Happy to say I went an entire stint in the Kalu Yala Valley without illness or a poisonous sting. Aside from the occasional mosquitoes and ant bite I had a productive time working on and maintaining the trails near camp. My days were spent in a constant routine. First, I would wake up with the sun and maybe read a page or two from Malcolm X’s autobiography, then I’d eat breakfast and mosey on over to the tool shed for 9 inch cuts of rebar, 15 inch boards, a 5 gallon bucket, hand mallet, pickaxe, and the square shovel. There would be one other person with me to help carry all the equipment. We’d pick a location that we felt was in most need of stairs then awkwardly hike the trail with all our goodies in hand.[singlepic id=5740 w=320 h=240 float=none]
The process of stair building is fairly slow. First you determine where you would like your stair by lining the board on the hill in the way you want it, then you grab a piece of rebar and place it several inches to the left and right of the center. You then nail the rebar in the ground with the mallet several inches into the earth. Next, you throw a machete at the first lizard you see. Just kidding, I was checking to make sure you were paying attention. Anyway! You take your pickaxe and begin rock harvesting off the trail. Pull up big rocks and smash the to smaller fragments to use as gravel or boarder walls to reduce erosion caused by weather and foot traffic. At this point you get to bust out the square shovel and start digging up some earth off the trail. Lay down the rocks on the uphill side of the board then cover the rocks with several inches of dirt that you pat down as much as you can with the mallet. You repeat this process several times until you have a bombproof stair. It’s a tedious process but the results are satisfying.