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Thread: Does a Poke in the Eye...

  1. #1
    Senior Member --M.'s Avatar
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    Does a Poke in the Eye...

    I was skiing from the Kanc up the Livermore Trail towards the pass this weekend, and noticed how much easier, faster, and enjoyable the passage would have been with a little brushing out. Every time a pole snags or I don't quite duck my head in time to miss a branch, a tiny little bit of the fun gets subtracted.

    To be fair, I would have had no issues if I were snowshoeing or hiking a bare trail; but depending on a bit of kick-'n'-glide with waxless skis really requires having the poles handy for the next spot. Waa!

    Now, I know it's both illegal and declasse to maintain trails in any manner whatsoever unless specifically authorized to do so (and I was as horrified as anyone over the Santanoni slashing), but what struck me was the juxtaposition of the incredible beauty of the experience versus the expletives I could utter after losing my balance for the nth time.

    Inasmuch as I was the only one there, I could express myself in any way I pleased, but it irritates me to cuss when I would otherwise be whooping it up.

    So here's the question: do you think having to bushwhack an ostensibly maintained trail detracts from your subjective "fun factor"? Or is it all good no matter what conditions you find?

    And do you find official trail maintainers glad for the beta on the current conditions? I could send a note to the WMNF if they found it useful.

    So my ski was utterly RUINED by those thoughtless buffoons who're supposed to meet my every entitled desire! No, it was gorgeous up there and was a lot of fun. But whackin' my head on a creatively complex under/over blowdown got me thinking about it, and, sure enough, I have a crankiness curve for obstacles.

    You?

  2. #2
    Senior Member DrewKnight's Avatar
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    Funny you should ask...

    Last Friday evening, I went out for a twilight snowshoe with a buddy... we started out on the Waterville trail network, but ended up bushwhacking just for the heck of it. Initially, I was even a touch squeamish about shaking the branches ahead to avoid the inevitable shower of fresh powder down the collar. You know, leave no trace and all that. I had a head-lamp, but the nearly-full moon provided an absolutely lovely glow that obviated the need for artificial lighting. Almost.

    Note to self: moonlight walks require clear lenses in the convertible sunglasses. Turns out, ski-instructor buddy, three or four inches shorter, doesn't necessarily serve as a sufficient outrider for eye-level twigs. Sharp stick in the eye, indeed.

  3. #3
    Senior Member wardsgirl's Avatar
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    Speaking as a trail maintainer, we definitely find your comments useful. While we are not able to install ladders for every steep pitch you may encounter, or get right out to remove the offending twigs on every trail, we appreciate current information about blowdowns, standing water, erosion, and other trail conditions that we can remedy. Thanks!

  4. #4
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    I can share in your frustration but unfortunately it is what it is. IMO wardsgirl's comments are on target. It's a big Forest out there and it is always growing and changing. What was skiable only 5 to 10 years ago may not be now, but on the other hand other opportunities have arisen. The key is to be in tune to what is going on and the original post is an example of a key to be aware of. Thanks for the post and to all that participate in trail maintenance.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  5. #5
    Senior Member RoySwkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by --M.
    So here's the question: do you think having to bushwhack an ostensibly maintained trail detracts from your subjective "fun factor"? Or is it all good no matter what conditions you find?

    And do you find official trail maintainers glad for the beta on the current conditions? I could send a note to the WMNF if they found it useful.
    I probably do more bushwhacking than most people but when I hike on a trail I expect it to be maintained. Like you, I get more frustrated than I probably should when a supposedly-maintained trail isn't. That doesn't mean I don't still have a good day.

    I'm sure the actual maintainers would like to hear about blowdowns but sending a note to the WMNF probably won't reach them. As to overgrown trails, the maintainers probably know it but are either too lazy to fix it or deliberately like it that way. Most maintenance is done in the summer and cancelled for rain, so the maintainers don't think about winter hikers or long distance backpackers who go anyway.

    If I stumble and grab an overhanging branch it sometimes breaks off, leaving it better for the next people, and the FS will find it tough to arrest me.

  6. #6
    Senior Member MadRiver's Avatar
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    I do try to hike my trail in winter a few times so I can see how high up I need to brush so large backpacks, poles, and anything else will not hit the branches.
    What do you mean he don't eat no meat? Ok, I'll do lamb.

  7. #7
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    The "rule" for RMC trimming is to cut it wide enough and high enough for "Doug" to ski it

    Of course a well trimmed trail in the summer frequently has branches crossing overhead, that become a problem with a few feet of snow. On a cold day, those branches tend to snap quite easily.

