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Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Blue Badge of Honor

The Spirit of the Woods Chapter of the NCTA held part one of a long-overdue blaze painting seminar today. One thing you are guaranteed to get when working with this paint is... blue. We wear it with honor! It's great to have an NCT sticker on your car, but you can always tell the real trail people. They also have blue paint somewhere on their cars. Maybe just a smudge, but no matter how careful you try to be... it will be there.
blue paint on hands

Six of us met. Pete and I served as trainers, explaining the standards, tips and tricks, etc.
painting trail blazes

Then we split into two groups and each went out to tackle a section of trail that was desperately in need of new blazes. Trevor, Dan and I worked together. We were a good team.

Just because, I'll show you some instructive blazes. This one is a testimony to the Nelson Blue paint (our official paint) being formulated specifically for use on trees. You can see how the lichen doesn't like to grow over the paint. Obviously, this blaze needs fixing, but regular paint would have simply disappeared several years ago.
trail blaze with lichen

Here is a lesson in what not to do. This tree has two really old blazes on it. The top one was a diamond shape at one time. It has been at least 25 years since anyone has painted any diamond-shaped blazes. So, don't do that any more. The official blaze is a 2"x6" rectangle. I don't know why the tree is cut in the middle of the diamond, but it was, and the size and shape suggest it had something to do with a blaze. Then there is the old blaze below the diamond. Someone scraped the bark of that tree too aggressively, it bled sap and then healed. But this tree now has two ugly scars.
old trail blazes

Finally, you may think that no matter how good a blaze painter you are, you can't prevent this. Pileated woodpecker- 1, blaze- 0. In one sense you are correct, but the woodpeckers prefer dead or nearly dead trees since they are going after insects. Occasionally, you are stuck with nothing to paint except a dead tree. But for the most part, avoid using them for blazes. The bark (and your blaze) peels, the trees fall over, or the woodpeckers have a party.
pileated woodpecker damage

Collectively, we reblazed 2.5 miles of trail in both directions. There will be 6 of us again tomorrow.

See Some Previous Blazing


Ann said...

excellent lessons in blaze painting.

The Oceanside Animals said...

Chaplin: "I think I might like to attend a woodpecker party ..."

Sharkbytes said...

Ann- we sure hope so!

Chaplin- it's like big scratching posts, and in the woods!