Mt Tecumseh Trail, New Hampshire – Today I hiked the Mt Tecumseh Trail in Waterville Valley to photograph a section of fairly new stonework. In October of 2011 I was asked to photograph this work, and at the time I questioned the quality of work, so I have continued to photograph it. The included photos show that the hillside is collapsing, and the steps are not holding up. This section will need to be maintained indefinitely or properly fixed.
I contacted Forest Service, and they said they are not doing any stone projects along the Mt Tecumseh Trail, and that all their focus is on trails damaged by Tropical Storm Irene. They also said volunteers are not supposed to be doing major stonework projects along adopted trails. Forest Service instructs volunteers to do only light trail maintenance. To date, no one has claimed responsibility for this section of stonework.
I decided to continue up the Mt Tecumseh Trail (beyond the above steps). And I was blown away when I came to the below 150 feet +/- staircase. This section of steps was not here on my last visit! The spacing of some steps seems off, and a handful are loose, which makes ascending and descending them a little awkward. And the footpath is only a foot wide in places. Hikers who meet in this section can not properly pass one another without one of them having to step on to the loose rocks that have been placed on the sides of the staircase.
The most intriguing stone structures on this trail are the open stone culverts (waterbars) that have been built along it. Some of them have been built in areas along the trail (below) that had no drainage problems to begin with. And they appear to serve no purpose or benefit the trail.
Trail stewardship groups promote that the best trails should show little evidence of trail work. I think some of the stonework along the Tecumseh Trail is unneeded, unnatural looking, and is bad for the trail. It is not the quality craftsmanship Forest Service has become known for doing in the White Mountains.
Why is a trail not impacted (for the most part) by Tropical Storm Irene receiving so much construction when there is a shortage of workers to repair trails damaged by Irene? This stonework seems a little out of control.
Happy image making..
My reportage of issues on Mt Tecumseh has upset a small circle of hikers. These hikers all have a connection to Tecumseh, and since reporting these issues to Forest Service, they have been bad mouthing my business. I know none of these hikers or the persons working this trail. And no matter what is said on social media, the imagery tells the story.
The information included in this article is based on leave no trace principals, low-impact trail building practices, and information from Forest Service. (04/2018) udpated the notes.
License any of the above images for usage in publications by clicking on the image.