    In the good old days, I would frequently see signs of someone using hand clippers to cut off new growth growing into the established trail corridor, frequently nearby AMC huts, I wonder if that is considered unauthorized trail clearing these days?

  8. #8
    Senior Member --M.'s Avatar
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    It just seems incongruous while it's happening. I almost see an alter-ego looking back from thirty yards ahead, laughing at the sight. And then, as soon as I'm free from the obstacle, I seem to reset and off I go.

    On the other hand, the Lincoln Woods Trail and the trails to the Hancocks were almost PERFECT in their width, packed powder and crossable streams. And I've had fun whackin' before, but usually it's because I'm deliberately off-trail.

    Just a little whine....

  9. #9
    Senior Member Hillwalker's Avatar
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    USFS Trail standards

    Not a few maintainers view this site and would probably appreciate a trail condition section rather than having to sift through trip reports and trail condition reports looking fow a few hints about problems. This has been mentioned in the past. Especially for blow downs which can occur all through the year but are usually only cleared in the spring by paid trail crews during their annual walk through.

    Back in 1983 when I received my trail maintenance training by personnel from the Bethel Maine FS station, I was taught that the USFS Standard for trail brushing was four feet wide and eight feet high. The tongue in cheek example was that "you should be able to carry a sheet of 4 by 8 plywood up the trail front on and standing up". I attempt to adhere to that on the two sections that I am currently signed up for in Western New Hampshire. Cutting the brush, not carrying the plywood :>)

    Sending a note to the USFS would do little if any good when it comes to informing maintainers and adopters since many do not directly work for the FS, but with other entities such as DOC, RMC, AMC, WODC, WVOC, GMC, et al.

    Come on moderators, give us a trail condition section that is a little more useful to us trail adopters and maintainers.

  10. #10
    Senior Member spider solo's Avatar
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    just winter conditions....

    All a mater of what conditions you find from one day to the next, or one storm to the next.
    I certainly have favorite trails,and also favorite areas where the "whacking" is good.
    I carry a small pocket saw and wil cut away the blowdowns depending on my time, energy, and general mood.
    Often the blowdowns are to big for me to cut, but I'll cut a branch or two from it to allow passage, esp. if going around it is impractable.

    Often you'll see where people have snapped a branch or two out of the way, often I'll use the saw to blunt the remaining sharp stub.
    I'm sure many of us have had to crawl over a log with a bunch of sharp branches poking up in all the wrong places...it's nice to cut them off flush.

    Mostly I view winter as "wild and whacky" . Figure the trails will be maintained as best they can be during the other seasons.

    I have seen one friend simply ski down the brooks and streams...How he does it is far above and beyond anything I could do...it is Glade sking to the max.

    So mostly you just chalk it up to the varying winter conditons but, you can also ask yourself.."what have I done to improve this for the next person ?"

    opps... eye protection for those eye pokers ...they can be mighty nasty.
    "you've got to stand for something
    or...you'll fall for anything"

  11. #11
    Senior Member --M.'s Avatar
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    Great points, but they beg the question of unauthorized trail maintenance..., a little tricky.

    For example, the blowdown that started me thinking of this was an under-over affair with a special-bonus-pithing branch that wasn't visible until you tried to stick your head up on the other side. It was really a beauty! Well, I snapped it off, but immediately realized that I had transformed my blunt trauma with the next guy's sharp knife to the skull. I then had to spend a minute getting it trimmed down to less-than-lethal size. Don't Tase me, bro!

    Now, on my home turf, I routinely snap off anything dead and pretty routinely leave anything living -- and yes, I can tell the difference without harming the tree. And if I were actually authorized, I'd carry a clippers on my next run through and brush things out.

    But that's rather verboten on not-home turf, so I leave it and try to keep the chipper attitude I began with.

    After all, it's not as horrible as The Comfy Chair.

  12. #12
    Senior Member spider solo's Avatar
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    yes, another way might be to say a small pocket tool for small stuff, leaving the bigger stuff for trail maintence folks.

    Sounds like you've got the jist of it any way...you would blunt a sharp pointy thing much the way you did, shows you were thinking of the next person who comes along.

    Much like you'd pick up a piece of litter or hold a branch rather than letting it slap the person behind you in the face.
    Just common courtesy stuff..I don't think the trails would or could be
    micro- managed to that extent.
    "you've got to stand for something
    or...you'll fall for anything"

  13. #13
    Senior Member ecc's Avatar
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    When skiing, I wear a helmet, knee pads and goggles. That way, I'm protected from the lack of grooming. Somewhat.
    ecc

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