5 Days, 5 Pics
Hopefully, no one misses my usual sentimental, philosophical TR. Because this one is neither of the two. This was a week all about labor, grunting, sweat, scrapes, bruises, blazing, bars, blood, blisters (someone else's), and brushing. So here goes, a nontraditional TR for me. Five days, five pics.
Day 1 found Klutzy Kat and I hoofing it up Liberty Spring Trail to the Flume Slide Trail. It was a warm day, but nothing too exceptional. We had two goals. One, this was a Patrol Trip for me, identifying needs for trail hardening and erosion. FST doesn't have a ton of bars, but over the years it has developed a few mucky, muddy, wet spots that were not there prior. So, these were duly noted and will be submitted to the AMC in the event they are deemed too much for a lone Adopter to handle. Plus, sometimes special rock hardening techniques are needed.
In any event, the pic for the day reveals a true need, blazing. The entire trail needs it, this is due to the fact that it also needs to be brushed out. Klutzy Kat and I did necessity brushing so blazes can be seen in the future, while primary blazing will be handled by the Adopter, so here you can see her putting up a blaze on a crucial corner for winter hikers where the trail turns off the old logging road grade and begins to climb the shoulder of Liberty. Our long-term goal was to reach the oft complained about 5th brook crossing for winter hikers, but alas, we only made it as far as the 3rd crossing for the day, but we would be back.
Day 2 was part work, part play. I did a Patrol early in the day. Then we bounced, weaved, and hooked our way down Mt Clinton Rd to meet an old childhood friend of mine, who incidentally, is also one of my brother's sister's-in-law (got that?) C is presently working on her 48 and her 2 daughters came along as well. It was a beautiful day for the Big E and we headed up Edmands Trail with great weather. Her daughters don't hike much, though one enjoys it much more than the other. We were all talking and laughing, remembering old hikes, thinking about future ones, and were totally distracted. I took the lead above treeline and was so lost in conversation, not paying attention, that instead of breaking right and heading up to Eisenhower, I shanked left and we headed towards Franklin and Monroe. I turned around at one point as big, white puffers were hiding and exposing features, only to see the big cairn atop E prevalent behind us. Gosh dang it, the girls are going to kill me. To their credit, not a single complaint, we all filed back, lunched atop Eienshower, and enjoyed a mellow trip down.
Day 3 was a bit more humid and hot. I trunged up Lonesome Lake Trail listening to everyone talk about swimming at the Lake. What an awesome idea I thought to myself, somehow I have to shave some time off the day and buy out a few minutes to do so myself. But the clock was ticking as we were due at my brother's for dinner with our entire (yet small) family. The goal for today was a Patrol & Scout, for on Thursday we were meeting a new Adopter who took on the upperhalf of the Lonesome Lake Trail this year. I have hiked this trail many times and encountered few. Not so today, for I bumped into 7 hikers throughout the trek. But I outlined my task by making mental notes on the way up, and more precise on the way down. I reached Coppermine Junction in an hour and ten minutes, not too bad I thought to myself, at least not for lugging all the tools on the way as well. The trail was in need of some brushing, which I did on the way down, and some new bars that we could install the next day, blazing would need to be done too, as some former trees used for blazing had fallen victim to storms over the years. But the main conclusion for the day was this. If you are doing Cannon, go this route. Its pretty, has a great section of boreal forest after the steep levels out, and it is sooooooooo much better than the badly eroded, neglected Kinsman Ridge Trail approach from the Tram lot or the equally dire Hi-Cannon approach, which is also in sore need of erosion control. I also learned if you want to go swimming at the Lake, give yourself ample time, for as sweaty, gross, dirty, and smelly as I was, I ran out of time to do so. I did meet a very nice, new NH State Park Ranger who was on her way up to the Hut to discuss some of the interpretive programs the State offers for visitors. She was super cool, and a recent transfer from the West Coast. We had some nice discussions about the "East Coast, White Mountain NH" way of doing things.
