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Thread: Thoreau Falls stringer removal in progress

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    Senior Member Salty's Avatar
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    Thoreau Falls stringer removal in progress

    Trip report of a 3 day hike probably coming, but I was up on part of the Thoreau Falls trail yesterday and was surprised by a sign saying Trail Work. Heh? Then I saw all the backpacks and tools laying by the bridge, I think there was 7-8 FS folks, all from the Pemi district, including all 4 of the pro trail crew. They were cutting rebar when I went through, and on my way back one of the stringers was off on one side. Pretty impressive. They have to saw (by hand of course) these humongous logs into pieces instead of just letting it into the river, because of some serious creosote on them (seepage was quite a few inches in). Only got a couple photos because I didn't want to bother them too much with their work going on and it was a hazard zone technically, but one of the crew offered me a 3' chunk of log as a souvenir. I also heard them out there this morning and one ranger at LinWoods said they've been out since Monday. 4 trucks at the tentsites, guessing they're staying there for the week given how early and late they are at the site.

    Dry feet on the crossing courtesy of a 60 cfs reading in Lincoln. :-)

    Couple of pictures. Sorry for the crapiness, but like I said I didn't want to linger too long. In the 2nd pic, the log is NOT in the river, it's actually suspended above it.

    Tuesday AM:


    Tuesday PM:
    Last edited by Salty; 09-18-2019 at 07:12 PM. Reason: Added note about log not in river

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    Thanks for the sad update. They can free up a crew to demolish stuff but cant justify rebuilding. I guess the abutments become "historical relics".

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    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    I wonder why they opted to do this work during the driest time of the year? This would have been a great project for May.
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    Senior Member Salty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJsName View Post
    I wonder why they opted to do this work during the driest time of the year? This would have been a great project for May.
    I would assume because they're able to get down to the riverbed easily. Note the log is being suspended by ropes, and as I mentioned, the logs HAVE to be sawed up and not left in the river for environmental reasons.

    Peakbagger, I wish I had the wherewithal to ask what their upcoming projects were. It would be interesting to know what may be going on that doesn't necessarily get a lot of attention unlike this project.

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    I have no issues with the crew or the quality of their work they just do what they are told. The decision to remove the bridge is strategic decision most likely from the WMNF forest supervisor up the chain. Other forest districts actively replace bridges in Wilderness areas. It just WMNF has been on a very deliberate campaign to remove infrastructure rather than repair it even outside Wilderness areas.Even though its apparently a policy decision the public had only been given lip service for input on individual decisions not on the overall policy.

    Regarding the quality of the work, I happened to be out there yesterday and the condition they left the place compared to the Cedar Brook bridge removal several years ago was far better. There is a large pile of the sawed up bridge stringer rounds off to the side, a small pile of sawn up bridge hardware one top of one round. No piles of trash and debris (unlike the Cedar Brook project had months after). They appear to have swept up the sawdust generated and removed it from the site although I expect the soil will be toxic for some years in the work area. There are two neatly stacked piles of the former bridge deck and handrails out in the woods. They appear to be set up for a future bonfire although there is not adequate clearance to light off the bonfires without removing multiple trees to form a clearance zone.

    The abutments remain as well as the USGS disk.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 09-22-2019 at 06:16 AM.

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    Senior Member Salty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I have no issues with the crew or the quality of their work they just do what they are told. The decision to remove the bridge is strategic decision most likely from the WMNF forest supervisor up the chain.
    I hope I didn't imply you were thinking that, it truly wasn't my intention. Just would be good to know what the uppity-ups have in mind. I have to wonder if the attention to detail on this job is because of what I think many folks would agree was the botched nature of the suspension bridge removal.

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    My guess is the suspension bridge on Dry River has been on their list. It was built at the time of the wilderness designation so it would be hard to justify it like the Thoreau Falls bridge that predated the wilderness designation.

    As noted in my trail report the AT bridge over the North Fork is getting shaky but its status of the AT may save it. The wilderness boundary was carefully jogged to exclude this structure but that didnt save the Moriah Brook Bridge.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 09-24-2019 at 03:48 AM.

