Saturday, November 26, 2022

Trail Maintenance on the North Country Trail - November, 2022

Play video Short Verdion: NCT Trail Maintenance
▶️ Play Short Verdion: NCT Trail Maintenance

The North Country Trail (NCT) is a long-distance trail stretching from Vermont to North Dakota spanning 4,800 miles. Like all long-distance trails the NCT requires maintenance to keep the trail suitable for travel. That can include: clearing blow-downs, mowing, removing low-hanging branches, making and maintaning blazes, and more. The work is done by volunteers who work in association with local North Country Trail Association (NCTA) Chapters. Andy and I have been caring for our approximately 6.5-mile stretch of trail for more than a decade. You can learn more about the NCT and how you can get involved by visiting the NCTA website.

Play video Fall NCT Trail Work - Full Length
▶️ Play Fall NCT Trail Work - Full Length

We have a longer section of trail than most. We have close to a 4-hour drive from the Ann Arbor area. This is why we have a lengthy section we can tackle over a weekend thus making the drive worthwhile. You never know what will be necessary during any trail maintenance session. Sometimes we have encountered stretches of trail with massive blow-downs that require the chainsaw crew to come; sometimes, we seem to spend more time pruning trees and plants back; and once in a while we get through a lengthy section of trail and don’t have to do much of anything. The trail is always changing s there is likely always something that needs to be dealt with.

For this session we broke our work up into three pieces. On Friday we tackled what we expected to be the shortest stretch between Condon Lake and Highbanks Lake (animated map). On Saturday, after a leisurely breakfast, we left Condon Lake and headed sout towards Cleveland Drive and while that would prove to be the longest hike (see this animated map) it didn’t have too much to deal with one notable exception. On Sunday, after breaking camp and again having a lovely hot breakfast skillet, we tackled the remaining trail between 16 Mile Road and the Highbanks Lake side trail (animated map here). This modest section had the highest number of blowdowns to deal with and a seemingly endless supply of volunteer pine tree saplings growing right against the trail that needed to be pruned back.


Photo taken Nov 11, 2022 at 4:22 PM

We try to deal with even fairly hefty trees that have fallen across the trail. Here Andy is working hard with a 36-inch bow saw.

—November 11, 2022 at 4:22 PM.

Photo taken Nov 11, 2022 at 5:36 PM

We were fortunate to find Condon Lake campground completely empty. Last time we were here we had several astonishingly loud and rude neighbors. This weekend we had the place to ourselves except for a few hours when a group of people came by to do some target shooting. On the left is my Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid. Andy has set up an MSR Wng above his Black Diamond Lightning. The joys of car camping.

—November 11, 2022 at 5:36 PM.

Photo taken Nov 12, 2022 at 11:57 AM

Some fallen trees are too wide for our bow saws to handle. But even if it had been a bit smaller I am pretty sure we would have left this tree for the chainsaw crew to contend with.

—November 12, 2022 at 11:57 AM.

Photo taken Nov 12, 2022 at 12:02 PM

This fallen tree required us both to work on it. Off to my right Andy is cutting through too. We are going to remove the section of tree from the trail. Between the two of us we got our cuts done in about 20 minutes. Andy was able to shift the log after we cut it loose.

—November 12, 2022 at 12:02 PM.

Photo taken Nov 12, 2022 at 12:16 PM

Muscle power. Andy is hoisting the log we just cut. He will manage to walk it off the trail.

—November 12, 2022 at 12:16 PM.

Photo taken Nov 12, 2022 at 9:26 PM

A dusting of snow has fallen since we came bafck from dinner at Barski’s and got our fire roaring. My MLD Duomid is glowing wonderfully from the light shed by a Goal Zero lantern. The air temperature is hoving around freezing but we are warm by the fire.

—November 12, 2022 at 9:26 PM.

Photo taken Nov 13, 2022 at 8:26 AM

Good morning. It’s about 28 °F and this is the scene Andy and I have woken up too. Photo by Andrew Mytys

—November 13, 2022 at 8:26 AM.

Photo taken Nov 13, 2022 at 2:18 PM

An occassional snowflake is falling as we deal with the half-dozen blowdown, most within a few hundred feet of each other, on our last day of trail Maintenance. But, the tree behind Ken is too big for us to tackle with our bow saws. Photo by Andrew Mytys

—November 13, 2022 at 2:18 PM.

No comments: