Per my usual in times of stress, I've been finding some physical work to do outside. It's always been something my overactive brain appreciates and craves -- when my body says "shut the hell up and work on this." It's also often a way to ease into a higher understanding of a problem, or creative work I'm sorting through.
So, I've been weed whacking like crazy, planting, trail tending, and building steps into a steep hillside above a creek. It's a problem spot that is typically overrun with poison oak (thus the calamine lotion stuck to my cheek right now,) and is a combination of rocks and loose soil. Usually, we just go around it, on an established trail upstream.
I figure I'll share this as a "creative journal entry," as it's where my creative mind has retreated for the time being. And, some of you might doing exactly the same kind of thing.
I'm not quite done, I still have some work to do to finish the upper ones, when we're able to return to the site. I'll update this post with finished photos soon. Here's what I have so far.
The step design is like two heavy ladders laying on the slope, except for the rungs are set vertical, about 90 degrees from what would be flat. I considered building conventional wooden steps with stringers, but didn't like the idea of snakes or even poison oak lurking underneath, and I prefer landing my feet on the earth.
After framing them up, I pounded in several 24" pieces of rebar, to hold them to the hill. Then, I piled tons of jagged rocks (there are many nearby) into the cavities, until close to level with the top edge of the board. Next I scattered a few shovel fulls worth of sand (from the ground below) on top, letting it settle in. It managed to create a very sturdy step. I imagine I'll need to add a little bit now and then as it settles more.
With the help of a dear friend, we heaved up a very very heavy "keystone" to level and create bulk on the landing between flights. (Big thanks Rosemary, Sean and Larry for their contributions!)
The trail above is narrow, and in the interest of disturbing the least amount of hillside, I kept the steps narrow, too.
We must, after all, choose our steps carefully.