Using an A-Frame to trace contours

One of the reasons a sloping land gets abandoned is soil erosion. To arrest this, contours of the land should be determined and rain water run-off impeded across the contour. A simple way to mark a contour line is by means of a home made A-Frame.
The very first stroke of work done on the pointReturn site was marking a contour line. Sangeetha, my cheerful resource person, called yesterday and said Kasey Mitchell, a Permaculture expert was in town. They rode early morning buses and arrived in Muttukkadu. A few days earlier Manoharan and I had knocked together a simple A-Frame.
As its name suggests, it is in the shape of letter A, with a plumb line hanging from the apex and the cross arm carrying a mark to denote the centre.
You keep one limb firm as a pivot and rotate the other until it finds a point at which the plumb line hangs at the centre. You then have two points that are at the same elevation on earth. You now keep the second limb firm and swing the first over to find another level point. Eventually you have a series of points that are all at the same level and you have a contour line.
There are several methods of establishing contour lines, but an A-Frame is the least fussy and most inexpensive of them. Here is a survey of the many simple methods to mark contour lines. For making a very basic A-Frame check this link. And here’s a picture of people at work with A-Frames.
Manoharan and I made one that could be stripped down for loading in the car and quickly re-assembled at the site. We loaded that, lot of water, my now-regular bag for visits to pointReturn containing basic tools, a compass, camera, measuring tapes etc. We also loaded a large sack of 100 wooden pegs to mark the contour points, a hammer and a sturdy steel bar to make holes.
Sangeetha, Kasey, Mano and I zipped down the ECR and after a good breakfast on the way, arrived at the welcoming home of Babu Reddiar, in Peruveli village.
A brief stop there and we were off to the site. As of today, the access to pointReturn is only from Peruveli on the western side of the hill, and it is not an easy one. One drives past the edge of the village and down a mud track which is in a bad state of repair. After a point a car can’t brave it though a bullock cart or a jeep might. The last 100 metres is walked by the hill [- click if you want an image] on a clunky but very enjoyable path.
The approach from Jamin Endathur village in the east is pleasanter but not yet available. One has to negotiate with two people whose properties intervene and that process is on. Till that happens, the road to pointReturn is hard [but who said anything was easy anyway].
Once on the expansive barren site, the mood lifted. There was a great sense of space. The excitement of getting something done was palpable. By now though, it was past noon and the sun was beating down.

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