I went out and did another half mile of blaze refreshing on my section of trail today. Was hoping to hike a bit after that, but it was raining, and I didn't feel like getting soaked. So I went home. But my primary goal was accomplished.
Painting Trail Blazes 102 is going to just talk about some of the points involved with re-blazing a section of trail. Oh, and a couple of tips. The tips first- It was actually a perfect kind of day because it was warm enough to paint, but it was also cloudy. When you are constantly reaching up as high as you can and looking at where you are working, if it's sunny you'll have the sun in your eyes at least half the time. Cloudy is good.
Tip #2- for what it's worth. You might like some kind of eye protection. The bark chips off when you scrape the trees and goes flying. Right into those eyes you are looking up with.
So, my section of trail has had a lot of small trees die. And a lot of those trees are ones I had used for blazes. Another problem is a result of that. More sun has come in and young white pines are growing up between the large trees. In some cases, large trees that I had previously blazed are now obscured from view by the young pines.
The upshot of all this is that I had to move a lot of blazes. I painted new blazes on quite a few of the young pines. They may be bent or broken next winter, but one has to put blazes on something!
First let's talk about the ones I didn't have to relocate. Here's a nice new blaze painted over the top of an old one.
Now, let's talk about placement and dead trees. When the trail twists and turns through the woods, sometimes it's hard to find a tree that has grown in just the right place to be visible without being too close to the last blaze. The tree with an arrow pointing to it was a perfect one, and I had previously painted a blaze on it.
I said this in section 101, but I'll say it again. Don't go for the easy "slap on some new paint and call it good" attitude. The blaze is only as good as the bark on which it is painted. Loose bark= blaze that's coming down before its time.
That said, I was thinking that when I finished my section I might offer to help someone else who doesn't want to paint. But I may be approaching "had enough" for this year. I have one more day of blue, and then two days of white blazes on a spur trail to do just on my own section yet. We'll see how I feel then.
Don't forget that your scraper is your eraser. Don't leave old blazes on the trees that don't "work" any more. Scrape them off as much as possible. That's why I pulled down that one on loose bark. And if you make a big glob that makes your blaze too big, use the scraper to remove that too.
And... if you are painting a live tree it's good to err on the side of too narrow rather than too wide. As the tree grows, the blaze will spread and get wider and wider!
Hey! I do have an answer to that star shape on a cut tree from yesterday. My tree-savvy friend Robert explains, "That cross-sectional cut went thru a node from which the branches 'blossom' out." Makes sense! Why didn't I think of that?
I think I walked more with all the back and forth, but I'll only count 3 miles. NCT Hike 100 Challenge 2020 is at 71 miles.
Oh! And I heard Chorus Frogs and Spring Peepers. They were slow and lethargic, but they were awake!
North Country Trail, Lake County, MI. Freesoil Trailhead north and back
|See Painting Trail Blazes 102|