June 1: Crew orientation hike (above.) Pemi points the way to Mount Whiteface as Judy, CC, Lev, Emma, Jenny, Pierce, Jeff, and Larry pause for a photo. (SCA crew member names on bold.)
The next day was spent "getting organized" at Mead Conservation Center, where the crew lives when they're off the trail. At right, Jenny, Jeff, and Emma diagnose Lev's "injuries" during the wilderness first aid workshop.
(Whatever happened to those great plans for a crew leader? After screening lots of marginal applications, we decided on the do-it-yourself approach. Each day (except when it rains) the crew is accompanied by one or two adopters or Trails Committee members who attempt to provide some measure of training, guidance, and perhaps even inspiration. So far its working very well, and it gives us old-folks a week to rest up between our weekly play day.)
June 8: The crew is off to a great start clearing water bars, brushing, and more water bars. A couple of weeks should see our 638 water bars in good shape. You didn't tell us it was going to rain this much! Hopefully the acquisition of a couple of boot dryers will help to discourage the rain.
June 15: Lots of brushing and drainage clearing on Square Ledge Trail, and plenty more to do. The last 1/2 mile up to Walden Trail is on a steep old logging road, so the loose gravel fills the water bars to the top every year. The water bars are great, but a dozen sets of rock steps would help to reduce the grade and stabilize the trail. Perhaps next year...
June 22: Enough brushing in the rain, its time to start moving rocks in the rain. Another "training" week begins with rock step and water bar construction on lower Dicey's Mill Trail. Today we start with the basics: finding rocks, gauging their size, moving them up, down, and across the hillside. And yes, actually placing them in the trail, preferably in a useful configuration as part of a water bar or rock step.
June 29: After a long "weekend" (the crew week is Saturday-Wednesday) the crew starts their first week in the backcountry. After setting up tents near the Camp Rich site, the crew spent three days clearing blow downs, clipping brushing, and clearing water bars on Rollins Trail, upper Dicey's Mill Trail, and upper Walden Trail. This week we traded rain for heat: Valley temperatures were in the mid-90's, and only a little cooler on the mountain.
July 6: Time to break out the rigging equipment and learn how to move rocks the easy (easier?) way. While not a substitute for the basic rock skills learned in previous weeks, the hoist does help the work go faster and with less impact on the land. The first project was a brute-force hoist demonstration: Dragging a 18" blow-down off the bottom of Wiggin Trail and breaking it in two! Then we erected a 150' skyline and used to place stepping stones in a muddy area. The available "mast trees" were a little smaller than usual, but they helped to demonstrate that how you set up the rigging is at least as important as the strength of the tree.
Over the coming weeks the crew will concentrate on erosion control work on Wiggin Trail, helping to stabilize some of the many steep pitches with rock steps. A backcountry campsite will also be established to reduce the amount of time hiking to and from the work. (Special thanks to Janet and Ian Cooke for further reducing the hike by letting the crew park behind their barn!)
July 13: The crew has moved 1/2 mile up Wiggin Trail and begun work on the first rock "staircase." Rocks up to 300 pounds are transported to the trial on a skyline, and then lowered to their final position on a second skyline, using a rope and figure-eight descender to belay the rocks down the steep hillside. (Move the cursor over each photo for details.)
July 20: Over twenty people turn out for New Hampshire Trails day, providing a chance to do lots of brushing on Kelley, Lawrence, Walden, and Square Ledge Trails, while restoration work continues on Wiggin Trail. An excellent BBQ supper was enjoyed afterwards at Dick Daniels' pond, including fresh ice cream made on the spot by Martha and John Chandler!
July 27: Work continues on the Wiggin "staircase", now in its third week. By week's end its done, and its one for the record books. With forty-two rock steps, its the largest continuous set of rock steps on any WODC trail. Including the water bars and scree (side walls), over 100 rocks were moved approximately 200 feet from the quarry to their final final resting place. That's enough time in one place - we're ready to move on!
August 3: Another week brings a slight change of scene - 100 yards further up Wiggin Trail. The work becomes more routine: Find a good quarry and start digging up rocks. Find some good trees and erect the syklines: One to move the rocks from the quarry to the trail, and one along the trail for the final setting. By day's end the next staircase has begun.
August 10: The final week! The rocks runs out, so we move the skyline to a new quarry area. Its getting hotter each day, with valley temperatures of eighty, ninety, and even one hundred degrees! But the staircase is done, the tools are packed out, and the sand is washed out of the straps. Now comes the hard part: saying goodbye. This is a drawn-out process involving lots of eating, photos, and shared memories of a great summer. Everyone pledges to stay in touch, and some even promise to come back. An excellent end to a great trail season!
Final thoughts: The WODC and the Wonalancet trails have benefited greatly from the unrivaled efforts of our four crew members: Emma, Jenny, Jeff, and Lev. Together they have battled hobble bush, clogged water bars, and steep, eroding trails, all without a single complaint.
There have also been personal rewards for the ten Trails Committee members that formed the rotating team of "advisors." Peter, Judy, Chris, Larry, Pierce, John, David, CC, Fred, and Evelyn each spent one day a week working with the crew, providing training, technical advice, and extra labor to guide the work towards our long-term objectives.
Although numbers fail to capture the season's true accomplishments, they are still impressive: Over 1800 hours were worked by the four crew members, plus 900 hours by the ten advisors. Volunteers all, this effort espouses the spirit of trail stewardship that is the core of the WODC.
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