I had some time to work on the steps and put in a solid four hours on Friday. At the start of the day, four steps were in, and the space for the next step was more or less dug out and ready to go.
I decided to employ the six inch tall frame I had made as a guide for carving the space for the next step out of the hillside. Because the hillside was getting very steep and there would be lots of dirt and rocks flying, I thought digging a few landings in the dirt would keep the previous step a little cleaner and minimized the amount of dirt that found its way into it. So I leveled the frame and started hacking on the hillside.
Lots of dirt came down and pretty much buried the frame, but I was able to mark where it sat, lifted it out, and placed in at the level of where the next landing in the dirt would be. Then it was all ready for the next go at the hillside.
The frame took quite a beating on the next step-digging. I hit a big rock that seems too big to move, so I chipped at it with the pick. The pointy end of the pick worked quite well for this, and the species of rock made it not too tough. I think it is granite, but barely pulled a C in Geology, so am not too sure. It flaked and chipped relatively easily depending on the angle the pick struck it.
After digging out for the two steps, it was easy to clear out the dirt and get started on the fifth step. Whereas we were bringing dirt in to fill for the first steps, now I am carting dirt out by the bucket load.
I also cut away some of the dirt beside the space for the steps in the process of leveling for each, this in preparation for contouring the dirt away from the steps for rip-wrap and erosion control.
In the next picture you can see the leveled pea gravel and how the block sits on it. I started putting the blocks down left to right with the fifth step. It was somewhat easier, but the leveling and getting the riser height as close to six inches as possible was a little frustrating. The two steps I put in came out well though, and it was worth taking the time to get it right.
I got a couple of five gallon buckets of sand from a sand and gravel place that lets customers fill their own buckets for $2.50 each, plus tax. I rinsed the sand in with water to fill gaps in the rocks placed thus far, and hoped some would even get down to the pea gravel to fill the little gaps there too.
Part of the process I am following includes wetting the dirt where the next step is going to go and compacting it with a block plus walking around on it. You can see some of the sand and the moistened landing ready for pea gravel and the sixth step.
Here are the six steps that are in so far. No work happened over the weekend, but I hope to get some time during the week to finish the next two steps.