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View Full Version : Hancocks Bushwhack - Skidder Questions



Becca M
11-20-2010, 09:56 PM
Is it at all possible that the many parallel skidder paths on any of the sides of N & S Hancock intersect with at least one main feeder line? I am hoping maybe someone, somewhere, out there has explored???? There seem to be NO maps anywhere of the skidder paths, even tho those maps must have existed at one time???? (I'm not talking about the logging RR's).

I am especially interested in anything from the east/southeast of the usual summit loop, thinking that maybe there's a way to go up a main skidder/feeder road from that direction?

I will check google earth as well....

ANY help would be appreciated!!! THANKS!!!!

RoySwkr
11-21-2010, 06:01 PM
I'm not sure there were ever maps of the skid paths as in days of yore they were probably laid out by eye, but they certainly all led down to the RR where the logs needed to go

I have been to both E Hancock and SS Hancock so I can say that none of the paths are obvious by the time they hit the ridge, but have never explored the SE basin between

My question relates to the skid path that the S loop follows briefly before it leaves uphill to the R - does that path go close enough to the col to be a good route?

Becca M
11-21-2010, 08:30 PM
I REALLY find it hard to believe that there was no documentation of the skidder path locations during their creation and use. What company (especially during this period of industrial development and efficiency) would not have meticulously listed the strategy and sketches of these routes - at least for private use???? It just doesn't make sense. BUT, I can believe that few (if any) have survived to this day....

cushetunk
11-21-2010, 08:49 PM
I'm not sure that there would have been detailed skidder maps, because the technology wouldn't have allowed for an accurate map anyway. Nowadays it is easy to walk the roads with a GPS, and make a useful map. Prior to that technology, the map wouldn't have been useful to anyone. If you weren't using the trails, you didn't care. And if you did use the trails, you didn't need a map that was less accurate than your own personal knowledge of the terrain.

dr_wu002
11-21-2010, 10:48 PM
There's a pond to the South of South Hancock... I believe Steve Smith has gone there a few times. I went looking for it once but got sidetracked going up Mt. Huntington instead.

SE/E of Hancock is mostly the horrible Captain area. Probably the best person to ask is the rumored deceased NH_Mtn_Hiker as he probably has gone through there a bunch of times.

Most of the skidder roads seem to be on the North part of the mountain (N of NW Hancock). I've always been interested in what I've heard was a log flume that goes up North Hancock and is very visible from say, Bondcliff. The skidder roads are incredible obvious looking in that area from a lot of view points but once you get on them they probably get old quick. I remember slabbing around on Northwest Hancock and it was easy enough to hunt around without looking for logging trails, especially once you hit the Cedar Brook Slide.

-Dr. Wu

Lou Hale
11-25-2010, 01:13 AM
I REALLY find it hard to believe that there was no documentation of the skidder path locations during their creation and use. What company (especially during this period of industrial development and efficiency) would not have meticulously listed the strategy and sketches of these routes - at least for private use???? It just doesn't make sense. BUT, I can believe that few (if any) have survived to this day....

I'm going to guess you have never participated in logging activities before, and I'm not trying to be insulting by saying that. Unless we are talking about two different things here there was never a need to do any sort of lay out on a skid trail and skidding of logs would not have been done by anybody with that sort of knowledge anyhow. Its a very simple task. The logs are here and we need them there.... which was usually down hill. It would be like documenting the precise path needed to mow your lawn. The men knew their objective had a reasonable knowledge of their surroundings and just went at it.

now laying out the rail or any other road is a totally different story

peakbagger
11-25-2010, 05:14 AM
I was fortunate to work with some of the last of the Brown Company (the owner of a large chunk of northern NH) logging crews up in the Berlin area. They worked mostly with mechanized equipment but still had a lot of knowledge of the woods and most of them learned their trade from horse loggers. I also had access to the extensive files that the woods operations maintained. Nowhere did I ever see any records of that detail. I have copies of some of their mapping and it showed the major haul roads and that was about it. I had a chance to work with one of their roadbuilders a couple of times and he didnt use surveying equipment, it was all by eye and past experience. He could just walk through an area and figure out where he could cut down high spots to fill low spots and where he could find gravel.

