Friday, May 17, 2013

Navigating Our Hill -- The Stairs

Our house site is atop a well treed old a-a lava flow. That means it sits on the edge of a ridge about 100 feet higher than the front of the property. It makes for some nice views, looking down over that land. But it means that the driveway to access the house site had to loop around to crawl up the ridge gradually. It makes for a long trip when walking down to the garden or barn.

Work still in progress. 
It didn't take the dogs long to decide the the driveway was the long way around. Down the hill was the shortest distance between the house and the barn. So in a short time they cut a path through the chest high weeds, making a neat pathway. It looked so inviting. One day, being in a hurry, I took the downhill dog-path. Plunge! Yikes! Lava boulders, hidden logs, unseen holes......and the stemmy snags of weeds that grabbed my feet. It wasn't long before I was flat on my face. In fact, I had the opportunity to closely inspect the ground numerous times. But being rather stubborn, I forged on. Gosh, I must surely have fallen further down that hill than I managed to walk. Somewhat bloodied and bruised, I made it. Gee, that was neat! At that moment the idea of hillside steps was born. Well honestly, a zip line first crossed my mind, but I was sure that wouldn't fly past my hubby. And besides, I had to have a method to get back up the hill. I secretly still harbour the zip line idea, or possibly a sled or slide of some sort. Gee, wouldn't it be fun?  

Since that initial plunge, hubby and I transversed ......actually fought and struggled, up and down the hill numerous times at different locations. We finally settled on the spot for the stairs, which happened to be the site that the dogs chose.

Wacking down the weeds, finding the holes and logs was the first job. Once we got an idea of the lay of the land, the steps just sort of fell into place. They twisted, turned, and flowed down the hill. Of course the job snowballed. would be neat to have a fish pond at the bottom.
....then, it would look cool to have a bridge going over the pond., a stone walking road leading to the bridge would be nice.
....and later, a deck overlooking the pond would be so very nice.

So at this point the stairs are almost finished, the pond partially completed, the deck in progress. But the bridge and stone roadway are done.

To make the pond we used parts from an old catchment tank. We did have to buy sand and concrete to make a base. The stone roadway was made from rock on our own property, and of course we had to buy the sand and cement for that, too. The bridge spans the pond using tree trunks harvested off the hill. Trunks were used for part of the walking path too. The rest is made using exterior lumber, mostly 2x6's and 2x12's.

The stairs are used every day. It was a good decision to put them in. Not only do they give character to the property, they are also very functional. Plus it's good exercise. When I first started using the stairs, I barely made it up them without having to rest my legs and catch my breathe. Now I go up them with no problem at all. See? Good exercise!


  1. Think ski-lift rather than zip-line and you might have a concept for some future project to add to your ever-growing list of homemade projects to attempt. :)

    I saw a post of yours on; followed the link to this blog and have spent all morning learning from your successes and those things that didn't work or had to work differently. The latter is very important to me as we will begin our next chapter on a very similar journey.

    I laughed very hard at your words after you described your "plunge" down the trail; not at your injuries or falling but at your choice of words after the fact; "Gee, that was neat!" I identified it as my response after the fact. During the fact my words are not acceptable in polite company.

    I've also learned that trusting our animals, in your and this case, your dogs, to find the easiest route is a fairly good bet. Their instincts for ease can usually be trusted. Their instincts for what is "best" for them can be questionable. :)

    I love your blog. Thank you! So very much.

  2. Aloha, RH! I like the idea of a ski lift. Surely when the time is right, we aught to be able to fashion a motorized bucket of some sort. But I still like the idea of a zip line for going down. Swish-zoom! Weeeeeee!