Ah, Day 4, we kicked some butt today. L is the new Adopter for the upper section of Lonesome Lake Trail, and requested a little extra guidance for her trail's specific needs after the Skills Session. We were glad to help. We bashed it but good. We cleaned out all old bars, installed new ones, and cleaned up outflow ditches as well. All this to control erosion and water flow from hitting and soaking the flats just before the bog bridges. When it came to building new wood waterbars there was a cornucopia of windfall spruce all over the place, it was a blast, and my Oxschenkopf axe was singing in the still, humid, moist air. We lunched at Coppermine Junction just in time to have a large group of not prepared hikers come bustling down to us asking where the Lake was. We told them they still had a mile to go, and seeing how they had no fluids or food, street sneakers had ridden up on the Tram, the wisest course may be (up to their discretion, of course) to return to the top of the Tram. They asked about going out all the way to the Lafayette Campground, then hoofing it back up the Bike Path. We calculated the mileage for them, and they seemed a bit overwhelmed. In addition, an adult member had turned up a bit lame with bad blisters, so there I was johnny- on- the- spot with my First Aid training and equipment and helped him out. Leaving them to come to a concensus (the kids wanted to push on, the adults not so much) they decided to turn back to the Tram, and thanking us for the advice, they went back. I want to say that L is a real workhorse. She has many commitments, not only her job, but also with NH Audobon and the SPNH, and here she was bustin' hump with us. What an inspiration, and she is a great volunteer to have on board in the Franconia South Region. On the way down we brushed and blazed some more, and finally L had to leave, already staying beyond her backin' out time. Klutzy Kat and I blazed until we ran out of paint, a mere 9 blazes from completion, then headed out ourselves, opting to take the Dodge Cut-Off & Hi-Cannon route out. As a note, the 2nd bridge on Lonesome Lake is scheduled to be replaced in the next 2 weeks, yes, that's the teetering, leaning one. And extra special kudos to the Croo that installed the new bridge at the trailhead. It specifically outlines the trail corridor, helping to ease erosion due to a multitude of herd paths along the brook bank.
And finally, Day 5, or as we called it: Flume Slide Redux. A few comments on this trail. It has been described as "seldom used". I would like to say I do not believe this is the case any longer. I have seen an ever growing number of hikers, of all abilities, over the years, and the same was true this visit. And I know what everyone is gonna say, "that trail needs a good brushing!", and of course, that is correct, it does. Allow me to say that some circumstances prevented the Adopter from getting on the trail last year, and this year those circumstances have eased, so it is my hope that soon this will be rectified. But for us working it this week, we wanted to help ease the confusion for summer and winter hikers, especially at all the brook crossings, so blazing was our priority. The last brook crossing was the one that needed it most, especially for the winter hikers. Though there was a faded blue blaze on a rock on the opposite bank, (which you can make out in the pic, it just can't fade fast enough for me) this would be no help to a winter hiker, and we don't blaze on rocks anyway. Throw in the fact that there were not too many prevalent trees (actually, try NONE) on the opposite bank, this would require more measures. So with loppers and my trusty new tool of the year, my Stihl PS 60, I went to work. As a result, there is a more defined trail corridor as well as a nice up-and-high blue blaze on a birch, that is, and will be, readily seen. The fruitage of this day's labors, therefore, are best exemplified by Pic #5, the above referenced brook crossing, new and improved, or at least I think so. We didn't get all the way to the base of the Slide (our goal) but we sure came close.
In conclusion, what a great week. Klutzy Kat is a blazing machine, and if you think OCD is a hinderance, well apply it to blazing and you will come to a different conclusion. I can't think of a better way to spend a week, with great people, the best mountains in the world, and the driving force of doing something, not because you have to, or get paid to, but for the sheer joy of wanting to.
And if anybody wants to hop on board, I have only one section of trail in the Region to be adopted, the stretch of Lonesome Lake from the Lafayette Campground up to Lonesome Lake. We would be glad to count you among our own.
Happy & safe trails!
Fisher & Klutzy Kat
"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.