Sunday, June 5, 2011

National Trails Day, Long Trail Maintenance

June 4, 2011

I enjoy volunteering for the Green Mountain Club. It's my way of saying thank you for keeping this national treasure alive. The Long Trail is the oldest long distance trail in the country and was the inspiration for the Appalachian Trail. All maintained by mainly volunteers. I am an active member in the Killington section (GMCKS) of this prestigious club and all of my volunteer work comprises of trail maintenance; getting my hands dirty.

Like all GMCKS hikes, we congregated at Main St Park in Rutland. On this particular day, a large group showed up and we all were assigned our tasks for the day. There was a tree cutting crew and a waterbar and small blowdown crew that both hit up Killington Peak. I was assigned with another gentleman, Dave,  who I have had the pleasure of doing trail work in the past, with replacing some puncheons (bog-bridging, plank bridging) just south of Maine Junction at Willard Gap.  

When Dave and I left the park we had to first go pick up these heavy duty planks & sills in Shrewsbury, drive back to Rutland then up towards Sherburne pass. By the time we got to the LT it was already close to 11:00am. We dropped the lumber alongside Rt4 and then trekked in to find our work site. Luckily what needed to be replaced was only 600 yards from the highway. We headed back to the road when Dave parked his truck and I grabbed the first plank and headed in. These suckers are heavy. A full 3" x 8" x 8' native hemlock. When I was heading back to the road, Dave passed me with his first plank and then a young man of the strong age of 21 was carrying a plank as well. Eric was riding his bike on this beautiful day when he saw Dave throw a plank over his shoulder. He thought it looked like fun to help out with a little trail maintenance and help he did. We had a total of 4 8 foot planks and 2 10 foot planks along with 7 10' x 10' sills that were 3 feet long. These sills weigh in around 75 lbs each. After we carried all the lumber in we took a small break and planned out our work.    

Dave carrying in a sill
First we had to remove the old rotten planks and sills and because they are non treated native hemlock were disposed of off trail left to compost naturally. After we removed all the old and were starting to put in the new, the president of the Killington section, Wayne showed up to see if we needed anything as far as tools, spikes etc and along with him was a camera man from the local television channel PEG-TV. They were shooting a short documentary on National Trails Day and the section's 100th birthday. After Wayne and the camera man left we finished up with the puncheon work and decided to hike north along the way. Eric had a prior commitment so we parted ways. He was given plenty of kudos as he strolled down the trail back to bike. Dave and I continued north to Willard Gap clearing out waterbars along the way.

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