Sunday, November 29, 2009

Core Rocks and Face Rocks

On good days, I get to balance my computer work with some trail work.   This trail was precariously located on the edge of an unstable and eroding slope before I moved it upslope and shored it up with a rubble wall. 

Working with stone is so satisfying, especially because it balances out too much time spent in front of the computer.   It's really grounding.  I've always wanted to work on a trail crew (a la Gary Snyder and Jack Kerouac)-- I thought I'd missed my opportunity after I turned 30 and no longer enjoyed living out of a backpack or my truck.   Nay, these days I get to work with stone and enjoy my recliner. 

The secret to a formal stone retaining wall (and to a lesser extend a rubble wall) is knowing how to use face rocks and core rocks.  Face rocks are the first large stones you place, some of which are buried into the soil below, which lean into the slope.  Core rocks are smaller stones that you fit behind the face rocks, Tetris style. 

Some face rocks are headers, and they extend into the core rock.  Others are spreaders, which are parallel to the length of the wall.  Tier by tier, face rocks backed by core rocks. 

There is something alchemical about working with stone.  Somewhere deep in my mind, a new philosophy is growing that has something to do with face rocks and core rocks.  Maybe also something about keeping your spreaders to a minimum.  Not sure yet, but it's reorganizing my brain, shoring up the slippery slope of consciousness with quartz and granite.



Jon-Dog said...

Cool rocks, man. You've also employed a little bramble there below the wall. Beaver-style. BTW, How long did this take? This looks like about eight hours work to me...

Ryan said...

thanks man. Hamster-style, actually. the brambles are covering a layer of gravel spread over the original eroded trail. I did it in two afternoons, about 6 hours total. but when you include the rock gathering and the contemplation, it's closer to 8!

Anonymous said...

I like the insights on working with rock. Very cool.