at the bottom of the track. 

I did about 30 loads in the tractor.  It was a pretty quick turn around as we could loop back through  some of the short cut lines.

The bottom bridge should have been ok with the tractor and trailer going over it, but I propped the middle just in case.

Wilson came up in the afternoon and gave us a hand to camber up the corners.

Whisky (dog) was in charge of quality control.

By the end of the day we'd almost polished off the gravel pile.  Another 130m to gravel and we'll be done, but it looks like we're going to be 5-10 ton short so will need to bring some more material in.

Adrian and I went up on Sunday hoping to run out the rest of the gravel but it was too wet to use the tractor.  Since we were up there we put another culvert in just above the fish ponds.

We also cleaned a bit of mud from the edges of the track so we can fix the narrow gravel leading up to the bridges. 

So the track is now 95% done.  One more fine day and we'll be finished.  The gravel beside the creek hasn't been compacted yet so it's a bit mushy - hopefully in will fine up this weekend to get it finished.

Wahoo! On Saturday we finished graveling the Big Easy. Over the past 6 years, nearly 2000 hours of volunteer labour has given Dunedin a world-class all-weather Grade 2 trail. If the Big Easy had been built commercially it would have cost around $250k, but with the support of many local businesses and charitable trusts, Mountainbiking Otago has done it for the cost of a proverbial oily rag (quite apt when the digger has broken down).

We started the Big Easy back in 2010 when we brought a small 3 ton digger with the assistance of several charitable trusts. Greg Leov and I (with a couple of cameos from Ben) formed the track during 2011-12. Climbing 300m from Logan Park HS up to the monument, the Grade 2 (Easy) track ended up just over 6km long. Since then we’ve installed over 50 culverts, built 20m of bridges and 1 retaining wall

We also helped to excavate then fence the historic Opoho fish ponds (which we accidentally rediscovered). Thanks to Matt Schmidt from NZ Historic Places Trust and Fish & Game volunteers for helping turn this into a great little attraction. Here’s a link to a press release about the ponds if you’re interested. F&G press release

Big thanks for initial funding go to Southern Community Trust, NZ Community Trust, Lion Foundation, Air Rescue Trust, DCC, Southern Victorian Community Trust, Otago Community Trust, and the Bendigo Foundation. Between them they donated over $33k which paid for the digger, fuel, culverts and retaining wall.

Once the track was rideable, we started weather-proofing it back in 2012, first laying rock up Opoho Creek. We then started laying recycled road millings from the top down in 2014. Thanks here to Glyn and Arian who have been chief gravelling coordinators, as well as Mike who has spent many hours patching holes and keeping the track rideable. All up we’ve used 730 ton of road millings (donated by Downers) and around 300 ton of gravel (donated by Blackhead Quarries). Chris Gough from Mosgiel Mini Digger Hire has donated many days of machine time, and Porter hire and Doug Hall have also leant us gear.

We've had a busy week racing to get things done while the weather has been treating us well.  Adrian Ruthven helped on Thursday to truck some extra gravel over from the quarry as we needed a bit more for beside the creek.  Doug Hall generously leant us his little 4WD tip truck so we could get gravel right to the bottom of the track. 

With lots of people using the track, the top field behind the school has gotten pretty cut up, despite the rock that we laid last year.

While we had Dougs truck, Adrian gave this a good coating as well.  It's a bit soft at the moment with all the rain we've had, but it should firm up pretty quickly.

On Friday we had a PD crew doing tidy up work by the creek in preparation for graveling.  They did a great job cleaning out drains and installing another culvert.  They also topped up the gravel where it was all off camber up by the bridges, so this keeps the trail at Grade 2 spec.  Below is a before picture.

And now it's nice safe (and easy).

This is my favourite bridge as it's curved, cambered and slopes downwards at the same time.  It fits in with the trail really well, and it can take the tractor and trailer which makes the graveling turn around easy.

The next bridge down gets you off the island in the creek - I'm pretty sure the island was formed to provide water for the fish ponds.

On Saturday Adrian Robinson spent the day helping to finish the last of the graveling.  I did 20 laps in the tractor which kept me busy.  We decided to top up the gravel around the fish ponds as well so we needed another 10 ton.  Adrian whipped off to Hirepool and grabbed a small truck and managed to bulk another 30 ton over before they closed, so that will give us some extra for maintenance.  Thanks again to Blackhead quarries for the material.

Adrian then jumped on a rake for the rest of the day, joined by Wilson later on.  At this stage we were just up to the fish ponds.  Next time we fence a site of national significance, we'll put the fence a little further back as I managed to clip one of the posts with the trailer. :-(

This is one of the short cut lines, and is part of the original walking track up the creek.  The stone steps were used back when the ponds were in operation, so please take care around them as I've already had to put the top stone back in place.

We finished up around 5pm just before it started raining, so now your trip up the creek should be sans mud!  It should also be quite a bit smoother as we've covered all of the big rock that we put down a few years ago.  This is an example of before:

And this is after (with lots of rain going on):

The track is a little soft in places, so please stay off it for the next couple of days.  When it has dried out a little we'll give it another run with the plate compactor. There's only a small bit of track that isn’t gravelled now but it’s dry as under pine trees.  We'll do this in the summer when we can get gravel up the 4WD track again.

Lastly, if you use this track, please consider becoming a club member, as it helps us both financially and when it comes to applying for grants and lobbying the DCC. 

Adrian and I had a tidy up session this afternoon.  Mostly unloading the box trailer (which has become a bit of a mobile dumping ground), and stashing all the tools/cones/barriers/signs/spares back in the garage.  We smoothed off where the gravel pile was at the start of the Big Easy, and then ran a bit more gravel onto the track across the top field to fill in the wheel ruts. 

Unfortunately it rained just as we were putting out the gravel, so we haven't compacted it.  We'll leave it to wash out, then when things are a little drier we'll compact the gravel into what's already there.  Should give us a nice clean surface, but it may be a bit sloshy to ride until we get the compactor onto it.

Everything has settled down quite well up the creek, so get out and ride it.  There are a few soft spots which we'll deal to as needed.  Next items on the to-do list are tidy up work at Forrester Park, and more planting of sign posts.

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