Proper Trail Blaze – Artist's Bluff Path, New Hampshire
Trail Blazing, Trail Stewardship – Painted trail blazing (paint marks on trees that mark the path of a trail) along the White Mountains trail system is an endless complaint among outdoor enthusiasts. Either the trail is excessively blazed or not blazed enough. I don’t mind the trails that have little trail blazing, but I'm not a fan of the excessive trail blazing.
Proper trail blazing protocol seems to vary among the trail maintenance organizations, but the ending result is the same. Most of these organizations agree that a standard trail blaze is a two inch by six inch rectangle placed about head height on trees. No painting of arrows, only a single vertical blaze, should be painted on a tree. For more information on blazing see the Randolph Mountain Club’s trail blazing protocol page.
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.