The fall season is usually a bit colder and a bit less chaotic than the summer season. This fall season was no exception. AMC’s own White Mountain Professional Trail Crew started by implementing a mile long reroute of the Iron Mountain Trail in Jackson NH. The process was simple in theory – follow the flagged path, cut the trees, rip out the stumps, and then figure out what the area needs from there. However, theories don’t show the whole picture. Finding an appropriate and consistently sustainable route proved one of the most difficult tasks. Small sections of trail were re-rerouted in order to create the best trail possible, while also accounting for the lackadaisical way hikers tend to use trail. This concept paled in comparison to one particularly difficult area that became known as “the hole.” The hole was originally a group of trees with rather persistent stumps. A grip hoist was used to remove these obstacles, however not without creating a giant hole, hence the name. (I guess we weren’t feeling very clever that day). Like the rest of the project though, “the hole” was dealt with, fixed, and made sustainably beautiful – it just took about a week longer and triple the amount of crush as any other structural project. Over the six weeks, the route was found, each persistent stump was taken out, numerous log retention structures and even an impromptu staircase were built, and bioengineering (the contested buzzword of the project) was implemented successfully. This culminated in a new, much less treacherous, way to reach the summit of Iron Mountain. In collaboration with the Trail Collective and Forest Service, the new and improved Iron Mountain was blazed and opened on September 30th, seemingly much to the praise of the surrounding public. This was all completed with only one lunch stolen and subsequently eaten by a dog, thank you Ellie May.
The final project of the season, implementing and updating rock structures along the Lonesome Lake Trail, was when winter really began. We were blessed with two and a half solid weeks of work. In that time our crew was able to build two staircases, two sets of check steps, and a water bar or two for a total of fifty six rocks laid in the earth. Unfortunately, the winter season does not forgive the way the summer does. We faced freezing temperatures, heavy rain, and the beginnings of snow. We simply could not get our work done correctly in these conditions. Returning to Iron Mountain alternatively proved well for a few days. We were able to put finishing touches on our previous work, re-evaluate some difficult sections, and see how the trail was holding up to the general public. Each hiker we saw thanked us for our work, which of course isn’t necessary, but it felt good to make a difference on this lesser known trail. We are now wrapping up our season with the closure of Camp Dodge and by getting ready for next year: assessing damages, sharpening tools, cleaning the shop and our living space, and preparing Camp Dodge and its resources for the harsh winter. So as I am sitting here, writing this to you in the shelter of a fully cleaned Hutton III wondering how on earth we could possibly lay rocks in what I can only imagine is a pure raging river on the Lonesome Lake Trail, all I can say is – I’m really glad we had a chance to put some of those structures in; hopefully they’ll help.