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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Moose Mountains Reservation 3/22-24/12

"Our Hard Work Pays Off!" (pictures)

When we got the news that the SPNHF Land Steward Manager Carrie and Forester Wendy would be coming to check out our trail and other work we were so excited! We had worked very hard on Beauty Ledge trail and had already seen substantial traffic and many compliments. Now we would see if it would stand up to the experts! The date was set for Friday 3/23/12. We picked at the trail all  week in the small window of time between when Scott got home at 3pm and having to eat a quick dinner at 5:30/6pm and then both of us heading back out to work. We got blue paint blazes up and pink tape down on Tuesday prior to a group hike that was headed there for Wednesday headed by our MMR regulars Jill & Marty. We then worked on getting some spots cleaned up and built a culvert for a spring we found next to the trail.

Friday arrived and we met Carrie and her dog at the parking lot for 9am. Wendy was running late and said she would meet us on Phoebes Nable Mt. So we headed up the logging roads that will be the new Phoebes Nable Mt. trail, Carrie mapping the trail on her GPS to update the map. The day was already turning out to be beautiful! Cool temperatures, warm sun and a slight breeze! We arrived at the summit and had a snack. We also searched for a geo-cache that was hidden near the summit. I found it and we checked out it's contents before returning it. Soon Wendy arrived, also with her dog and unusually worn out as she was fresh off recovery from a torn ACL. We chatted about the view cut that needs to be done here and let Wendy catch her breath.

We all now headed down the Phoebes Nable Mt. trail towards the Burrows Farm. At the field we noted a flooded area needing some work and checked out a gate. We also viewed some of the apple trees that we will be pruning soon after our class on April 7. Wendy, ever so observant spotted some new apple tree sprouts coming from a dead tree which was exciting! She also spotted pussy willow near the home site boulder. Carrie explained some of the pruning techniques we would be learning.

We then headed down Burrows Farm trail for the parking lot. At the North trail junction we ran into Jill and Marty. Always nice to see them enjoying the Reservation and always so friendly. We introduced them to Carrie and Wendy and we chatted a bit. They headed for the Moose Pond trail and we headed back to the parking lot. We had a snack and talked about other things needing to be done here this summer. We now drove up to the Beauty Ledge trail.

We began up the trail and soon Wendy and Carrie were giving pointers. We arrived at Snapping Turtle Rock and Wendy had us climb it for pictures. We continued on passing in front of the ledge and switch-backing through the pine grove past the small spring we had worked on that Carrie dubbed "the dog bowl". So far everything was going well and we were getting plenty of positive and helpful feed-back on the trail!

We arrived at the ledge climb. I asked if they liked my stone stairs. They said they looked good as Wendy joked with me by rocking on a loose rock, LOL! After the ledge climb we arrived at a beautiful rock slab covered in lichen. We explained that the trail originally climbed this, but once the snow melted completely we noticed the delicate beauty of this spot and thus reverted the trail around it. They were impressed by this!

We soon arrived at the knob and circled around and down to the ledge. Both were impressed with the view and we spent a good 20 minutes here relaxing and chatting in the sun. They both admitted they were nervous as to what the trail would look like and said it was well thought out and well built! Yay, we completed our first trail and our hard work paid off! Before leaving this area we brought them to another knob and ledge we found and would like to make a trail to and then headed down Beauty Knob trail.

Beauty Knob trail was a booby-trapped trail of ankle twisting pungy sticks! We had marked it out when the ground was visible, but cut it after the 10" leap day snow fell. So we had cut stumps sticking up everywhere! Otherwise they were happy with the trail route and approved it to be cleaned and blazed! We completed the loop heading down North trail and picked up trash along the way. Back at the trucks Wendy gave us a couple tools that would help with our trail building. Back at the parking lot Wendy cut up some brush that was sticking out into the lot entrance a little and we talked about the Phoebes Nable trail head. We agreed to scrap the muddy skid road and use a more grown in road further down.

