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Monday, December 21, 2020

Tips for Rerouting Trails

  Let me do the disclaimers right up front in hopes of preventing such a flurry of backlash about this post as the last one created. Yes, I am being critical of trail work. However, it is my right, and my responsibility to do so when I and my chapter are the guilty parties. I have no idea at this point what particular person or persons should have fixed this, although I would have to include myself in that number. So, I am not "calling anyone out." I am not whining. I always thank people for whatever trail work they are able to do.

This situation is probably a bit over half fixed.

Now for the blow-by-blow. Here is where Loren and I went wrong last Thursday. trail making a left turn

Now let me explain what you are looking at. The actual trail is the blue line. It makes an abrupt left. However, there had not been foot traffic ahead of us last Thursday making a nice line of footprints to follow. Do you see blue painted blazes? Two of them offset to make a turn marker? Don't bother straining your eyes. There aren't any. I've temporarily added two strips of pink flagging tape- see yellow arrow (can't get blue unless I order it)- so the turn is marked from either direction. Last week, there were branches weighted down by snow obscuring and confusing things everywhere.

The orange line is what Loren and I did. We went straight. Indeed, that was exactly what the trail used to do. And I'll point out one more thing I did here. I piled more brush where the green line is pointing to make it even more clear that is not the way to go. confusing trail junction

Loren and I thought the trail had gotten messier. But it's winter. And some sections didn't get very good care this year because... it's 2020, right? So we did turn around to check for blazes, but we found a couple. The one I showed you on Thursday was a really bad one. Some weren't much different from the ones that turned out to be the correct ones.

This is the lovely spot where we ate lunch and then turned around. There is a large white pine growing next to a large hemlock, and their canopies were so dense the snow did not reach the ground there. It's a very nice spot. But it's no longer on the real trail. bare ground under trees in snowy landscape

My mission today was to remove the old blazes from the previous trail so other people wouldn't get confused about where the trail was. Let me tell you, it was NOT hard to find the old blazes. They had never been removed, and without much trouble at all, I continued to follow them for half a mile. Looking at this picture, you sure wouldn't guess this trail had been abandoned for at least 12 years. old trail in the woods

In most places, the treadway was littered with debris and some fallen trees. In a few places I had to hunt around to find an old blaze. But I did continue to find them.

Finally, I came to this boardwalk. Aha! Now I know that this is the reroute that was done because of this area that was always wet. Even that boardwalk didn't solve the problem in spring or wet years. old boardwalk in the woods

However, I wasn't personally involved in this changed trail, and I sure didn't know how long of a detour this was going to be. I dropped a couple of pins on my map app, This old trail is at least 0.3 mile from the new trail. And I was clearly a long way from connecting back into it. I went a little farther, until I was having a lot more trouble finding the next old blaze. I will say that winter is a great time to do this, because all I had to do was follow my own footprints back out. Still, I wanted to be done before dark, so I turned around. I'll have to bushwhack in to find the bridge again to finish this project, unless I can find where the old trail joined at the south end. I do have the old maps, so I might be able to figure it out.

Every old blaze I found, I scraped off. This included tearing down about ten of the old plastic nail-up diamonds. The ease with which I found the old trail was amazing. It's a testament to the durability of that paint.

I just liked this tree, curling in two different directions.
tree with an odd Y

And, there were a lot of giant white pine that the loggers missed or left for some reason. These two were growing close together.
large white pine

Anyway, I walked about six miles, but not fast because of hunting for blazes, and then scraping them off. I'm tired, but feel pretty satisfied with the day's project. Now, I just have to finish it. Another day.

So... if you are going to do a reroute, just be very, very careful to mark the new turns and obliterate the old trail. Hunter (I assume) tracks were cris-crossed in a few places, so don't just think that no one will ever find the old blazes. And Loren and I are both experienced hikers, and yet on the wrong day, in the wrong season, look where we ended up.

North Country Trail miles for this year: 269 (I'm going to count the mile of old trail.)

In other news: I did a little editing, but that's about it. Oh yeah, and I was hungry, so I bought a deli sandwich at West Shore Market (the new one across the street). Wow! $3.63 cents for a homemade bun, two slabs of meat, cheese and condiments. It was real food, not fast rubbery yuck. This is either good or bad news. It was good and way too easy, but it was bad because I may be tempted to do that too often. You pay by weight, so you can choose anything you want. I had black forest ham and swiss cheese on whole wheat.

North Country Trail, Lake County, MI, South of Freesoil Trailhead, 3 miles and back

See The Joke's On Us


Lin said...

I am happy (and not surprised) that you went back to mark this trail again. I'm still shaking my head at the response...but, oh well...it's over and you are making it better.

Nice to have that little store so close. You can just walk down there for whatever you need. NICE!

Ann Thompson said...

I can see how this could get confusing. A lesson for anyone who marks these trails. Glad to hear it's being taken care of

Sharkbytes said...

Lin- you didn't even see the firestorm in the NCT group!

Ann- yup- who would believe that two people who know this section well would get off the main trail?