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Thread: Mt Washinton Rescue - Presi Traverse No Map or Compass

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    There are precisely zero blue or yellow blazes on the GG trail. You sometimes get lucky and can spot an old red one on the headwall. The GG is a Wilderness so even the white ones are few and far between.
    Wilderness policy is to not paint blazes, in one case someone had blazed the Rocky Branch trail past the Wilderness boundary and the FS painted over the blue blazes with dark brown. I do believe wooden arrows at major trail deviations like indistinct river crossings are acceptable as well as signage at junctions. This in combination with limited brushing can be a real issue. Madison Gulf Trail has that problem on occasion, lots of steam crossings many at an angle to the flow versus perpendicular. Luckily folks will set up small cairns at these spots. My guess is cairns are tolerated at best by the FS. Its more of an annoyance during the day but at night it could be the difference between a late night walkout and a rescue call. (BTW cell coverage at the base of GG was slim to none several years ago although I am unsure if that has changed in recent years).

    As far as I remember even the AT through the Great Gulf is not blazed (barring older faded blazes). There is a stretch east of the bridge where the entire area is trampled by folks trying to find the trail. The above treeline area on the Presidential Ridge is mostly marked with the older enamel lead containing zinc chromate based gloss yellow with very little white as white does not show up on rocks and the newer latex based paints used do not last very long in bright sun and extreme conditions. The older paint had some toxic components that killed off underlying growth from the rocks, on occasion I see bright blaze sized spots of bright white rock surrounded by growth on rocks which I attribute to former blazes that have long since eroded off. As for the rest of the AT, NPS standards typically apply although I agree that some sections are blatantly over blazed. NF rules used to be only one blaze should be visible heading in one direction at any given time unless its a confirmation blaze after a sharp deviation (which would apply the GG intersection if not in a Wilderness area). There is or was a trail club option that could be selected over the standard double blaze which is a vertical lower blaze with a tilted standard sized blaze tilted slightly in the direction of the turn.

    Arguably no blazes are needed by "follow the beep" hikers intent on their technology but in this case there still is weak point of the clueless operator.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 08-23-2021 at 03:05 PM.

  2. #32
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    There are a lot of cairns on the GG trail below treeline that I don't remember from previous trips and other fresh maintenance. I wonder if this incident spurred any of that.

    If there is cell service anywhere in the Gulf I haven't found it.

  3. #33
    Senior Member B the Hiker's Avatar
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    The thing about the AT is that, other than in the Whites or up high, the AT in most places is stupidly easy to follow! For most of its length (and I will admit to knowing a small portion of it), the AT is amazingly well-maintained, thoroughly marked, and one rarely goes for long without seeing someone else on it. The infrastructure in terms of support around thru-hiking now is quite impressive. Hiking the AT, in terms of technical skills, is really not hard.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    White Mountain Wilderness policy is to not paint blazes, in one case someone had blazed the Rocky Branch trail past the Wilderness boundary and the FS painted over the blue blazes with dark brown. I do believe wooden arrows at major trail deviations like indistinct river crossings are acceptable as well as signage at junctions. This in combination with limited brushing can be a real issue. Madison Gulf Trail has that problem on occasion, lots of steam crossings many at an angle to the flow versus perpendicular. Luckily folks will set up small cairns at these spots. My guess is cairns are tolerated at best by the FS. Its more of an annoyance during the day but at night it could be the difference between a late night walkout and a rescue call. (BTW cell coverage at the base of GG was slim to none several years ago although I am unsure if that has changed in recent years).

    As far as I remember even the AT through the Great Gulf is not blazed (barring older faded blazes). There is a stretch east of the bridge where the entire area is trampled by folks trying to find the trail. The above treeline area on the Presidential Ridge is mostly marked with the older enamel lead containing zinc chromate based gloss yellow with very little white as white does not show up on rocks and the newer latex based paints used do not last very long in bright sun and extreme conditions. The older paint had some toxic components that killed off underlying growth from the rocks, on occasion I see bright blaze sized spots of bright white rock surrounded by growth on rocks which I attribute to former blazes that have long since eroded off. As for the rest of the AT, NPS standards typically apply although I agree that some sections are blatantly over blazed. NF rules used to be only one blaze should be visible heading in one direction at any given time unless its a confirmation blaze after a sharp deviation (which would apply the GG intersection if not in a Wilderness area). There is or was a trail club option that could be selected over the standard double blaze which is a vertical lower blaze with a tilted standard sized blaze tilted slightly in the direction of the turn.

    Arguably no blazes are needed by "follow the beep" hikers intent on their technology but in this case there still is weak point of the clueless operator.
    FIFY

    Not all USFS Wilderness areas have the WMNF charades.

  5. #35
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    There are a lot of cairns on the GG trail below treeline that I don't remember from previous trips and other fresh maintenance. I wonder if this incident spurred any of that.

