the Brushy Mtn Waterfall or Mudfall?

The Brushy Mountain tunnel on the Silver Comet Trail has been a mucky mess, of varying degrees, for several  years.   We’ve had riders go down in the slick muck and the recent rains, of record intensity,  have washed a lot of mud into the tunnel.   Many of us now just refuse to ride through the tunnel as the passage will leave  bike and rider filthy.   I don’t have the time to clean the bike after these trips nor do I appreciate having my back side splattered with muck.  For the Polk County community there is a negative impact,  many cyclist will no longer make the trip to Rockmart.  Calls to the county have had no results, perhaps because the tunnel is in Paulding County, not Polk?

I miss those trips to Rockmart and some of the road loops that we’d use the tunnel to get there.  Our primary distance route, the Land of Sunsets Century also went through the Brushy Mtn Tunnel. This photo, taken in May 2004,  shows the mud flowing onto the trail.  The problem has gotten much worse over the last six years.    This is really a shame, as it is a beautiful section of trail to ride on, with  jagged rock walls covered with native plants, mosses and ferns lining this section of the trail. 
Summer Solstice 200K
With the third annual Summer Solstice 200K approaching it was time to make a decision.  Either change the route or fix the problem with the tunnel.
Based on recent success with fixing another mucky section of trail around mile-marker 16 on the SCT, I decided to give this “larger” problem a look-see.   On Wednesday evening a few of us rode to the tunnel entrance and I saved off a waypoint marker on my Garmin 305.  I knew Brushy Mrn Road (gravel) passed over the tunnel but I had no idea where this would be as the trail can’t be seen from the road.   My plan started by driving the road and see how close I could get to the waypoint I had saved on my Garmin.     This is where today’s “adventure” began.
My goal was to try and find a way to divert the water higher up the mountain and prevent it from entering the railroad cut and the Silver Comet Trail at the base of the those rock walls.
My plan for finding the tunnel entrance from the road worked well.   I could see the route track from the Wednesday ride and the two waypoints I had set to mark the tunnel entrance and the point I’d have to hike to access the trail.
Hiking to the tunnel entrance was easy.  No barbwire vines or poison ivy.
Above the tunnel entrance I found an existing network of silt fences.   The top of the tunnel entrance and trail below are in the center of the photo.  Not easy to see, the black horizontal bar is the top of the tunnel and gray is trail concrete.
What I also found was  unfortunate. Two large ravines drain into this area. There is already an extensive amount of silt fencing above the tunnel entrance and along a dirt road on the south side, which is likely an access road for phone cables.  There is a bog up the ravine that the current water problem is coming from and the water has channeled under what what looks like a primitive road that had formed a small dam.
This is a photo of the bog that is feeding the waterfall.  The water flows out the channel (lower left of the photo) and under the natural bridge I was standing on.   As you can see from the photo.  This ravine drains a rather large area.  No way this was going to be diverted.  Fortunately, the ravine above the tunnel entrance drains a much smaller area and not a continual problem.
the Plan…
Well, I guess I could have just given up, went home and popped an MG64, but that would be too easy for a webgeek.  I went home and thought about it.
I’m going to get a length of silt fence and see if that will help.  Next stop Home Depot.   Silt fences come in 100ft lengths, they’re not light either.  Humm, I’m an old guy.  Carrying a silt fence + gear around hiking down to the work site ain’t gonna be fun.
So there I am, back on Brushy Mtn Rd, loading up my Camelback with a 2 lb sledge, scissors, snacks, water, gps, etc.  So off I go.  Silt fence and shovel on the shoulder, ouch.  So I decided an a two forked approach.  Slow the flow of water and re-direct the flow along the trail.   I started with rolling up one section of fence (two stakes) and putting it at the mouth of the channel under the natural bridge and a second section across the channel.  That should slow most of the torrents during bigger rains, at least for awhile.   Sorry, no photos.
Next, hiking down to the trail.
It was a much longer hike.  As soon as I had a clear shot, I slid the remainder of the silt fence and shovel down the rock wall.  Phew, that was a relief to get rid of.   Heading east to the next ravine I was able to easily climb down to the trail.  My plan for the trail section was similar to what I did with the natural spring near mile marker 16, which to divert the flow along the side of the trail, not across it.   I probably had about 70ft of silt fence left to do this with.  At this point I could have really used a hoe to create a channel with.  The shovel would have to do.
Here’s what it looks like.  When I left it was actually working and channeling the water down the side of the trail.  It’s not finished and temporary at best. A meager effort, but it might help for the Summer.  We had a good rain tonight so that will be a good test.
Maybe I’ll see ya in Rockmart?
Yes, that’s TomA in the photo.  He showed up after all the work is done.  Serotta:Rick stopped by too, but I missed getting a photo with him.

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