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Thread: Pemi Wilderness Bridge Removal Project

  1. #136
    Member peakbagger-paul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amicus View Post
    The only hiker we met Saturday morning in the vicinity of the two bridges knew nothing about their imminent removal. He'd taken a wrong turn heading from Lincoln Woods to 19-Mile Brook campsite and gone several miles out of his way!
    Did you mean the 13 Falls Campsite? If he was looking for the 10-Mile Brook Trail, he had REALLY gone out of his way?

  2. #137
    Senior Member McRat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadtripper View Post
    The ranger @ Lincoln Woods also mentioned that they had been reading this.
    How comforting. They may not appear to be listening to us, but at least they read VFTT. It's a start...

    Before taking a farewell hike across the bridges on Saturday, I spoke to one person who suggested there were a couple of deaths near the bridge area as people tried to cross at high water before it was built (anyone have any info on this?). We discussed the situation for a bit and he actually summed up the argument better than I could -

    "Wilderness experience, when talked about by outdoorsy types, is about getting away from the civilized world and exploring the outdoors. Wilderness experience, when talked about by folks in Washington who have never been hiking, is about what the WILDERNESS experiences... and they have concluded that the Wilderness doesn't like people."

    Having recently visited the two bridges, I felt they were useful... but not entirely necessary, particularly in low water conditions. Though it will be problematic for XC skiers, I do not see their removal greatly affecting any of my future hiking plans.

    That said, I'm unimpressed with how this has been carried out. My perception is that the decision to remove the bridge was made and that the comment period was merely a formality. It seems like yet another example of an unresponsive federal bureaucracy costing more and offering less. I'm not exactly surprised, but I am getting the feeling that the only input my government wants from me is financial.

    I understand and appreciate the dedication and hard work of many in the forest service, and I know that this decision is far from unanimous among them. I simply disagree with the decision and the process - mostly the latter. I wish the bridge removal expense went towards many of the other underfunded projects in the area, but that is all just water under the bridge.

    ...And to the bridges, So long! You will be missed. I can hardly wait to find out how much will be spent removing you.

  3. #138
    Senior Member Amicus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger-paul View Post
    Did you mean the 13 Falls Campsite? If he was looking for the 10-Mile Brook Trail, he had REALLY gone out of his way?
    Yup - 13 Falls. Just a dyslexic moment.

  4. #139
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by McRat View Post
    ...That said, I'm unimpressed with how this has been carried out. My perception is that the decision to remove the bridge was made and that the comment period was merely a formality.
    I think many people share your point of view.

    Personally, I find it regrettable that the hiking community has no formal voice/organization in representing its interests in the WMNF. Some might argue that organization is the AMC, and I would agree - to a point. However, the AMC needs the periodic approval of the USFS to maintain its hut system, so that makes one wonder whether that need impacts on the level of advocacy they may be willing to expend.

  5. #140
    Senior Member TEO's Avatar
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    Unlike many of you, I think that in this instance, the Forest Service is doing what they're supposed to do and, while many of you may not agree at the moment, they're doing something for our benefit.

    The first step to understanding is to discover and recognize the benefits of wildness. In other posts, Laura & Guy Waterman's Wilderness Ethics has been suggested. They in turn, recommend Roderick Nash's Wilderness and the American Mind, among other volumes.

    Federal Wilderness, or simply, Wilderness, is an attempt to preserve and even recreate areas of wild land. This means getting rid of somethings that we find convenient or even like. It means that there are somethings that we enjoy doing that will not be allowed in these areas. Because our country has decided that wildness is something worth protecting, it means that money will be spent to do so.

    What do we get in return? We get a few protected places where nature is the dominant force, not humans.

    The following are some selected quotes from Wilderness Ethics that address some of the concerns that have been raised in this thread.

    "What else is wildness? Certain attributes come to mind: remoteness, inaccessibility, uncertainty, mystery. A wild place can be a difficult place, uncomfortable for humans. And we should seek to keep it that way, not try to make it safer, more comfortable, more like the civilization we leave behind." (p. 35)

    "[The Pemi Wilderness] and any wilderness gains much of its wild character precisely from being not that readily accessible. It is right that we should have to go the long way around, or undertake the trailless approach, or simply stand and watch and rejoice in its inaccessibility, honor the citadel left free to nature." (p. 100)

    "...True wildness certainly does not require large space. It does require commitment to a situation where wild nature is in charge, where tiny humanity is exposed to genuine risk, where the deck is not stacked in our favor but the wild gods of nature hold all the aces." (p. 37)

    Some of you have suggested that since the Pemi was thoroughly logged, the notion of calling it wild is laughable. The Waterman's ask the question in such away as to challenge us to do so:

    "Can we reverse the civilizing momentum and reclaim a touch of wildness even on land that appeared lost to the development or recreation mania?" (p. 28)

    Others have suggest that Wilderness and wildness is an elitist concept. On pages 100 & 101, the Watermans address this issue. They point out that there is an abundance of easily accessible natural wonders, but that it is the number of difficult-to-access places that are in danger of disappearing and are worth protecting.