    If there is cell service anywhere in the Gulf I haven't found it.
    Last year the section past the junction of Wamsutta/Buttress and tree line had a ton of blowdowns. The area around the junction of Sphinx was particularly confusing because trees fell in just the right places over the trail making the the numerous side paths (presumably for illegal campsites) look like the trail and some sections of the trail were running with water so they looked like brooks. I actually had to back track on three different occasions after following side paths that I knew from experience didn't feel right. There were a couple of spots that if I didn't know where I was going I would have had no idea where the trail was. Anything they did to clean up that area would be of great benefit. I don't recall any cairns but it was a year ago so I may have forgotten.
    “Sometimes when you’ve lost something in your life that matters, the only thing left to do is go and find it.” Renan Ozturk

  6. #36
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    I believe the maintainer of the Sphinx trail is or was a member on this site. My memory from a few years back was the extent of damage in the area was above that expected of a volunteer trail maintainer. At best without major rebuild and bridges its going to remain a wet experience. Upgrade work like this has been done on the upper reaches of the Wild River trail (in a wilderness area) but post Irene the approach on the NH side of the border has been less aggressive as evidences by the Dry River trail washouts.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 08-24-2021 at 07:58 AM.

  7. #37
    Senior Member CaptCaper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I believe the maintainer of the Sphinx trail is or was a member on this site. My memory from a few years back was the extent of damage in the area was above that expected of a volunteer trail maintainer. At best without major rebuild and bridges its going to remain a wet experience. Upgrade work like this has been done on the upper reaches of the Wild River trail (in a wilderness area) but post Irene the approach on the NH side of the border has been less aggressive as evidences by the Dry River trail washouts.
    My nephew who not only hiked the AT but many other trails around USA and Alaska. He told me NH had the worse markings of the trail system. I give the lost guy a bit of lee way. Being not from here and having many hours of mapping and learning local trails.

  8. #38
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I believe the maintainer of the Sphinx trail is or was a member on this site. My memory from a few years back was the extent of damage in the area was above that expected of a volunteer trail maintainer. At best without major rebuild and bridges its going to remain a wet experience. Upgrade work like this has been done on the upper reaches of the Wild River trail (in a wilderness area) but post Irene the approach on the NH side of the border has been less aggressive as evidences by the Dry River trail washouts.
    I wasn't complaining about it, just stating the condition. It is a hell of a remote area so kudos to whoever is taking that on (was it CDailey7779? I seem to remember him saying that was his trail in a reply to one of my questions a few years ago).

    Most of the blowdowns were not terribly large. They were just in diabolically "strategic" spots that maximized confusion. For example, there was a blowdown laying across and along the trail about 50 ft before the Sphinx Trail sign and junction. Coincidentally, there was a very well worn side trail going right, over a brook and into an area that looked like it gets a lot of tents so this area also had multiple side paths. After I backtracked and went left of the blowdown - tada! - there was the sign and the obvious trail. There was a similar spot where a blowdown blocked the trail, which looked like a brook, and gave the impression that a well worn side path that crossed the brook was the trail. But after about 100 yds into the scrub it dead ended. Based on how well worn it was I assume a lot of people were making that mistake.

    Personally I love that area beyond the Wamsutta/Buttress junction. It has a very wild and remote feeling and rarely has many people in it. You feel like you are exploring, not hiking. It was just a bit more beat up than past trips I've made in there. I could definitely see people not familiar with the area struggling to navigate it.
    “Sometimes when you’ve lost something in your life that matters, the only thing left to do is go and find it.” Renan Ozturk

  9. #39
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Chris's profile here does indicate he is the Sphinx Trail adopter, although I don't know if that is still current. I remember thinking that trail needed someone in his level of physical fitness to get all the way out there with tools and what not to do all that work. I expect he pops in there on his lunch hour during the week for a casual hike and maintenance.
    “Sometimes when you’ve lost something in your life that matters, the only thing left to do is go and find it.” Renan Ozturk

  10. #40
    Senior Member dailey7779's Avatar
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    You are correct, I am the trail adopter! There are a couple of places you have to pay attention or you can easily veer off trail. The one that initially was giving people the most issues was the highest water crossing if you were descending, the trail banks a sharp right over the brook and a hiker or two each year would keep going straight at this spot because there was a beaten path by a stealth campsite. The campsite has become more soggy over the years and is used a lot less if at all and I have been able to make that herd path disappear but it's still a confusing spot because it's not really apparent to cross the brook here if you haven't read the trail description in the guide, if you read the description then you know to look for it.

    The newest problem is what Day Trip is talking about. At the floor of the Gulf there is a spot just a hundred or so feet from the trail junction where it feels as if the trail should cross the brook one more time but it doesn't, plus there is standing water in the trail just past this spot too so it can be confusing. It's on my to-do list to try and make this a little less confusing but I am limited at what I can do in a wilderness area. Another thing that has been happening are some hikers are losing the Great Gulf Trail just before the Sphinx Trail Junction at a small brook crossing and then stomp around the open woods creating some herd paths that make things a little wonky in there.

    Other than that the trail is holding up well, growing in a little bit in some spots below treeline that I'll trim a little in a year or two, a blowdown here and there, and a water bar or two that needs a fix. But the trail is pretty much self sustaining since it's so steep so it flushes itself out each spring.

    The sign on the Gulfside Trail has been getting blown over each winter every year too so I get up there in late April and put that back up.

    Hoping to get back in there within the next month to see what I can do for the bottom of the trail

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