This concluded the day. We got to discuss our plans, their plans and got to spend some quality time with two great people! The weather was fabulous, ticks were few in number and we all enjoyed our day! We had so much energy and enthusiasm that instead of taking a much needed break from our work up here, we headed back for more on Saturday! We began at the flooded area where Burrows Farm trail leaves the field and enters the woods. Scott dug a trench out and we both worked on digging and moving rocks to get the water to drain. We built up a rock retaining wall and placed stepping stones. The wall also acted as an obstruction to discourage ATV's from entering the woods road. We erected and old sign post and posted orange signs. By the time we were done 2/3 of the water had drained :) We also installed a couple new signs.

Then we headed up to Beauty Knob trail. We ate our bagged lunch then began our work at the trail head. We started out by putting up the trail sign and then began the cutting, raking and stump/rock removal. We got a third of the trail done before getting tired out and having to call it a day. A couple more days and this trail will be completed and we can then move on to Phoebes Nable Mt. trail! Oh, the excitement and joy! It's just now starting to really sink in that we actually built a hiking trail! It's such an awesome accomplishment for us! Plenty more to come!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Beauty Ledge Trail Work 3/17&18/12

"A Little Bit of Everything" (pictures)

A beautiful weekend on the way and the news that Carrie and Wendy from the Forest Society would be paying us a visit on the coming Friday, we were all geared up to get Beauty Ledge trail completed. We had been working on signs for a couple weeks and they were finally done and ready to hang. Sunday morning rolled around and the weather was anything but beautiful. It was cool, damp and windy. So we worked on new signs together to pass some time, breaking yet another piece of equipment in the name of volunteerism...the sander. So Scott went out and bought a new one, it was time for a new one anyway.

The weather finally improved mid-afternoon and we headed up to Beauty Ledge Trail with our new signs. We hung the trail head sign o the birch tree and it looked oh-so-good with the white lettering playing against the white birch! On up the trail we stopped regularly to cut exposed stumps we missed and to do some spot raking.

After the steep climb up a ledge section we came to a large rock slab that the trail was originally slated to climb. Looking now with the snow gone off this area, it was apparent the trail had to be reverted. The rock was covered with pretty, delicate lichen that I didn't want to see trampled. So we flagged out a new trail that swung to the right around the rock and climbing up on the back side to the top of it and rejoining the trail.

We now arrived at the Beauty Knob junction and hung the two signs for this section. One tree gave us some difficulty, breaking two lag screws. We won the battle in the end and this beautiful sign now points the way to the knob and ledge! We climbed up to the knob finding a fresh, large blow-down right across the trail...go-figure! Luckily it was dead and hollow so easy to move with the two of us given the size of this obstruction!

Up on the knob we placed the summit sign and a "to ledge" sign. We then walked down to the ledge to check out the view of the now thawed landscape. Except for Bowser Pond which was still 3/4 frozen. Scott spotted, as he always seems to do, a porcupine in a tree next to the ledge. We walked over and checked it out. These guys are so cute sitting high up in the trees!

The sun beginning to fall behind the Moose Mountain range, I stopped back at the knob to get some pictures in of the lichen and the setting sun shining off the pine trees. and then headed down doing some spot cleaning as we went. We ended the day at the kiosk walking up the woods road that will be an extension of Phoebes Nable Mt. trail. A truck had apparently done some mudding up the road. What aggravated me most was he ran over a stick with pink tape on it that was marking the site of an orchid that I found last summer. Back on the road we stopped at a woods road that is at the point just before the tar changes to dirt. This connects to Phoebes Nable Mt. trail and will be called South trail. No sign of truck activity here or up on the landing, so we were happy with that.

Sunday brought a mild morning and thoughts of finishing the trail cleaning. A face book friend mentioned she and her friends would be climbing the trail today, so that was exciting to hear and I hoped to see them up there and hear what they thought of the trail! The day started as it ended Saturday. Us checking out the truck trail and we wondered if it got past a blown down tree we left mostly intact to discourage truck use. Sure enough he didn't get past this and had turned around. This satisfied us and back at the parking lot we blocked this road with some rocks and logs and placed a "no motorized vehicles" sign on a nearby tree in hopes of discouraging trucks and ATV's.