    Later, they address the issue of bridges specifically:

    "Crossing swollen mountain streams can provide some of the most hair-raising interludes along the trail. We recall with relish many a precarious crossing--teetering on narrow tree trunks over raging torrents of swift water, or hopping from boulder to moss-slippery boulder, occasionally dropping a boot (or more) into the icy waters. Great memories of exciting moments. Sometimes terrifying. Sometimes hilarious. Always memorable.

    "But there are sober, serious bridge builders at work in the backcountry who'd like to exorcise such moments form the backpacker's experience. These overeager engineers will slap a huge log bridge, complete with cement foundations on both sides, over any flowing water too wide to jump. Instead of experiencing an interesting challenge, the hiker just puts his head down and plods over a tailored bridgeway. The mentality that regards such offenses as trail 'improvements' can only be achieved by crossbreeding a beaver with a deskbound colonel from the Army Corps of Engineers.

    "We should take lessons from our western hiking brethren. Out West, difficult river crossings are accepted as part of the game. In Alaska they can be really wild. Sometimes you even have to improvise a raft." (pp. 209 & 210)

    In regards to this bridge, the Forest Service is following the policies and laws that guide them, which, in this case, seeks to restore and protect what little wildness remains. So I look at this as a step forward. A small step towards the realization of the ideal of wildness. I say bravo and thank you for trying to make life a little more difficult for us in the Pemi Wilderness. I accept that this has and will cost us money.
    Last edited by TEO; 09-21-2009 at 05:21 PM.

  6. #141
    Senior Member Ed'n Lauky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TEO View Post

    "Crossing swollen mountain streams can provide some of the most hair-raising interludes along the trail. We recall with relish many a precarious crossing--teetering on narrow tree trunks over raging torrents of swift water, or hopping from boulder to moss-slippery boulder, occasionally dropping a boot (or more) into the icy waters. Great memories of exciting moments. Sometimes terrifying. Sometimes hilarious. Always memorable.

    "But there are sober, serious bridge builders at work in the backcountry who'd like to exorcise such moments form the backpacker's experience. These overeager engineers will slap a huge log bridge, complete with cement foundations on both sides, over any flowing water too wide to jump. Instead of experiencing an interesting challenge, the hiker just puts his head down and plods over a tailored bridgeway. The mentality that regards such offenses as trail 'improvements' can only be achieved by crossbreeding a beaver with a deskbound colonel from the Army Corps of Engineers.

    "We should take lessons from our western hiking brethren. Out West, difficult river crossings are accepted as part of the game. In Alaska they can be really wild. Sometimes you even have to improvise a raft." (pp. 209 & 210)
    As far as I know, there is no law prohibiting the fording of a stream in the vicinity of a bridge. If someone gets their kicks or thrills that way, go for it. Skip the bridge and wade in.

    Quite frankly, a fifty year old suspension bridge in the middle of nowhere is something I find fascinating. It in no way spoils my wilderness experience.
    I used to look at my dog and think 'If you were a little smarter you could tell me what your were thinking', and he'd look at me like he was saying 'If you were a little smarter I wouldn't have to'. Fred Jungclaus

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  7. #142
    Senior Member Willoughby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TEO View Post
    Instead of experiencing an interesting challenge, the hiker just puts his head down and plods over a tailored bridgeway. The mentality that regards such offenses as trail 'improvements' can only be achieved by crossbreeding a beaver with a deskbound colonel from the Army Corps of Engineers.
    (TEO is quoting the Watermans.)

    I'm interested in how you reconcile this view with the abandonment of a middle section of the Wilderness Trail. You're not the only person who has advanced the view, but I think that the FS itself has contradicted you by filling in and rerouting the trails that would lead to the former bridge site. (Or planning to, but it seems like a fait accompli.)

    And before anyone asks: yes, I have hiked the Wilderness trail from Lincoln Woods to Stillwater, and I have also hiked the eastern/southern route. I heard history speaking to me along much of the Wilderness trail, and I specifically enjoyed the section that's being abandoned.

