Sunday, September 13, 2015

Cabin part 14: Rock on: Landscaping

Finally, everything came together at the very end of August, and Dean Berneking (who had done our septic system install) was ready to work on stabilizing our landscape. The photo above shows a before-and-after look at one of the areas that was causing so much trouble; it's on the north side of the cabin. The left-hand photo shows the unstable slope, and you can see the gullies where it was washing out. Each rain made it worse, and we were pretty anxious to get this stabilized before the whole thing washed away. (The right-hand photo shows what it looks like after the boulder retaining wall was built.)

Dean had located some big boulders that we looked at with him in July. On the last day of August, he and his partner, Doug Finn, hauled in four big dump-truck loads of boulders and dumped them in our driveway; the first load is being dropped in the photo above right. Yikes! What a racket. Dean pushed the first batch into a pile (photo at left) while Doug got ready to dump another load. After a total of four loads, this is what we had on our driveway:

The next day, Dean got straight to work. Below you can see him hauling one of the huge boulders in his large, yellow excavator (he also had a smaller, orange "mini" excavator on the job site, as well as a bobcat-type machine and two big dump trucks.) In the second shot, I am looking down on him from the deck. The next two shots show him positioning rocks to create a boulder retaining wall in the area shown in the photo at the very top of this page.

Dean worked placing the rocks, while Doug acted as his "eyes on the ground." It's hard to believe the finesse Dean was able to use in placing these monstrous boulders.

It took all day to build the retaining wall shown here. The ground was shaking and the entire process was somewhat unnerving. At the end of the day, when Dean left, he looked at the massive pile of boulders and said, "If this washes away... don't call me!"

The next day, they set to work on the other side of the cabin. Here, we had a very unstable path that we had been using to walk from the parking area to the lower level, and it was a really miserable, slidey, sorry excuse for a path. Dean built rustic stone steps, held in place with boulder retaining walls.

The photo at the top left (below) shows what the area looked like before he started. The next photo shows what it looked like when he pulled up all the fill so he had room to work. The yellow excavator was in the parking lot at this point, and the red mini excavator was down next to the lower level of the cabin; the two photos at the bottom of this group show the work in progress. You can see smoke where he's dropped a boulder onto another in the last photo; often, there were sparks as the big rocks hit each other.

The next series of photos shows the actual construction of the steps. At first, it was hard to tell what he was doing, but the shape of the stairway soon became clear. The last photo is looking down on the stairway from the deck; the perspective makes it hard to perceive the steps.

Dean also built a small boulder retaining wall next to our walk-out patio area on the lower level, and built a path from the walkout onto the lower driveway. You can see before-and-after shots of the lower level below. And below that, you can see the finished southeast corner, including part of the boulder wall he built on the first day. As you can see, Ian is going to have to do some rock facing to fill in above the boulders on this side (and also on the other long side; it's just too difficult to predict exactly where the boulders will end up).

Below is a series of shots that show the top of the step area, as it blends into the parking lot and entry area. Dean smoothed out the driveway and parking area, adjusting the grade to divert the water into a ditch along the edge of the driveway or into other areas where it won't cause gullies and washouts.

Finally, here's a photo of a phenomenally beautiful sunset that we enjoyed on Tuesday evening (the day that the first retaining wall was built). This was taken from the deck, overlooking the lake. Beer in hand. Life is good.

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