On Saturday, March 8th, eleven volunteers from a Little Rock Boy Scout Troop led by Eagle Candidate Rhett Gill joined three of the Traildog volunteers – Robert Cavanaugh, Al Gathright and myself – on the LOViT to install two new Trailhead Signs that Rhett had designed, planned and led the construction of for installation on the Trail. Rhett and I had planned this day of installation over a month ago, and, amazingly, it was a perfect day to be out on the Trail.
The Scouts and their leaders arrived at the Crystal Springs Trailhead by caravan at 9:00 am from Little Rock with a 16-foot trailer holding two beautifully constructed trailhead signs. There were six scouts and five of their support leadership, all ready for a LOViT experience. We drove from Crystal Springs west on USFS RD 47 to the Pipe Spring intersection of the LOViT and Charlton trails where we had planned to install a new trailhead sign to assist hikers and bikers at this busy trail intersection. The signs had been completely fabricated, painted, and roofed in Little Rock, with each sign weighing approximately 500 pounds.
At the Pipe Spring location, the sign was to be installed 150 feet off the road near Walnut Creek.to help prevent vandalism from visitors who seem to delight in shooting holes at anything along this busy forest service road. After arriving at the site, the scouts, led by Rhett, quickly attacked digging the two thirty inch holes necessary for installing the signs. Fortunately, the soil in the area was not solid rock, and within 45 minutes, the scouts, using pry bars and post hole diggers, had the holes ready.
One example of the vandalism in this area was that a directional sign post installed last year at the site had one of the five directional arrows torn off and one partially torn off by vandals, who then pulled the post up, then replanted it, turned so the directional arrows pointed in the wrong direction. While the scouts worked on the trailhead sign installation, the Traildogs repaired and reinstalled the sign correctly. Forest Service Rd 47, known to the Traildogs as “Beer Can” road, seems to draw an inordinate number of visitors who enjoy littering and vandalizing, versus those who work to enhance the beauty of this scenic part of the forest.
The next task was for everyone to lift the unwieldy 500 pound sign off the trailer to transport it to the installation site. Twelve willing bodies lifted the sign and carefully carried slowly down the trail to its final resting place. Rhett carefully measured the depth of the holes and the length of the sign legs to ensure it met the standard of previously-installed signs on the trail. All hands lifted the sign, turned it 180 degrees, and slid the two legs into the holes to the cheers of all there. Using a two-sided post level, they leveled the sign, mixed the concrete and filled the holes around the posts. The scouts did the work, while the leaders and Traildogs watched to ensure everything was done safely and to trail standards.
The scouts also installed one of our Carsnite Trail Usage signs next to the trailhead sign to remind users that only hikers and mountain bikers can legally utilize the trail. Then, after a lot of picture taking and hand shaking, we loaded up all the tools and caravanned to to the new Brady Mountain Road trailhead parking area. While three of the scouts dug the two holes for the second sign, the others fetched water from the nearby creek and mixed the concrete in a wheelbarrow for installation of the second sign. Utilizing the same lift and tote process, the second sign slid safely into the two holes, and within an hour, the second sign was leveled and braced into place by the Scouts.
It was a great experience watching these enthusiastic young men working together for a common cause to add these new signs to our trail system. No less enthusiastic where their adult leaders, who have encouraged these scouts to look for projects to give something back to the community while earning their advanced scout badges. I am sure Rhett’s Eagle Badge Evaluation Committee will agree this was a excellent Eagle Scout Project.
We appreciate the US Forest Service supporting this effort by approving the construction and working with the Traildogs to mark the installation sites. This installation is one of the first steps the Traildogs intend to complete in making the LOViT the best designed, best constructed, best signed and best maintained trail system in the state. Without the help of volunteers like the Scouts, our progress toward this “BEST of the BEST” goal will be a long road.
A special thanks to all the Scouts, especially Rhett Gill and their Leader Terry Gill, for a great day on the LOViT.