This task done we also stopped at Piper Mt. trail where most of the ATV traffic is coming from and put up "no motorized vehicle" signs here too. It would be nice to gate some of these access points but is proving difficult with them being town roads and class six roads that can't be legally gated. It's rather frustrating to see the roads getting torn and mucked up and trash being discarded from the ATV users and not really being able to do much about it! Now it was off to what we came here for. We headed up Beauty Ledge trail with our loppers, shovel, hoe, metal rake, work gloves and our packs with our lunch in them! It was already getting warm and we were in T-shirts in no time! We dropped our bags at the split rock above the steep/ledgy section and began our work on the new by-pass trail around the lichen-rock area trying to avoid the fresh moose poop that was along many parts of the trail.

After marking, cutting and raking this area we worked our way down to the steep section. Scott continued cutting and raking as I attended to making some steps on a loose, steep section of dirt. After rolling 2 large rocks over and messing with them for a good 10 minutes I added a third to the mix and another 10 minutes later got them aligned just right to create good steps that didn't move under the weight of hikers.

Needing a break at this point we headed up to the ledge with our drinks and an energy bar to relax a bit and re-nourish ourselves. After returning to our bags we grabbed our equipment and headed back up to the knob to work on the upper section. As we got back into the woods a prop plane went over head at tree level and right over the ledge! Too bad we weren't still out there! We continued raking and cutting and then headed back to our bags. Back at our base camp four ladies came up the trail led by the lady that follows the MMR face book group page. We chatted briefly and they all had great things to say about the trail, yay! They headed up to the ledge and we plopped down for lunch!

Our lunch consumed we headed down the trail to work on the area below the steep/ledgy section. Scott continued cutting and raking as I worked on leveling out the ledgy area. Rocks needed to be moved around and others rolled over to make more of a terraced ascent. After all the work we both did in what was turning out to be a hot day in the sun, we called it a day. We touched up a few spots in the two pine areas on the way down. As we got back onto North trail an ATV was just coming up Piper Mt. trail as we passed, guess they couldn't read the bright orange sign! We were happy to get back to the truck and on the road with a breeze blowing in to cool us down!

Total of 7 hours over the weekend! It's well worth the time and energy...and sore bodies! We just have a little more raking and stump removal and then the blazing and the trail will be completed! Got to see a nice sunset over Sunrise Lake on our way home Saturday :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Moose Mountains Signage & Trail Work 3/11/12

"Spring-ing into 2012 with New Trails & Signs!" (pictures)

After spending the week with great weather of which time we began to stencil, stain, urethane and paint trail signs the weekend rolled around. Most of the snow had melted that is until a couple inches fell early Saturday morning. Sunday looked to be a beautiful day and sure enough the morning proved to be promising. We packed up a lunch and our tools and headed for MMR to continue working on trails and to put up two of the signs we finished.

We arrived at the parking lot to find two vehicles there. I drove up to the North trail where met a man starting up North trail and said he was headed for Beauty Knob and Ledge to a geo-cache. We were taken back by this, we hadn't even finished the trail yet and already it's getting well known, my how news travel when your plugged into the Social network!We headed up Burrows Farm trail to put one of the new signs up for Moose Mountains Trail.

After doing this we headed for Phoebes Nable Mt. to affix the new summit sign and work on the new section of trail on the South-East side of the mountain. Before reaching the field we noticed deer tracks and Scott noticed what looked like drops of blood all over the place where ever the deer went. We wondered what had happened to it! We passed through the field and at the Phoebes Nable Mt. trail junction Scott noticed a bee/hornet nest in the birch trees. This is the second one of these things he's spotted on the reservation! After some pics and looking over to the ledge on Moose Mountains we need to find sometime, we made the steep climb to the Phoebes Nable summit.

