Work of a day leaves lasting legacy

Bridge-building volunteers put Patwino Worrtla Kodoi Dihi on the path

A place to connect

Dan from Vacaville loves running in opens spaces. He spent the morning drilling beams into place, and positioning kickplates for the horses. “I figured I might as well help,” Dan said. “Because I use trails all the time.”

Matt is from Montana originally. He came to Solano County through Travis Air Force Base, and though he plans to move back to Big Sky Country someday, this morning he showed up and carried a beam three quarters of a mile for the cause.

Monica and Isabella, of Suisun City, were out the previous weekend cleaning up trash on Grizzly Island road. Now they were at a new space, pursuing a new challenge, collaborating with Colleen to gather rocks and ramp them from the bridge to the trail.

They all gathered on Saturday April 24th to build a bridge. And in a few hours of work, they achieved a feat that will benefit future visitors for years - and that carries forward exciting work on the land you’ve helped protect.

In the land trust there are years of careful planning, assessment, and follow-through, and then there are days of prodigious production. On productive days, you’ll find volunteers like these.

The bridge at Patwino Worrtla Kodoi Dihi crosses a rock-strewn seasonal creeks that channels downslope towards Rocky Road. It connects the vital all-mobility loop trail. Lands team members Tim Malte and Jordan Knippenberg, and the designer of bridge John Aranson, assembled the footings earlier in the week. Like any project on this property, work must be done not only with a mind to future uses, but past legacy. A cultural monitor from the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation visited to confirm the location was appropriate. 

Working with what’s at hand

While Dan, Jordan, and Matt secured the beams with power-drills, much of the labor was of an ancient type: gathering rocks, loosening them with pick and pole, and settling them into place. The job requires mix of small stones for fill, flat ones for even footing, and big rocks for border stones. Geologically, the area is part of the Sonoma Volcanics, and the results of ancient eruptions make rocks easy to come by, if daunting to move.

Both the Mayo Clinic and The Corporation for National & Community Service associate volunteering 100 hours annually with longevity, lower rates of depression, and improved overall health.

But the pleasures of volunteering in a beautiful place are instantaneous: problem-solving, exercise, collaboration, the fun of trying something new, and the related fun of discovering you’re good at the new thing.

“These two,” said Colleen, pointing at Monica and Isabella as they worked the rock wall. “Professional engineers.”

More work will follow. A few yards of road base will cover the rocks to ease access for horses and wheelchairs. But the big before-and-after happened that morning.

When work concluded, the group signed their names on the beam of the kickplate. Then they flipped the beam over and the names vanished.

Today happened because of everyone’s effort; tomorrow it will be everyone’s bridge.

Another volunteer day to work on a bridge at Harmonia Trail will convene May 22nd. Check the events calendar for details.