Wednesday 20 December 2023

The Making of our Gravity-feed Waterline

    The photo above shows the area of the rocky cliff face that we had to partially shear off, in order to trench our line.  The light colored dirt in the foreground has been removed from the trench which is adjacent and left of the dirt.  In the background you can see Sunbeam Creek, where we placed our upright culvert to capture our water.

In the middle of August in1987 we digging the trench for our waterline.  We cut a small right of way through the Highway’s owned small triangular lot beside Mountain View Road, after getting there permission.  Then Glen my neighbor and I made a start digging by pick and shovel, from the spot on Sunbeam Creek along our route.  It was rough going trying to make a trench along the cliff face through rocks and roots.  Glen seemed somewhat frustrated with our hand digging.

Most people would have gotten a big backhoe up there to make the trench, but I didn’t want a big machine bullying through the beautiful Fir Forest, and besides, a machine wouldn’t have been able to get to our culvert spot on Sunbeam anyway, because there wasn’t enough room for it to sit, and the slope was very steep at the rock face cliff.

Even the 200 foot length of our route from the creek to the switchback was across a steep side slope which would have required a big backhoe to carve out a road that it could sit on, so the right of way had to be done by hand.

In places it was literally digging with my hands, scooping out the soft loam and gravel between the rocks.  I often hiked up to the creek and dug the trench by myself.

Theoretically, a waterline in Central BC should be buried around 4 to 6 feet under the ground to prevent it from freezing, but that was impossible along the cliff face edge of Sunbeam Creek, and through the forest, where underneath the moss was a thin layer of loamy soil in-between rocks, roots, and the odd boulder.  After digging around some rocks, I was able to pry them out, but some rocks were too big, so it meant detouring around them. 

Because of the moss covering the ground, I was never sure what kind of obstacles lay in my way until I got to them.  In some areas I had to just lay down on the moss and dig the trench with a garden trowel.  I could only dig down to arm’s length.  I realized that was not very deep for some of the arctic temperatures we got in the winter, but I hoped that keeping water continually flowing through the line during winter, plus a top layer of insulating moss and snow, would keep our line from freezing.

From my diary:  

“I went digging on the waterline but only dug a length of about 5 feet.  I was digging under a tree with big roots and several big rocks that I had a hard time getting out.  I broke the handle of the pick I had borrowed from John Bird, trying to pry one of the rocks out.”


“After supper I went up to dig the waterline.  I only got 7 feet and didn’t really get that completed because of some rocks, wedged beneath a huge boulder.  I was up there alone from 5:45 to 8:45.”     

    Below shows part of the trench that we dug through the forested area.                                                      

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1 comment:

  1. Good thing you were a lot younger with more energy than money!!!!