Knuckling down

28 April 2012
Anzac Day had been and gone, and it was time to spruce up Great Expectations in preparation for some good autumn mountain biking.

The main focus was on track maintanence and upgrading sections that had deteriorated with time and use. This translated to a fair amount of track widening and clearing off-putting loose rocks from the track.
It wasn’t long before people’s attentions focussed in on one particular corner. The section where stage 1 of Great Expectations had jumped out on to the road, at the slip point was now more or less redundant. The slip had confirmed that, but more to the point, Great Expectations now continued in wide swoops right down to the valley. In future, the short-cut out to the road would be reinstated, but for now, the focus was on inproving the flow of the main track – Great Expectations.

Over two hours, four to six eager workers built up a sweet sweeping berm that would have cyclists spinning down and onwards without a pause.

Totara berm track party April 2012

At the same time, Paul Kilgour led a hardy group in planting out 50 totara around the sunny ridged area of the berm. This would lead the corner to be nicknamed Totara Berm, a name that would stick.

Once the dust settles

23 April 2012
Four months since the big slips, and it’s time to check out exactly how we’re placed. Jonathan went to assess the head of the slip site with committee member Matt Shoult.

Matt on slip edge April 2012

Ok, so they were able to get to the top, but things didn’t look pleasant up there.

Looking down from the top of the slip April 2012-400

There seemed to be a chunk of land cut away at the top that was just waiting to slide further down.
The slip covered about 1 hectare in area, and we had lost 200-300 seedlings and several short sections of track. The track could be rebuilt, and new plants could be put in the ground, but the possibility of another slip occurring loomed large.

Slip top April 2012-400

We realised we needed help. Jonathan phoned the Tasman District Council and sought advice from the experts. Resource scientist Andrew Burton was brilliant. He came out and gave the site a thorough assessment:

“Tree species are required to control the gully and slip erosion processes. Council has available suitable poplar planting material. I would be happy to provide that material free of charge for the purpose of slip planting. … 400-500 plants may be required for the complete area. The planting material we provide is unrooted 1m cuttings that can be put in with a light crowbar so they are easy and quick to plant. Not all of the slip face can be planted because there is nothing to plant into (its rock) and some planting will be required adjacent to the slip area as well”

Poplars weren’t quite what we were hoping for a revegetation project, but the practicalities of controlling a dangerous slip site won out. And besides, poplars would do very nicely in carbon sequestration, and we worked out that once they were established and had stabilised the ground enough, we could come through, thin them, and set in some natives to take over.

On a brighter note, plants in the unaffected areas were beginning to take off.

Jonathan with 2m lemonwood on roadside-400

That lemonwood had been planted three years ago on the edge of the road. It didn’t seem to mind the harsh condititons of roadside life!

And there was even time to tidy up around the Lorax Lair, with Bronnie smartening up the inside of the toilet with a lick of paint in a smart cream colour, making it a salubrious spot to hang out.

Painting the toilet April 2012-400

Havoc at Christmas

28 December 2011

After a great pre-Christmas track opening and plant releasing stint, Jonathan and Bronnie left the Project buzzing and headed back to Wellington for a relaxing Christmas. Desolate at their departure, the rain began to fall … and fall … and fall.

The Rameka valley was one of the worst affected areas.  A slip developed on the land above the main road heading through the Project. It rolled over the road and down into what had become known as “kahikatea gully” and there it gained momentum.

Close-up of Kahikatea gully slip Dec 2011

Kahikatea gully had been well planted out with a huge variety of trees, not least being a number of kahikatea, which had thrived in the narrow cool glutch at the base of the gully. The “midpoint” exit from Great Expectations crossed the gully and popped out onto the road just to the downward side. The slip took out this exit point and the majority of the plantings. It continued its downward trajectory, gaining momentum as it flowed.

What had been a fairly innocuous random stream – sometimes flowing, sometimes disappearing underground, was now a deep gouge all the way down to the Rameka Creek. Grey, clogging silt smothered everything. Random snippets of green plastic plant guard and bamboo plant markers poked out at different points along the way.

Great Expectations bridge swamped with debris but still standing

Blue barrel culvert blow-out Great Expectations

Further down valley, the tracks One Click and Two Click were basically annihilated. Disheartening.

But not for long! Within days, people were eager to be back on their bikes and were talking of ways to repair the tracks.

Reese biking down the slip


Track opening pictures

11 December 2011

Awesome opening to the Rameka Six-Pack! 25 people to dig the tracks, 50 people for speeches and a sausage sizzle and hundreds of people riding the tracks over the weekend.

They really are riding well now, and with 16 km to ride, everyone was happy. Here are some pics.

Karyn and Bronnie DSC_0546 (Large) (Medium)

Karyn and Bronnie were our crash test dummies.

The Pack Track DSC_0857 (Large) (Medium)

The Pack Track is largely on the original Rameka Track. It connects the Rameka Track and Project Rameka.

Marie DSC_0700 (Large) (Medium)

Great Expectations meets Marie’s expectations.

Opening Crowd DSC_0788 (Large) (Medium) (2)

A happy crowd celebrates the opening of the Rameka Six-Pack.

Ricky DSC_0534 (Large) (Medium)

Big thanks to Ricky Ward – track designer and builder.

Martin and Skull DSC_0892 (Large) (Medium)

Martin and friends pass the guardian of the Tomo! Beware!

Track opening this Sunday!

The “Rameka Six Pack” in Golden Bay is being officially opened this Sunday. Everyone is welcome to help polish the tracks off between 10am and 12 noon. Meet us at the top entrance to Project Rameka (Rameka Creek Road, 10 km from Takaka).

At 12 noon there will be a relaxed BYO BBQ, followed by a ride of all 6 tracks… or just a couple if you prefer.

The Rameka Six Pack comprises six different tracks, including the Rameka Track, the Pack Track (new) and Great Expectations (new section just finished). The total length is 15.5 km.

This includes the second part to Great Expectations, which has been built over the last two years over some very difficult terrain, and through vicious barberry. A big thanks to Ricky Ward for the design work, and to Martin Langley (Quiet Revolution Cycle Shop) for organising dozens of working bees – not to mention over a hundred other volunteers. The result is absolutely fantastic!