Shovels glinted in the hot southern sun. Angry heat radiated . The long line of sweating bodies rhythmically scooped and threw the dirt to the side. Dust hung in the still air as thousands of hungry buffalo gnats bit and flew into eyes, ears and noses. "The Man" stood in the shade, invisible eyes watchful behind black lensed glasses, dog nearby, eager for the chase.
No, this was not a scene from the Paul Newman classic Cool Hand Luke, but a hot Tuesday in Burns Park and the folks behind the shovels and rakes were cyclists helping in the post-flood clean up of the River Trail. "The Man" was ranger Ian Hope and Shep was hoping to get a shot at a goose or an inattentive squirrel.
Volunteers from the cycling community pitched to help clean the Arkansas River Trail at Burns Park
Ian speaks to a TV reporter as Shep lobbies for an ear scratching.
This is how the trail looked a few days ago. City crews were able to move off most of the mud with their loaders and sweeper. Our task was to move back the dirt "curbs" that formed to allow the sweepers and blowers to more effectively operate..
Bud Laumer and Jim Britt dug some drainage cuts where the trail-side grade has been raised by the deposited silt.Bud made a good point in that the newly elevated trail-side grade could pose a danger to riders forced to veer off the trail by eliminated run-out space and may also cause drainage issues.
Charlie Roberts of SimplexQ has a remarkable and well-known penchant for neatness, as demonstrated here by his precision raking.
Beyond the park
After a couple of hours of shoveling, I ran by the house for a quick rinse, grabbed my bike, and took advantage of my work visa to tour some more of the closed trail.In short, the area between Burns Park and the Big Dam Bridge is closed, it's a mess, and it should be avoided for the time being. Among the more annoying/maddening problems are the massive swarms of gnats. On the NLR side at this time, they seem to be one big cloud. While they are present in other areas of the trail, their density from the soccer fields to the BDB is daunting.
The gates are closed at the north end of the BDB, Cook's landing is closed, and, as of Tuesday night, no work had been done to clear the area of mud and debris.
While the trail between downtown and Burns Park is clear, some damage is apparent. The posts holding the cable along the trail west of the rock quarry have been undermined and have fallen.
Many folks suffered far worse in the recent floods than those of us here in the Little Rock area, but we will still face a long clean up. Two Rivers Park has re-opened, so riders can again make their way to the west. The rides east of town are unaffected, and there are big doin's at Camp Robinson on Saturday. There are also certain to be more opportunities to pitch in and help. Thanks to the hard working folks who have done so already.
The second river trail clean-up day is officially on for this Saturday, June 13. We will meet at 9:00AM at the NLR side of the Big Dam Bridge. Bring shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows, and any digging and earth moving tools. We will be moving a lot soil this time. The Big Dam Bridge Foundation will be there with cold water, sports drinks, and sodas. If you use and love the Big Dam Bridge, please consider showing up and helping. Pulaski County plans on opening the gate on the NLR side of the bridge on Monday, and there is a LOT of work to be done to get the trails on the NLR side ready.