Wednesday we did some trail maintenance. Although we are on parts of the trail many times during the year, we rarely get to enjoy just walking it. Usually when we see the trail, it is when we are lighting it on fire, or for exotic removal. So Wednesday was the exception. One of the other rangers and I decided to walk the trail through an area we call "Zone 9."
We probably walked about 3 miles altogether. We were checking on exotics to see what needed to be removed when we can get a larger work party out there. And checking the trail condition.
The biggest problem we found is where the trail went adjacent and crossed one of our fire trails. Not everyone would catch the trail where it continued a few yards down, and instead would cross and take an animal trail. The animal trail became so worn that we decided to follow it and see where it went. It was obvious that a lot of people were going down it. And it circled right back to where we were on an early part of the trail. I think it may have frustrated more than a few people who went in circle.
So we went back to the shop and made some posts and signs to direct people on the right path. We did some other sign maintenance while out there.
Later that afternoon I had to go out there one more time and put back up a sign we had taken down to repaint. This time I rode an ATV. Coming back out, I saw an eastern diamondback rattlesnake, about four foot long. It was crossing the service road near the entrance of the gate off hwy. 41. Others have seen the rattles during burns, but this was my first time. So this year I have seen both a panther and rattler on that service road, which is significant for me. I think I have seen just about every type of wildlife on that trail now. Bald eagles, bears, boobcats, panther, rattler, turkeys, you name it and it is there.