Monday, April 7, 2008

Trail Building: The Highbanks Lake Campground Connector Trail

Photos of most of the participants in the trail building day, April 5 2008.

My first day of trail building is ending. While I've done simple maintenance in the past building new trail was a fresh experience for me. Our group of 17 began at High Banks lake Campground just before 10:00 with some brief instruction on how to use fire takes, Mcleods, and Pulaskis. These fire fighting tools are at the core of the construction of at least basic trails that don't need more elaborate features like turnpikes or steps. We spread out under ever bluer skies under warming
sunshine to build the half mile trail that would connect to the North Country Trail.

We spread out so that we wouldn't bump into each other. I was one of many wielding a fire rake. You use the fire rake to remove the doth that has accumulated on the forest floor. The fire rakers in some ways make the trail the most visible though if all you did to make a trail was clear a path with the rakes your trail would not be nearly complete. I found the work easy as I moved past one orange flag to the next. I could hear other people doing the same thing, others having conversations, the thump of a person using a McLeod in the second step of building the actual treadway, once in a while the chain saw crew firing up the saw to remove a nasty set of downed logs, along with the other sounds around me. It was great fun.

The people with McCloeds would come through after those of us with fire rakes had cleared the basic path. They came through smoothing down the path, shaving it as it were, making a tread-way that will last much longer and attract less debris. The chain saw gang made short work of several fallen oak logs in the way. Brush was moved to make the old social path less obvious. After about 3 hours of diligent work a final few of us went through with boundary white paint to make blazes marking the path for all to see. A glorious new trail was made on a fine early spring day.

The next morning John, Andy, and I would walk down the connector trail to the NCT to do general maintenance on our section (runs from 16 Mile Road to 13 Mile Road, about 6.1 miles of trail). The piece from 16 Mile Road to Highbanks Lake had been done the day before leaving us with 4 miles to go. As we walked down the new connector trail we noticed trekking pole prints. The trail had already been used by the public. I must say it was a gratifying feeling to know that even before the paint on the blazes had time to dry people had found the new trail to the campground and were using it. We even got to meet the couple with their dog as we were taking a snack break. They were quite happy with the new trail and thanked us for our work. It's always nice to actually meet people who appreciate what you are doing.

A weekend spent with friends doing something useful and being thanked by people who actually use the trails: what a wonderful way to spend some time outdoors.
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