New Staircase (2016) – Mt Tecumseh Trail, New Hampshire
Mt Tecumseh Trail, New Hampshire – For five years (2011-2016), I documented issues on Mt Tecumseh in New Hampshire. In my opinion, what has happened to the Mt Tecumseh Trail over the last few years is a disgusting display of conservation and trail stewardship. The new stonework built along this trail is all about quantity, not quality, and I question what low impact, sustainable, trail work is.
In August 2016, for the second time since 2012, the Pemigewasset District of Forest Service, at the request of the Washington Office, inspected the ongoing stonework along the Mt Tecumseh Trail. According to a letter I received from Forest Service Supervisor, Tom Wagner, the stonework is “satisfactory” for Forest Service Trail construction standards. And they did find issues that would be taken care of in the future. The definition of satisfactory is “fulfilling expectations or needs; acceptable, though not outstanding or perfect.”
Open Stone Culvert – Tecumseh Trail, New Hampshire
Sustainable Trail Work, White Mountains – Here in New Hampshire, all we hear about is environmental friendly and sustainable trail work. And how important it is to conserve the trails for future generations. As an environmental photographer, I support this approach to preserving the trail system. And up until a few years ago, I have always believed that the organizations maintaining our trails practiced what they preached.
I recently made my monthly hike to Mt Tecumseh to photograph the summit vandalism. I was on the Tecumseh Trail after a rainstorm and was surprised at how many open culverts (water bars) were dry. The purpose of a trail culvert is to drain water off and away from the trail, and the culverts included in this blog article were all dry.
October 2011 – New Trail Blaze, Mt Tecumseh Trail
Trail Work, Poor Trail Blaze Removal Practices – Since 2011, I have been making regular trips to Waterville Valley, New Hampshire to photograph a yellow birch tree that has fallen victim to vandalism. The damaged tree, when ascending the trail, is on the right just after exiting the Irene reroute. I am using repeat photography to show the impact of improper trail blaze removal. This type of photography is useful for educating land stewards and others about responsible environmental stewardship.
In October 2011, I documented newly applied trail blazing (above) along the Mt Tecumseh Trail in Waterville Valley. Sometime in the spring of 2012, the blaze on the left side of the yellow birch tree in the above image was improperly removed from the tree. And a large wound (below) where rot, fungus, and insects could enter the tree was visible. The bark, where the blaze was, appeared to have been cut and peeled away from the tree.
Bent Yellow Birch Tree – Lafayette Brook Scenic Area, New Hampshire
Forest Disturbances, New Hampshire – As an environmental photographer, I am fascinated with all aspects of the forest, and understand why some photographers focus entirely on forest photography. The forest seems to be in a constant battle to survive and its very existence is similar to the human race.
Many of the trees you see bent and snapped in the forest are the result of weather related disturbances. The yellow birch tree (above) more than likely grew like this because of heavy loads of snow resting on it, causing it to bend, when it was a young tree. And it continued to grow even though it was bent. You will find many trees like this one in the New Hampshire White Mountains.
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.