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The Bear Issue with Our Spring-fed Water Line

So I’ve done a good job of making sure the water is dripping on the cold nights and so far so good with not letting the lines freeze (since the first time I let it happen this year). But this afternoon my water at the kitchen faucet surprised me with only a very thin stream. Not even enough to rinse out my coffee cup. After a hike up the mountain to see where the problem was, I found that we don’t have a frozen water issue. We have a bear issue.

Getting to the tank

The way up to our spring tank is fairly steep and very rocky. There are deep cuts where floods have gouged the old logging road. It’s a precarious hike in some spots, mostly because I’ve allowed myself to become out of shape. But that is soon going to change because this is going to be my new exercise routine. Starting today. I hiked up there to see why no water came out of the faucet at the house when I turned it on this afternoon. Tomorrow morning I’ll hike up there with a bag of tools to fix problem caused by the bear issue.

And then I am going to make it a regular hike so I’m not so out of breath when I do it anymore. I want to make a better path for going up there, too. Maybe clear some of the rocks and leaves from the places where I step. Might cut some of the saplings out of the way and put their trunks into the gouges so that the water can deposit soil and debris, which will be a passive way to do some back-filling. Hiking up there is an excellent workout for my entire body, actually.

Helping hand-holds

Some places require a hand-hold, and the one spot it’s really necessary to reach out and grab something, there is a nice, smooth, maple tree in the perfect position. There are other trees with a less friendly reception, though.

Don't grab the locust trees for a helping hand.
Don’t grab the locust trees for a helping hand!

A bear issue is no reason to skip the beauty

Never one to resist the urge to stop and smell the roses mint, I stopped to see if this pretty relic still had scent. It did, and I enjoyed taking a break while inhaling its scent.

On the way up the mountain to check on my bear issue, I found a pretty relic mint plant. It still smelled nice.
A mountain mint of some sort. Not sure which species, but it still smelled nice.

Once I got near the bench where the tank sits, there was a lot of water on the ground. When I (accidentally) let the lines freeze during winter, the breaks are almost always lower down the mountain where the lines are exposed. I didn’t see any signs of water in those areas, though, so I kept hiking higher. And then soon I could hear the sound of water splashing on the ground.

Ah-ha. It’s a bear issue.

Then the tank was in sight and I could see the water. That’s when I knew we had a bear issue. You can see his little teeth marks here. It’s right at about the height of a young bear.

That's a bear bite.
That’s a bear bite.

Too high for other critters, and things like coyotes wouldn’t bother. This poly line is too tough for most things to just bite through it. Sometimes squirrels and chipmunks do chew through them, but that isn’t the case this time. Here’s what it looks like when smaller critters chew the lines.

How it looks when critters smaller than bears chew the water lines. This one doesn't seem to be a bear issue.
Smaller critters do chew the lines, too. This is the overflow line that must not have been flowing at the time, lol.

No temporary fix.

I wish I had brought at least some duct tape and a screwdriver with me so I could have put a temporary fix on it until tomorrow. But, I didn’t. So no water at all tonight. Tomorrow I’ll go out there and cut the broken part and splice it somehow. Not sure what supplies are in the tool bag for this part of the line, which is different from the part that usually needs repairs, but I’m sure we have something that’ll work. If nothing else, ha, I’ll use duct tape until I get to the hardware store.

Tune in tomorrow to see the repairs

You’ll get to see how a non-plumber artist woman homesteader-wannabe makes water line repairs, haha.

Next day Bear Issue Update (Thursday)

Roping in some help

A friend of mine was due to visit today and I decided not to tell her ahead of time what I might ask of her. She lives in the city and I was afraid she might balk and not visit at all. But she was game for a hike and provided a welcome assist. Once she made her way back home she sent me this little blurb to share with y’all.

“It’s not often that you are greeted by your friend whom you have come to visit for the holidays with the words:

‘Good! You’re in work clothes. We are going to fix the water line. Bear chewed it through.’

Armed with a small back pack of hopeful repair supplies, we climbed the mountain. I repeat we CLIMBED, nay, scaled the mountain! The old, overgrown logging trail is about a 50° slope. Slipping on leaves and twigs and after several pit-stops to catch our breath we arrived at the tank, but our trek was not over. We climbed even higher to the shut off valve. I stayed out to man the valve on cue while Madison returned to the seat of the problem. I had roughly thirty minutes to commune with nature. Quite! Silence! I drank it all in. The sun was warm even with a chilly north wind. Success! I hear my name amidst the breeze and turn the valve on. I slipped and slid back to where Madison was waiting and we tramped back to the house for a nice cup of cocoa and a nice chat. Next time…a hike to the waterfall!

And that’s how a city gal tackles the wilderness. Move over Daniel Boone!”

Allyssa Riley, Author from Rogers, AR

Only a temporary fix

So, I didn’t have the parts I needed to make a proper fix but at least got a temporary fix on it. The water is now going into the tank. The sound of that stream falling in there was beautiful. Tomorrow I’ll go to town and get the right parts and this weekend I’ll go back again to do it right. I forgot to bring my phone for the camera today, though, so I’ll get a pic of my make-do job on the bear issue on my next hike up. I’m exhausted but grateful for the help I had today. And VERY happy to have water running in the right places again!

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