  8. #143
    Senior Member Fisher Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed'n Lauky View Post

    Quite frankly, a fifty year old suspension bridge in the middle of nowhere is something I find fascinating. It in no way spoils my wilderness experience.
    I like your thinking Ed. It wouldn't spoil mine either. Having hiked out west quite some distance and over various terrain to get to remote ghost towns (not necessarily peaks, but hiking all the same), I enjoy examining old man-made things. I mean that in the sense of, I like watching how something man-made, built with the intention to remain, be slowly and surely consumed by the very elements they were meant to conquer. Not that a bridge is an all-conquering structure mind you, but the principle is the same.

    I feared wading into this discussion to begin with, but I guess that's my only feelings on the matter. I'm not sure they are relevant, but, oh well. It's hard not to get sucked into a multi-page discussion.
    " by reason of much foule weather and Extreme Bad Woods to travel in.."- From the letter of my great uncle Samuel Willard (accompanied by my grandfather Henry) to Governor Dummer on August 16, 1725, explaining the reason for his return, being instructed to "range all the country", of the Wawobadenik (White Mountains) July 19-August 16, 1725. I am a 13th generation New Englander and proud of it.

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  9. #144
    Senior Member smitty77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TEO View Post
    In regards to this bridge, the Forest Service is following the policies and laws that guide them, which, in this case, seeks to restore and protect what little wildness remains. So I look at this as a step forward. A small step towards the realization of the ideal of wildness. I say bravo and thank you for trying to make life a little more difficult for us in the Pemi Wilderness. I accept that this has and will cost us money.
    Thank you TEO, that was well put. I fully understand and respect the policies and laws regarding the Wilderness. What I take exception to is the arbitrary application of these laws and policies. To remove the bridge is fine, but to rebuild other bridges in neighboring Wilderness areas within the White Mountains is what I have a problem with most. I don't remember which forum it was on, but a fellow member pointed out that those bridges are in two different Wildernesses which are managed differently. This simply should not be. If the various ranger offices of the Forest Service are to operate so differently, is there any oversight into their overall operation and application of said laws and policies? I'm starting to think there isn't, and this is what I fear the most.
    Last edited by smitty77; 09-21-2009 at 09:37 PM. Reason: Forgot to finish a thought....
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  10. #145
    Senior Member psmart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smitty77 View Post
    What I take exception to is the arbitrary application of these laws and policies. To remove the bridge is fine, but to rebuild other bridges in neighboring Wilderness areas within the White Mountains is what I have a problem with most. I don't remember which forum it was on, but a fellow member pointed out that those bridges are in two different Wildernesses which are managed differently. This simply should not be. If the various ranger offices of the Forest Service are to operate so differently, is there any oversight into their overall operation and application of said laws and policies? I'm starting to think there isn't, and this is what I fear the most.
    All the Wilderness areas in the WMNF are managed under the same rules and guidelines according to the WMNF Plan. Although the decisions are made by different personnel in each district, I believe that differences in the decisions are primarily a matter of different circumstances for each bridge, rather than any inconsistency in the application of the rules. Remember, there is no simple rule regarding bridges. As explained in the decision memo, it's a complex decision based on a number of factors, so there is no reason to expect the same outcome in all cases.

  11. #146
    Senior Member dr_wu002's Avatar
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    Bridge is gone, boo hoo. At best it functioned to enable an 11 mile ski route. Most other traffic needs can be served by the East Branch Truck Road or whatever it's called -- it's not like you can't get to any of those areas anymore, you just can't do the loop. Waste of time and resources in my opinion but then again, who really cares. They replaced the bridge on the Great Gulf Trail which is far more important in my opinion.

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    Last edited by dr_wu002; 09-22-2009 at 07:59 AM.
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  12. #147
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    Quote Originally Posted by dr_wu002 View Post
    Waste of time and resources in my opinion but then again, who really cares.-Dr. Wu
    Hmmm, 6000 views and 146 posts in less than two weeks on this thread, not to mention the 10,000+ views and 20+ pages of posts on the earlier Pemi bridge thread, I think answers your question "who really cares."

  13. #148
    Senior Member dr_wu002's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Dasypodidae View Post
    Hmmm, 6000 views and 146 posts in less than two weeks on this thread, not to mention the 10,000+ views and 20+ pages of posts on the earlier Pemi bridge thread, I think answers your question "who really cares."
    I meant in the grand scheme of things.

    Do you really take things that I say serious anyway?

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  14. #149
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    Quote Originally Posted by dr_wu002 View Post
    I meant in the grand scheme of things.

    Do you really take things that I say serious anyway?

    -Dr. Wu
    Every word, Dr. Wu!

  15. #150
    Senior Member dr_wu002's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Dasypodidae View Post
    Every word, Dr. Wu!
    Maybe we can go build our own bridge outta Barge Glue!

    -Dr. Wu
    To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.
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