Repaired Trail Blazing, Trail Maintenance

Trail blazing along the Mt Tecumseh Trail in the White Mountains, New Hampshire USA. A proper blaze is a two by six inch rectangle. Spills and runs should be wiped away when applied, and once dried runs can be removed using proper techniques. See trail maintenance guidelines if you are unsure on proper blazing protocol. After a trail inspection by Forest Service in June 2012, they (FS) stepped in on the ongoing work. This dripping blaze has been removed by proper parties.
September 2011 – Improper Trail Blazing, Mt Tecumseh Trail
 

Repaired Trail Blazing, Trail Maintenance – Some of the issues along the Mt Tecumseh Trail in Waterville Valley New Hampshire have been addressed and corrected by Forest Service. I commend Forest Service for correcting issues along this trail. And it is satisfying to know they are taking the needed steps to improve the White Mountains trail system.

In 2011, while hiking the Mt Tecumseh Trail, I noted a trail blazing issue, so I reported it to Forest Service. The trail blazing was not per trail maintenance guidelines and ruined the overall beauty of the trail. The Ranger who looked into it and responded, via email, stated a bad can of paint was the cause. Included in this blog article are before & after photos of the trail blazing that was removed.

Blaze removal along the Mt Tecumseh Trail in the White Mountains, New Hampshire USA. This beech tree was improperly blazed in the 2011 season. In 2012 Proper parties (FS) removed the dripping blaze (bottom blaze) using proper protocol. In time the removed blaze will fade and not be visible. See how it looked before removal: http://bit.ly/12ECXJz
July 2012 – Repaired Improper Trail Blazing, Mt Tecumseh Trail
 

After a trail inspection of the Mt Tecumseh Trail in June 2012 by Forest Service Assistant District Ranger Tom Giles, properly trained parties corrected issues found along the trail. And they also removed the excessive trail blazing that I reported. Hopefully, the remaining issues will be addressed in the future.

Trail blazing along the Mt Tecumseh Trail at a brook crossing in the White Mountains, New Hampshire USA. Proper technique is two paint marks (on right) to indicate the trail turns right. After a trail inspection by Forest Service in June 2012, they (FS) stepped in on the ongoing work. The non-conforming blazing has been removed by proper parties.
September 2011 – Improper / Excessive Trail Blazing, Mt Tecumseh Trail
 

You can see in the included images that they took the time to properly remove the excessive trail blazing without damaging the bark of the trees. In time the removed trail blazing will fade away. And we will never know it was ever on the tree.

Blazing along the Mt Tecumseh Trail in the White Mountains, New Hampshire USA. This tree was improperly blazed and in June of 2012, after a inspection of the trail by Forest Service, a trail crew removed the improper blazing (left). In time the removed blazing will fade and won't be visible.
June 2012 – Removed Improper / Excessive Trail Blazing, Mt Tecumseh Trail
 

When painted trail blazes are removed from a tree sometimes the area of the tree that had the blaze on it is painted over with a color that is similar to the tree bark. But in this case, no cover up paint was used. As you can see in these images, they were able to remove most of the paint from the trees, so cover up paint was unneeded. You can see an example of when cover up paint was used here.

Trail blazing along the Mt Tecumseh Trail in the White Mountains, New Hampshire USA. A proper blaze is a two by six inch rectangle and should be placed on a tree as high as possible one can reasonably reach with a paint brush. After a trail inspection by Forest Service in June 2012, they (FS) stepped in on the ongoing work. Proper parties removed the blaze that was 2 feet off the ground (bottom blaze) using proper protocol.
September 2011 – Improper Trail Blazing, Mt Tecumseh Trail
 

One of the trail blazes along the trail was placed on the tree about two feet off the ground (above) making it useless. When painting a blaze on a tree, the general rule is to paint the blaze about head height on trees.

Blaze removal along the Mt Tecumseh Trail in the White Mountains, New Hampshire USA. A proper blaze is a two by six inch rectangle. It should be placed on a tree as high as possible one can reasonably reach with a paint brush. This beech tree was improperly blazed and in 2012 Proper parties (FS) removed the bottom blaze that was only 2 feet off the ground using proper protocol. In time the removed blaze will fade and not be visible.
June 2012 – Removed Improper Trail Blazing, Mt Tecumseh Trail
 

Proper trail blazing protocol seems to vary some among the trail maintenance organizations, but the ending result is the same. If interested in reading up on trail blazing protocol see the Randolph Mountain Club’s trail blazing protocol page here. I consider them be the best trail maintenance organization in the White Mountains.

Mt Tecumseh Trail in the White Mountains, New Hampshire USA. Trail maintenance handbooks suggest the best trails show little evidence of work and that work should blend in with its surroundings. In 2011, Tropical Storm Irene caused major erosion along the Tecumseh Brook, washing out part of the trail. This is the rerouted section.  After a trail inspection by Forest Service in June 2012, they (FS) stepped in on the ongoing work. The walls on each side of the trail have been removed. A solid foot path has been established in this section and the walls no longer serve any purpose.
2012 Before – Rock Walls on Side of Trail, Mt Tecumseh Trail
 

Some unneeded stonework (above) in the lower section of the Mt Tecumseh Trail, at the start of the Tropical Storm Irene reroute, was also removed. The rock walls on each side of the trail may have been intended to guide hikers to the reroute, really unneeded. Once a solid foot path formed in this section the walls no longer severed a purpose, so they were removed (below).

Mount Tecumseh Trail in the White Mountains, New Hampshire USA. In 2011, Tropical Storm Irene caused major erosion along the Tecumseh Brook, washing out part of the trail. This is the rerouted section. After a trail inspection by Forest Service in June 2012, they (FS) stepped in on the ongoing work. The walls that were on each side of the trail in this location were removed. A solid foot path has been established and the walls no longer serve any purpose, plus removing the stones gives the trail a natural look.
2012 After – Removed Rock Walls on Side of Trail, Mt Tecumseh Trail
 

If you come across any issues along the White Mountains trail system, report them directly to Forest Service. Reporting your concerns directly to them guarantees proper parties have been made aware of the issue. And you can do it anonymously if you are concerned about having your name dragged through the internet mud.

For the inspiring environmental photographer, though not always possible, before and after shots are excellent for documenting locations that are going through changes. This kind of imagery can also be used as an educational tool to promote responsible land stewardship.

To license the above images for usage in publications, click on the image. And you can view these before and after photos in a slideshow presentation here.

Happy image making..


 

Notes

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, the imagery tells the story.

The information included here is based on Forest Service’s protocol for trail blazing. (updated 04/2018).

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Erin Paul is a professional photographer who specializes in environmental conservation and historic preservation photography in the New Hampshire White Mountains. His work is published worldwide, and credits include; Backpacker Magazine, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and The Wilderness Society.

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