Brown Company was in it for the long run, JE Henry, the major timber baron that cut most of the Pemi was into "cut and run" with no interest in the future except what he would cut after he finished his current cut. His woods crews were generally uneducated workers with some real smart foreman and superintendents that got their education in the woods and therefore I dont think a lot of things were written down. Even though from a distance the haul lines (they were cut long before mechanized skidders) look uniform they are more a function of the slope and terrain than by specific design. For a given slope there was an optimal point where it made sense to cut a new haul line rather than having to go up or down slope as the horses would get worn out too quickly, if the slope was uniform, the lines would tend to be uniform.

Unfortunately, I find that the lines that are real obvious from a distance are very hard to distinguish in the woods when walking along. Its not that the lines are necessarily devoid of vegetation, its just that a different type of tree filled in the former location of the haul line.

sardog1
11-25-2010, 07:07 AM
It's not just skidder paths from olden times that aren't documented. I'm wrapping up a project for a landowner in which I'm mapping post hoc the roads and paths that were cut in the last few years.

RoySwkr
11-25-2010, 07:05 PM
Unless we are talking about two different things here there was never a need to do any sort of lay out on a skid trail and skidding of logs would not have been done by anybody with that sort of knowledge anyhow. Its a very simple task. The logs are here and we need them there.... which was usually down hill.

The Forest Service often lays out skid trails carefully by professionals to avoid wetlands and valuable trees being retained because they have no need to show a profit, and a private forester may do the same on selection cuts. But Henry was clearcutting and didn't care what the land was like after he was done.

It was impractical to skid logs uphill with horses - that would reduce the load that could be hauled to almost nothing. According to what I have read, there were only 2 places in the Whites that logs were moved uphill pre-truck - one by train and one by cable.

Raymond
11-26-2010, 04:50 AM
A few years ago, I tried to climb Mount Huntington. Couldnít figure out if I made it to a top or not, there was no sign that people had been using the apparent high point as a gathering place, so I donít think I was there, but anyway, while descending toward the Arrow slide on Hancock, I found some old corduroy, then two or three open areas in a row that led downhill. They werenít continuous, there was lots of stuff grown up between them, but they sort of led me down to a campsite and then the trail out.

I donít know if thatís the type of thing you are looking for or not, but if you should find yourself there and stumble onto my long-lost flashing light, let me know!

brianW
11-26-2010, 08:14 AM
Are the old "log yards" known? (places where the trains were loaded) If so this would be a good spot to start the "skidder path quest"

Snowflea
11-26-2010, 05:48 PM
This Brad Washburn photo may help. :eek: :D

http://www.washburngallery.org/view.php?p=58&WASHBURN=2fb0710daaa200dd9bb0d6b747f619a3

Pretty amazing!

Dr. Dasypodidae
11-26-2010, 09:29 PM
This Brad Washburn photo may help. :eek: :D

http://www.washburngallery.org/view.php?p=58&WASHBURN=2fb0710daaa200dd9bb0d6b747f619a3

Pretty amazing!

Classic photo; JR Henry did not leave much behind, did he? :(

Becca M
11-26-2010, 10:03 PM
From the aerials, it really doesn't look like there are any "main" skidder paths. The picture looks to be the western side of the HC's, right? Anyway, any idea why this area was so prominently logged using so obvious a pattern of skidder paths? My guess is that these areas were just some of the last ones logged (from cedar brook to the hancocks/hitchcock area was the late '30's) and the technology had become more efficient? There are some obvious skidder paths on the bonds and twins, too, but nothing like the hancocks....

swamp
11-27-2010, 12:15 AM
A couple years ago I whacked W.Bond from Hellgate ravine. It was moderately thick but every 25 meters of elevation would bring some evidence of a skid road.They're everywhere but I wouldn't count on them for a route.
There are several people on this site that have bushwhacked the Jumping Brook drainage. "I found a logging road" became a bad joke.As soon as you find one it just washes off the hillside.

DSettahr
11-27-2010, 12:41 AM
and a private forester may do the same on selective cuts.

Selection, not selective. There's a difference!

Selection is when you take a few trees, but you plan it carefully for the health of the forest.

Selective is when you high grade, take all the high quality trees of good genetic stock, and leave the crappy ones behind.

Also, Selection cuts can be done, and still show a profit in the long run. Just like how clearcuts can sometimes be appropriate, depending on your management objectives.

As has been stated, skidder paths generally aren't documented. It'd be way too much work for something that doesn't really have much use. Logging roads and landings, however, probably were documented. Even with things like sensitive wetlands, etc, not much more is done than delineating the wetland with GIS, and then using GPS to mark the boundary of that wetland so that the skidder operators know not to enter that area.