Work Day: October 17 — Stepping across the Grand Canyon

Building stepping stones to facilitate crossing at high water

Ever wonder who moved those giant stones onto trails to form steps and stepping stones? Was it Hercules? Was it the Titans? Or was it just done during a period when gravity was turned way down? Wonder no more. Over the ages, mere mortals have done wondrous things with rocks, including right here in Norwich!

On October 17th, 2021 six stalwart Norwich Trails volunteers set out at 8:30 to improve the safety of crossing the brook at the bottom of Norwich’s “Grand Canyon” on the upper Ballard Trail during conditions of high water. The area of this crossing received its mock-grandiose, tongue-in-cheek name from Bill Ballard, himself.

The crossing previously had a stone structure that fell apart due to a combination of high flow and ice events. The task was to create stepping stones that were high enough to allow for passage during high flow, yet presented enough aperture between stones to avoid impeding that flow. Also of consideration, was to prevent erosion of the banks, owing to the new placement of stones.

The crew got its feet wet, looking for and emplacing the best available material for making stepping stones that would be elevated above the stream bed. They also lined the bank with stones at the site of the crossing to mitigate possible erosion, supplemented with smaller pieces, crushed on site.

Nick Krembs provided the crew with some delicious pumpkin cake to keep everyone “firing on all cylinders”! The work took four hours and involved the use of iron bars, a mattock and shovel, and a maul.

The crew (minus John McCormick, who took the picture)

The crew comprised:

  • Jim Faughnan
  • Bob Fisken (with Bela)
  • Peter Griggs
  • Nick Krembs (work leader)
  • John McCormick
  • Gerry Plummer

Story and photos by John McCormick (with Stephen Flanders)

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