Saturday, June 27, 2009

You Haul Sixteen Tons and Waddaya Get?

Trails and steps and a good workout!

This past week has brought the lowest (and highest) tides of our summer -- from a minus 3.2 low to a high of 11.6 feet in one day!

We love peering into the pools at low tide and walking the beaches to see what the tide has left on the shore.

Minus tides also bring the perfect time for hauling rock from one island to the next.

Island 1, upon which our home is built, has massive, craggy shores which are covered in most places with a very thick layer of spaghnum moss and hemlock and spruce needles. In some places this layer is over six feet deep! It is like walking on a carpet.

However, slopes can be steep and difficult to navigate, especially when they are wet. So we decided to make some gravel steps on the steeply sloping trail to the outhouse as well as add a few more steps coming up from the beach.

Since it isn't possible to get a cement truck over to the island and carrying pre-mixed concrete on the boat would be cost and time prohibitive, we're lucky that Island 2 has a long, gentle beach covered with small gravel and rocks and even a sand bar or two.

When the tide is low, it is possible to walk from one island to the other.

We took advantage of these extra low tides to haul rock and gravel for a number of projects.

We've been saving 1-gallon paint buckets for just this purpose, so I headed over to the island with buckets and shovel in hand. A few scoops and my buckets are full.

Then the journey begins. For the first few yards, the going is easy.

Then, walking becomes more precarious as one must traverse the uneven beach littered with rocks of all sizes, often covered in seaweed and other slippery things.

Finally, I'm through the worst part and it's time to heft those buckets up on the ledge of Island 1. This is as good as going to the gym! (Each bucket weighs about 16 pounds.)

Many loads later, the trail is in.

I'm a happy camper!

Then it was time to pour a little concrete for steps on the beach. Our trusty little low-tech "cement mixer" is made with a sheet of metal and some 2 x 6's.

Here's where the first steps are going in.

Al and Jan built some forms using scrap wood left from other projects.

A little rebar goes in to help them survive the winter storm surges.

Then it's time to mix the concrete. Three parts rock, two parts sand, and one part cement make a good mix.

Al and Jan shovel the concrete into the forms and tamp it down.

Let it cure, remove the forms, and we've got steps and a nice smooth platform.

After a number of days of precariously navigating the rocky trail between the island, trying not to sprain an ankle (or worse), I started thinking of a way to make the going easier.

I filled in a couple of the worst spots with a couple of buckets of gravel. Nice! A few more buckets went in and pretty soon I was running back and forth on that trail.

Though I knew the next tide might take it right out, I'd noticed that some of the rock I'd spilled days earlier was still in the same spot, so I felt it was worth a bit of effort.

How many times have I swept a floor just to sweep it again the next day? Or done dishes just to do them again a few hours later? And, how many times have I spent an hour at the gym just walking on a treadmill and had nothing to show when I was done?

I enjoyed my morning workout and am happy to announce that "Avenue A" has successfully survived at least eight tides. Rock hauling has never been more enjoyable!


  1. Annie,
    It's so wonderful to see where you live for the summer and the activities going on. Thank you for sharing your part of the world. The sea life is amazing! And your work out better than Curves as you build your walkways and stairs.
    You are missed in St. George, but I can see why you spend summers on your Island. Beautiful!

  2. Annie,
    You have always put a smile on my face and today's post is no different! Beautiful world we live in, right? Thanks for sharing the photos and thoughts. Enjoy your summer

  3. I beautiful pictures of sea life and the islands.

  4. Ugh! Oomph! Ouch! Yuk! Whoops! OH! Oops! Ahhhhhhhhh! Jane


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