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Sunday, March 28, 2010
Did you ever wonder how trails get marked so that people can find them? Often it's due to the efforts of volunteers. This is almost exclusively true on National Scenic Trails like my favorite, the North Country Trail. I personally maintain a section, and I went to work on it some today. That means that I took a hand saw, clippers, scraper, and a jar of the official blazing paint. This is what the trail looks like just as you leave this road. The next blaze is a blue mark on a tree. Can you find it?
The picture was too small to really see it. But when you are standing at that post, you can easily see it. That's the point... to be able to see just one more blaze from the one you are at. The paint blazes last quite well. The official paint is oil based, so it's a really messy job. I keep a set of old clothes to wear just for this. You have to first scrape the outer bark (not damaging the live tissue of the tree) to make a smooth place for the paint to adhere. You always get bark in your face and eyes. Then paint the blaze, making nice square corners, 2 inches by 6 inches.
This is how you know when to turn. The top blaze is offset in the direction of the turn, left in this case. I didn't finish my section today. I haven't touched up the blazing in a few years, and it's going to take a few trips to get it all done. I also cut out a couple of fallen trees. If there are any big ones, I let the chain saw crew know, but I got the ones today with a bow saw.
Blazing is really messy and nasty work. I kept it up for 2.5 hours today, and that was plenty. My right shoulder is bad, and it was telling me it had had enough. But I like knowing that people can easily find the trail.