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Thread: Lake Arnold Trail continues to deteriorate - 27 June 2015

  1. #1
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    Thumbs down Lake Arnold Trail continues to deteriorate - 27 June 2015

    Yesterday CB and I climbed Gray and Marcy via the L. Arnold trail. The beaver flooding between the Opalescent crossing and the return to dry land further along was once bridged by board planking and semi-floating logs. That all started to fall apart years ago. It is now worse than we have ever seen it. Beaver activity continues year after year. Every big storm does its thing, and spring run-off contributes its bit. In the face of those forces, human attempts at repair and reconstruction have been futile. Much of the wood is so waterlogged that it sinks at the first step. Some logs are untethered and completely adrift. Wet wood is slippery. The skillful birler with calked boots and pike pole will do OK. Less acrobatic hikers will be lucky to get across with only wet feet. Where the logs are slickest and least well-anchored, the water is chest deep. We believe that continued efforts to repair the bridging would be pointless, as the beavers, storms, and runoff will only continue to undo the work, and that only answer is to relocate the trail to the right bank of the Opalescent all the way to the lean-to. We recommend, therefore, that the section of the current trail between L. Arnold and the bridge to the Feldspar Brook Lean-to be closed and urge those who are familiar with this piece of trail and who agree with our views to join us in persuading the DEC to close it forthwith. At best, it is disagreeably difficult. At worst, it is a needless hazard.

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    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    Totally agree that this trail follows a poorly chosen route. But closing trails denies access; we have enough of that going on. The trail should be re-routed uphill away from the brook and swamp. I've proposed this before, but had crowds of people jump in to defend the trail as it is; apparently, people like a mud hole. A re-route is badly needed. Maybe if DEC does close it altogether, some folks will wake up to what a mess (and a hazard) it is.

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    Rerouting a trail, in that case a major undertaking because of the terrain as a number of scoutings offered just as bad solutions, it's either flat and sporting a maze of sizable drainages or steep terrain sparkled with truck size boulders. Not sure it was a poorly chosen route at the time, as since then numerous storms and beavers have moved in. Actually after Hurricane Irene the beaver dam was gone and passage was no problem. Right now, if the Opalescent is low, it's safer to walk in its bed the length of the boardwalk since one is going to at minimum get knee deep anyway. Everyone we met -and we met a lot of climbers enjoying a perfect day in the mountains- who had taken that route in the morning went back to the Loj either over Marcy or Avalanche Lake. Plus a long re-route needs a UMP amendment and it takes time, do we really want to forgo safety for a few years?
    Who goes hiking wearing a floating device tied to their backpack? At minimum, and for now, climbers should be made aware of the danger ahead and take that route only at their own risk and well informed.

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    Here two pictures from Google Earth which confirm the nature of the terrain all around and not only the many drainages but their size. For instance one we cross over a bridge before reaching the Opalescent soon merges with the one from the slide and becomes just as wide as the Opalescent if not more, and would require a bridge that would likely be washed away regularly since at that point the embankments are low. Etc.

    I am certainly not a professionnal trail worker but knows enough to direct money and energy elsewhere. Closing this section of trail will not deny access to anything, its value as a shortcut is debatable and we must not crate another mess of a trail just for our peak bagging convenience.

    By the way I have at various times the last few years and even this past Friday walked down partway along the bank of the Opalescent and other times way to the East/left of the present floating boardwalk and feels there is no easy way around in that valley. We are talking here major undertaking/investment work and $ wise!

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    Senior Member jrbren's Avatar
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    It has been several years since I have hiked this trail, I have probably done it about a dozen times in my life. I disagree closing it would not block access to anything. I used it primarily to be able to traverse the Marcy/Gray/Skylight group rather then out & back on the main trail from ADK Loj, so it does divert traffic away from that trail. I thought is was a very enchanting trail, I have done it not flooded and the last couple time I did it was flooded out as described. At that time you could get though it with wet feet. Big deal. Bring an extra pair of socks. I assume the flooding is much worse today to be using words like "danger". However if it creates a network of side trails I agree that is bad. If my opinion mattered (I do not live in NY), I would support a reroute but not closing the trail, just warn people about it.

    The main thing this thread does is make me want to go hike it and see what the commotion is about. If I still lived 2.5 hours away I would, but now I am more like 5 hours away by car.

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    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    This is a remote location and it's difficult to get materials and workers in there. If the route were to be kept the same, the biggest problems could be fixed with some *properly done* boardwalk and bridge work. The challenge is that it's hard to do that work, due to the remoteness. The result is very bad bridgework.

    The problem spots now have grown into a lot more than "wet feet change your socks." There are a couple areas where rotted out floating bridges will collapse or flip over when stepped on, dumping the hiker headfirst into chest deep water.

    (As an editorial, part of the cause for this is the current absurd insistence on "natural materials" being used for all trail work. The result, unsurprisingly, is trail work that quickly rots out and frequently needs to be replaced. This problem is aggravated by the lack of resources to do the repairs. This is seen everywhere in the Adirondacks, not just in "peak-bagging" country. There is discussion going on now about updating this outmoded and illogical provision of the APSLMP; with luck we'll see better, longer lasting trail work in the future.)

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    "The main thing this thread does is make me want to go hike it and see what the commotion is about. If I still lived 2.5 hours away I would, but now I am more like 5 hours away by car."

    We just received another 2 inches of rain the last few hours, bring your life jacket just in case! And plenty of disinfectant as falling you may hit your head on a sticking up, by inches, rusty nail.

    Again, it's not about getting wet feet/knees but a boardwalk whose several bases are not anchored to the ground anymore and move about in particularly deep water over a swampy bottom. Was in shallow miniature swamp last week, water was about 8 inches deep for a roughly 3 feet wide stretch, too long to jump had to step in, went down in the yuck to my knees, almost lost my boot! At least there was tree nearby to hang onto, which is not the case along most of the Lake Arnold Trail boardwalk.

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    Senior Member jrbren's Avatar
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    sounds like a challenge . Seriously, I would not be on any of the northeast mountains today, which is why I am sitting at my computer posting on forums as I listen to the rain fall on my roof. But honestly, I am curious to go check it out myself. I won't, because there a few other ADK hikes I am itching to do that would trump it when I get up there (hopefully) later this year.

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    These two pictures were taken on June 20, by the 26 in spite of the drier weather the water was a foot deeper, for instance the transversal board with a nail had us in water over our knees!

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    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Looks worse than two years ago when I went in for a swim. Well just below chest deep that day in July.
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Some hikes are better left for January.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  12. #12
    Junior Member Charles's Avatar
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    Officially closed by the D.E.C.:

    Lake Arnold/Feldspar Lean-to Trail: The trail between Lake Arnold and Feldspar Lean-to is flooded and impassable. Much of the bog bridging in this area is floating or underwater and there is no way to get around the flooding. Use Avalanche Pass/Lake Colden Trial or Mt. Colden Trail to travel between Lake Arnold and Feldspar Lean-to. DEC is working to develop a solution to this problem.

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