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    This is the way the bridge ends
    This is the way the bridge ends
    This is the way the bridge ends

    Not with a bang but a future bonfire*

    (with apologies to TS Eliot)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The first picture is obviously rotated. There is similar pile next to it set a bit off in the woods to the side. The only reason to pile wood that way is for one heck of a bonfire. As for the stringer rounds, it would be a multiday effort to burn them. The creosote would get them going but that still is lot of diameter to chew up. I expect if they waited until there was snow on the ground it would be rapidly melted for a 100 foot radius, sort of like the Unfrozen Caveman's bashes in VT I expect even 8 miles in from the road it would make a heck of a black plume.

    Thanks to my friend for the photo since my camera died.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 09-23-2019 at 03:46 PM.

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    Senior Member Scubahhh's Avatar
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    Am I dreaming, or was there a shelter on the Thoreau Falls Trail way back in the olden days? I think there was one, maybe Camp 16, along the Wilderness Train near the junction, and thought there was another a ways up toward Thoreau Falls. I could swear I stayed there during Hurricane Agnes in 1972...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scubahhh View Post
    Am I dreaming, or was there a shelter on the Thoreau Falls Trail way back in the olden days? I think there was one, maybe Camp 16, along the Wilderness Train near the junction, and thought there was another a ways up toward Thoreau Falls. I could swear I stayed there during Hurricane Agnes in 1972...
    I looked it up in my 1972 AMC guide map and there are no shelters shown on the Thoreau Falls trail. Closest ones I see are a shelter at Camp 16 where the Bondcliff Trail used to cut off the Wilderness Trail a few miles to the west before the now removed suspension bridge over the East Branch, Desolation Shelter a few miles to the east over near Stillwater junction and Ethan Pond Shelter. If you were there during a Hurricane, I hope you were at Camp 16 Shelter comparted to Desolation Shelter as the hike out from Desolation Shelter requires an unbridged crossing over the East Branch while Camp 16 would not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scubahhh View Post
    Am I dreaming, or was there a shelter on the Thoreau Falls Trail way back in the olden days? I think there was one, maybe Camp 16, along the Wilderness Train near the junction, and thought there was another a ways up toward Thoreau Falls. I could swear I stayed there during Hurricane Agnes in 1972...
    Speaking of structures in that area, I'm curious which one the 2 doctors were trying to find after their plane crash in '59.

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    There was reportedly a rangers cabin not very far from the crash site. Not sure where.

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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    There was reportedly a rangers cabin not very far from the crash site. Not sure where.
    A few links here describe what was called "The North Fork Cabin".

    https://www.scenicnh.com/blog/2015/0...mi-wilderness/

    https://www.fosters.com/article/2009...S_01/703089935
    Last edited by skiguy; 10-02-2019 at 01:38 PM.
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    Senior Member Salty's Avatar
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    A couple more articles:
    https://herecast.us/886909
    https://dartmed.dartmouth.edu/winter...ne_crash.shtml

    I went by the crash site in that outing, I wish I had thought to bring some of the pictures in these articles.

    Regarding the cabin, the weren't looking for it, they had no idea it was there (they also followed the bed north at one point), which is all the more tragic to be so close. I can find no reference to a cabin in the 1952 or 1960 WMG's, and the FS maps of 1942 or 1963 show no structures in that area. Mike Dickerman's and the Dartmouth article states the cabin was 8/10ths of a mile from the crossing that stopped them. The Dartmouth article pins it down by saying a scalpel was found 1 mile from the crash site, and that was less than a mile from the cabin, so the cabin is 1.8-2 miles from the crash site, that lines up perfectly with (old) Camp 22 and they were stopped at the North Fork crossing near New Camp 22.

    What the WMG maps do show, however, is structures at Camp 22 (and camp 23), so my suspicion is the North Fork Cabin was built on (or utilized from) the (old) Camp 22 site.

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    Senior Member maineguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I looked it up in my 1972 AMC guide map and there are no shelters shown on the Thoreau Falls trail. Closest ones I see are a shelter at Camp 16 where the Bondcliff Trail used to cut off the Wilderness Trail a few miles to the west before the now removed suspension bridge over the East Branch, Desolation Shelter a few miles to the east over near Stillwater junction and Ethan Pond Shelter. If you were there during a Hurricane, I hope you were at Camp 16 Shelter comparted to Desolation Shelter as the hike out from Desolation Shelter requires an unbridged crossing over the East Branch while Camp 16 would not.
    I think that there were actually 2 unbridged crossings in 72

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