Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Mcleod the Tool


Mcleod (tool)

The other  tool that represents trail crews for me, along with the Pulaski I showed in my last post, is the Mcleod, a combination rake, hoe, and tamper. It doesn’t make a big first impression, but it’s surprisingly useful, a mainstay on trail-maintenance and fire-fighting crews. The straight edge is the primary business edge, kept sharp enough to cut through roots; useful for cleaning and grading out a trail. Most hikers don’t notice, but trails are never built completely flat; they always have a slight outslope so that water will flow off the trail. The classic Mcleod is built from a single piece of steel welded together (the oldest ones were built so that the handle could be removed for easier transport, but I’ve never actually seen one of those) and is useful for checking the outslope of your trial; you can just stand it upright, and it should tilt one or two inches to the side, instead of plumb, if the outslope is correct.

Mcleod head with bolt

Mcleod head with bolt

Newer Mcleods, the only ones I’m seeing now, have a bolt at the bottom. They still function for tamping, but you can’t check the outslope on a hard-packed trail with them. Instead you can lay down a water bottle on its side as a low-tech, backcountry level.

A ranger for the Sierra National Forest, Malcolm Mcleod, designed the first one around the start of the century, and his name provides one of the only tool jokes I know:

What is the difference between Mick Jagger and the Scottish people? Answer below the jump.
Mick Jagger says, “Hey, you, get offa my cloud,” while the Scottish people say, “Hey, Mcleod, get offa my ewe.” Ba dum ch.

Somewhat apropos, Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day impresario Carol of May Dreams Gardens has a hoe collection that is very cool, worth a look if you’ve never checked it out.

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2 Responses to “Mcleod the Tool”

  1. August 3rd, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    michelle d. says:

    Totally forgot the name of that tool.
    Used it when I was a State Park Rangerette up on the Mendocino/Sonoma coast to scrape weeds that had grown up through the pavement.

    Loved that job until the Ranger took off all his clothes in front of me while on duty.
    I wasn’t too crazy about that job after that day and left very soon after that.

    Not zesty.

  2. August 3rd, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Brad B says:

    There can be only one.

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