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Thread: Trailwork Seasonal End; Tools of the Mind

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Thanked 11 Times in 9 Posts

    Default Trailwork Seasonal End; Tools of the Mind

    This is the only time of year I look upon my trail tools with a measure of sorrow. It is the final weekend of trailwork for us this year. I left them in the car overnight, rationalizing that for someone in the room next to us, someone unknown, could look upon an axe, a hoe, and a pulphook with a bit of consternation, perhaps jumping to a conclusion outside of their designed intention. I completely understand.They are cool to the touch in the morning, damp almost, but with a hint of expectation they will soon thrust themselves into a frenzy of muscled powered momentum. Its been like this for several weeks. It has been like a bit in my mouth, a bit that grinds and clenches. Yet, I bite back, it will not be suppressed. Like a thoroughbred in the starting gate, my feet are stamping the earth, my knees knocking against the steel door. I await the spirited labor which courses through me and will soon be free. There is no way to cull the burgeoning, blossoming intoxication to hit the trail laden with the accoutrements of trailwork. When all else in life is a vortex, spinning and churning, few things are constant. But three trips a year for trailwork is certainly one of them.

    I had a realization the third time I hiked the Mt Tom Spur. Granted there are many areas like it in the Whites, but for some reason I gained an apperception that third time. Allow me to say this, I am no bushwhacker, but I do deeply admire those dedicated to the craft. To me, as a youngster, bushwhacking was a common practice, often involving the repercussion of retrieving the sapsled which I placed, either negligently or stupidly on some unperceived angle or slope. Perhaps you can picture the section of the Tom Spur I speak of. It is an incredible cross-section of spruce the trail meanders through. It is the thickness of spruce that tears at clothes, obliterates light, and impairs vision. It occurred to me, what sort of people were the trailmakers and pioneers? What mental strength did it require to do this? It began to dawn on me that trailmakers and trailworkers today need other tools that just those that we lay our hands upon.

    In so many cases they laid the foundation of trails for us but were not around to see the full manifestation, the magnitude, of what they have become. They brought with them their personalities, beliefs, and philosophies, and breathed life and expression into them, here in these mountains we call our own. They came with mental and physical determination. Be it conquest or service, they came with a spirit. Perceptive enough they were to realize that the same spirit that drove them would also call to us as hikers today. As both individuals and groups they came with the common goal of creating a runway for the alpine spirit to taxi and take off. Imagine the initial disbelief, then joy, if they could return 50 or 100 years from now and find their trails being maintained and used still. Today as trailworkers we have it easy compared to their exertions. The paths are made for us. There are no new vast trail networks being hewn. All we have to do is hold our ground, and we can. It's all the easier with more arms, legs, and minds to do it. That's right, minds.

    Because before one gathers their physical tools, they must first gather the tools of their mind. Without the mental motivation, the physical tools are powerless. You simply cannot have one without the other. Be it enthusiasm, dedication, devotion, or outright gratitude, it all starts in the deep recesses and chambers of a hiker's mind. It takes a great amout of hubris to follow in the tracks of those vastly greater than oneself, to know that at best, we can be but the caretakers of another's legacy, but that's what it is all about. After us, others will hopefully come. Yes, it will always require a powerful swing, an extended, outstretched clip or snip here and there, even at times a steady hand, or the acquired ability to withstand callouses that throb as if they have a pulse of their own. Most importantly it requires our mind. We can look to the past to secure the future. Call me a dreamer, but wouldn't it be fantastic if someday every trail in our Great State of New Hampshire were cared for wholly by adopters? Who knows?

    Many may be thinking that I'm "talking to the choir", as they say. Many on this Forum are adopters themselves, so they know of what I speak. But that?s great, it's something we can all relate to. But if you are one who is not and you enjoy so much the trails we all love, please give it some thought, it really does not take too much to adopt. While it is true, we will never measure up to those bodies and minds of the past, there is a somber but willing acceptance that one can ever play a supporting role in a great cause. But that is okay with me, I really do not mind at all.

    Here's a link to photos, including some more old logging equipment found:

    PS- This was one of the most beautiful days to hike! A short trip to Georgiana Falls on Saturday allowed us to see a grazing cow moose. It had been there awhile already, almost two hours, which caused a hiker to tell us there "must be something wrong with it." I said, "Oh yea, she has plenty of food and water, and is not being accosted by rutting bulls, I can't see why she doesn't move on either."When it came to trailwork, we have never seen so many hikers on Osseo in one day, including a running crew, a youth group, a crowd celebrating a Grid finish (to all of you I say thanks for sharing a brew with my bro-in-law while he waited for us!), and numerous others, we stopped counting at 40. Thanks to everyone for making it a spectacular day, and their encouraging thoughts! On trail by 7am and back to Lincoln Woods lot at exactly 745pm under awesome stars, darkness, and the Milky Way.
    Last edited by FisherCat; 10-05-2010 at 02:29 PM.
    "LIVE FREE OR DIE...DEATH IS NOT THE WORST OF ALL EVILS." Gen. John Stark. "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.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Thanked 372 Times in 193 Posts

    Default Nice!

    Inspiring report, great pics! Congrats to Kim! Many more!


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Sylva, NC
    Thanked 9 Times in 8 Posts


    Your posts are always interesting and thoughtful. Thank you.

    I'm a longtime trail maintainer. My first adopted trail: the A.T. between Sassafras Gap and Doe Knob (Smokies). My second: Carter-Moriah between Mt. Surprise and the summit of Moriah (Whites). My third and current one: the whole Enloe Creek trail (Smokies). (You see that I have bounced from the southern Appalachians and back.) I have loved all of these trails for these reasons:

    1. A.T. near Doe Knob: the best access to this trail section was an unmaintained trail called the Ekaneetlee manway that crossed a stream many times (you looked for the next informal cairn at each crossing) and wound between giant tulip poplars. Beautiful!

    2. Carter-Moriah: the views over to the Presies were priceless. I loved the sheep laurel and blueberries around the big ledges. Always timed myself on the ascent and kept trying to do better, with or without pick-mattock.

    3. Enloe Creek: incredibly beautiful trout streams (Enloe Creek and Raven Fork), towering ridges with giant spruce, the drive through the Cherokee Reservation to get there.

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