Trail Construction, White Mountains

Trail Construction - Rerouted section (left) of the Mt Tecumseh Trail in the Waterville Valley, New Hampshire.
September 2011, Mt Tecumseh Trail – Trail Construction
 

Trail Construction, White Mountains – In 2011, Tropical Storm Irene caused massive destruction along the East coast of the United States. The White Mountain National Forest was officially closed during the storm. Many trails in the White Mountains were damaged. And this series of photos shows how one trail that suffered storm damaged has changed since Tropical Storm Irene.

A section of the Mt Tecumseh Trail washed out and had to be rerouted. The above photo shows the junction of the trail reroute (left), and the section of trail that washed out (right) shortly after a Maine Forest Service crew cut the reroute in 2011. Forest Service chose the reroute location and marked it, and a Maine Forest Service crew, helping reopen trails damaged from Irene, did the cutting. The closed section of trail was also brushed in. This information is direct from Forest Service. Note the tree in the reroute (left) with the orange flagging on it.

Tropical Storm Irene washed out part of the Mt Tecumseh Trail, and this is the start of the trail relocation in March 2012.
March 2012, Mt Tecumseh Trail – Trail Construction
 

Above is how the start of the trail relocation looked in March 2012. Up to this point, little trail work had been done in this section. But it is interesting to note that the tree in the trail reroute that had the orange flagging on it in September 2011 now has a yellow trail blaze painted on it. So between September 2011 and March 2012, the trail relocation was blazed. It is unknown if a professional trail crew, volunteer or hiker did the blazing.

In 2011, Tropical Storm Irene washed out part of the Mt Tecumseh Trail in New Hampshire.
April 2012, Mt Tecumseh Trail – Trail Construction
 

By April 2012, the start of the trail reroute was flattened and lined with stones (above). The purpose of the stone walls may have been to direct hikers to the reroute, but considering how much brush blocked the closed section of trail they were really unneeded. It is unknown if a professional trail crew, volunteer or hiker built these walls. It is hard to see but take note the tree in the trail reroute with the yellow trail blaze on it is still upright.

Mt Tecumseh Trail in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. In 2011, Tropical Storm Irene caused major erosion along Tecumseh Brook, washing out part of the trail, and this is the rerouted section.
June 2012, Mt Tecumseh Trail – Trail Construction
 

After a trail inspection by Forest Service in June 2012, they (FS) removed some of the stones that lined the trail, and above is how it looked after they did that. A solid path had been established, and the stones lining the trail served no purpose. Most trail maintenance groups will build only needed stone structures along a trail, and they do it in such a way that the stonework looks natural. So removing the stones gives the trail a natural look. Note the tree with the yellow trail blaze on it is still upright, and how this section of trail, for the most part, is flat.

*For all the hikers, this situation is similar to the obtrusive scree wall that was built on Mount Bond awhile back. Forest Service had to correct the work of an overzealous do-gooder. I realize some will argue that was in alpine zone / designated wilderness, and this is not. But reality is the root cause of the problem is the same.

Hiking trail in New Hampshire.
June 2012, Mt Tecumseh Trail – Trail Construction
 

The above photo is an extreme crop of the June 212 photo. And it is used here to show the yellow trail blaze on the tree, and the terrain in this section of the trail relocation. For the most part, I would consider this section of the trail to be flat with just a slight rise (below the tree with the blazing on it).

July 2016 - Newly built stone steps in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire.
July 2016, Mt Tecumseh Trail – Trail Construction
 

In July 2016, a mini staircase (above) was built in this section of the trail. And in the process of building it the tree with the yellow blaze on it was pushed over and damaged. It is unknown if a professional trail crew, volunteer or hiker hiking the trail built it. Don’t laugh about the hiker building it. Some hikers, not all, are taking it upon themselves to do trail work on any given trail. But I am not suggesting that is the case here.

Newly built stone steps along the Mt Tecumseh Trail in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire during the summer months.
July 2016, Mt Tecumseh Trail – Trail Construction
 

Because this section of the trail is mostly flat the mini staircase maybe overkill, your opinion may differ. I think one stone step would have been sufficient here and would look natural. And building just one step wouldn't have damaged the tree with the blaze on it. In the trail maintenance world, when doing stonework less is better. Forest Service has already removed stonework from this section of trail, so it will be interesting to photograph this section again in a few years to see if there are any changes.

Being a photographer focused on conservation, I love documenting the trail work along the White Mountains trail system. It is a great way to show how Forest Service, with the help of local groups and volunteers, is trying to conserve the trails for future generations. But when I look at this series of photos, it appears one group is not on the same page as the others when it comes to doing only needed trail work. And if this is the case, it will cause issues in the long-term maintenance of this trail.

To license any of the above photos for usage in publications, click on the photo. And you can view more trail maintenance photos here.

Happy image making..


 

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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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