As we went to put the sign up I went to get the socket out of my pocket but couldn't find it. After some fumbling and searching it donned on me I had left it sitting on the ground back where we put the last sign up. Argh!! So we headed back down to get it. Sure enough it was sitting right there! We made the hike back up and began screwing the sign onto the tree.  In the process the ratchet slipped out of Scott's hand and hit him smack-dab in the forehead. It looked like it hurt and sure enough it left a bruise and small bump there! We weren't having much luck today on this mountain!

Now we began cutting out the trail from just below the summit area and joining onto an old skid road and logging road. We worked our way down to the junction we had left off at last time. Then headed down another skid road we had found last time that brings us back down to the bridge just before North Trail, which we will cut and mark sometime and will be naming it Phoebes Link. We jumped in the truck and made the arduous drive up the snowy North road to it's large upper landing. Once here we ate our much needed lunch.

Re-energized we headed up the new Beauty Knob trail. I noticed large animal prints in the snow which I think are the ones mentioned on the geo-cache right up. They stated they saw bear tracks. These looked like bob cat tracks to me though. Cool! On the trail we began touching areas up we had cut a couple weeks prior and made our way up to the knob and ledge. There was still plenty of snow on the ground so there would be no ground work done today. We took in the view at the ledge and listened as some ATV's made there way down the roads. We then thought we we explore the area some more and look for another ledge we had spotted from Phoebes Nable Mt. trail. Passing by boulders we soon came to another knob area and below a small ledge with an uninhibited view of Phoebes Nable Mt. We named the area Boulder Knob and Ledge and plan on adding this to the trail at some point! Having spent 6 hours here today we were sore and tired and ready to head back to the truck and head home. A great day to get work done and it has been such fun improving this reservation for everyone's enjoyment :) More trail signs to come soon and blazes will be up on the new trails soon too!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Beauty Ledge & Phoebes Nable 3/4/12

"A Snow Shoe Figure 8 at Moose Mountains" (pictures)

Yes, here we were again at Moose Mountains! After getting 10 inches of snow and not having much time on the snow shoes this year we opted to stay close and keep it simple. Besides, MMR is always a great visit especially now that we have a trail to an awesome ledge! We began our trip at about 9:45am. I tried to drive into the parking lot but my truck wouldn't make it. So I parked at the end of the drive. We began our walk on Burrows Farm Trail then at the junction took a right onto North Trail. The snow mobile trail runs along this section and it had certainly been used a little.

We followed the North Trail to it's upper junction at a large clearing. Here we took a sharp left into the trees along the soon-to-be Beauty Knob trail (pink tape). It was a lovely moderate climb and soon we were at the junction for Beauty Ledge Trail. A short distance we were over the knob and down on the ledge. What a beautiful view! And the sun came out just in time as we stood on the ledge. We took a short break then headed down Beauty Ledge trail down past Snapping Turtle Rock and back down to North Trail.

From here we hooked a right back onto Burrows Farm trail and headed up past the Burrows Field and up Phoebes Nable Mt. We ate our lunch here as we talked about everything we saw and ideas for what needs to be done this year for work. Once again the sun came out conveniently as we took our rest on the top of the mountain. Soon we headed down the other side of the mountains on Phoebes Nable Mt. trail (pink tape). We got some nice views of Beauty Ledge from certain points along the way. Making several turns we finally ended up back at the parking area at 1:15pm. Where there were two other vehicles now parked, one was one of our MMR friends...must have missed them!

Not a bad day. The snow was a little tough to walk in as it had a crusty layer on top of the rain the day before. And later in the day it had become soft from the sun popping out now-and-then. The sun hid most of the day. But when it broke through the clouds it was bright and warm. It was a great hike making the several loop options! 3.5 hours round trip approximately 4.5 miles...not bad! Oh, and someone carved their initials in the Burrows Field Sign...not cool! That sign seems to be the target for mischief. We'll have to take some sand paper to the luckily small section and stain it in the spring, grrrr!