Another Exciting Ranch Workamping Project: Lake Expansion

Every year we return to Vickers Ranch there’s at least one exciting ranch workamping project that takes much of my time. It usually entails some hard work and learning something new. And it’s always an adventure. This year that was a lake expansion project that was ongoing during our two-month stay. It’s been going on much longer than that, and isn’t quite done yet. But I’ll explain that in a future post.

For now enjoy these photos and another little video I (finally) made about this year’s exciting ranch workamping project. 

survey transit

This isn’t the first lake expansion project I worked on at the upper ranch. And it wasn’t the first time we used the surveying transit. There was that Vickers Lake job where I learned how to install an Agridrain. But this time I got wet. After we had raised the lake level up a bit at Upper Alden, I walked around the entire lake with the leveling rod. That way Paul could check for any low spots by shooting a line of sight from the other side. I got to a spot he had dug out with the excavator, and the shoreline disappeared. I went in up to my waist and worked the rest of the day in sopping wet shoes and pants.

But I’m getting way ahead of myself. Check out the fun time I had doing ditch work in this little video I made over the course of our weeks-long lake expansion project.

Lake Expansion: Ranch Workamping Project Video

What I say is true. All year long, I sit at my computer and often think I’d much rather be out digging a ditch. Well, this exciting ranch workamping project certainly gave me that opportunity. I’m good for another year…

ranch workamping project

Working with heavy equipment deep in forest terrain presents it challenges. This ranch workamping project was no different. We did encounter a rather exciting complication that caused delays, but I’ll get into that with another post and more photos.

How Does Lake Expansion Work?

So how exactly does one expand a lake? And Why? If you can’t hear it in the video, Larry explains how we needed to improve the fisheries on the upper ranch. They’ve been wanting to do it for years, and trying to figure out the best way to do it. Upper Alden Lake, was more of a deep marsh than decent fishing lake most of the year. Being so shallow, the rest of the year it would freeze over preventing water flow to the lower lakes.

lake expansion

Upper Alden is also the lake farthest from the lower ranch, and the most inaccessible. We needed to dam up and divert the stream feeding the far end of the lake. We also needed to deepen a trench get water flowing the right way. Then we needed to build up one side of the lake. And finally, dig a new spillway and diversion ditch.

lake expansion

This meant bringing our the heavy equipment. Which meant making our own road to the job site. Meanwhile, I dug out the hand tools and dug in. Together, we got ‘er done. At times during this ranch workamping project, I felt like John Henry. I swung my shovel, manhandling mounds of mud and grass. All the while, hearing the sounds of the track hoe get closer and closer. I’ll let you watch the video to determine who won.

ranch workamping project

Who knows what my next exciting ranch workamping project will be. Or when we might return to Vickers Ranch. It might be another lake expansion, or getting back to work at Upper Alden. You see, walking our new and improved lake one day I discovered a breach. Water was leaking out the far end in one small spot. I think it can be fixed with a few day of shovel work and sandbags. Of course, Paul wants to get the ol’ Ho Chi Minh way back up there. that’s no easy task, as you’ll see when I explain what happened during this ranch workamping project.

To be continued…

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One Response to “Another Exciting Ranch Workamping Project: Lake Expansion”

  1. Great post Jim. Really makes me miss it out there.

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