Hitch 5: “It’s Always Sunny in the Pemigewasset”

White Mountain TrACS

Hitch 5 Report
“It’s Always Sunny in the Pemigewasset.”

Pemigewasset District – Rattlesnake Mtn. Trail, Black Mtn. Trail, Basin-Cascades Trail, Kinsman Pond Trail, Mt. Tecumseh Trail, & Little East Pond Trail
7/6/2012 – 7/23/2012
Total miles TrAC-ed: 14.9
Total miles hiked: 34.8
Total service hours: 245
Prepared by David Stahl

Monday, July 16, 2012:

After a three day break, MooseTrACS hit the ground running! We first went to the National Forest headquarters in order to pick up some Trail Management Objectives (TMOs) so that we would know which trails to work on for Hitch 5. We decided upon one, Rattlesnake Mountain Trail, which we had a good feeling we could do in a half day. After doing some preparatory work in one of the HQ conference rooms, we then drove out to the Rattlesnake Mountain trailhead. The short car ride took us on several beautiful country roads. We started TrACing, and the first 0.8 miles took us up a steep eroded trail, where we installed numerous steps in a “staircase like” fashion and rock waterbars for drainage. Then, about an hour later we hit the 0.9 mile loop trail to the summit, which was mostly flat and in good condition. At about mile 1.5 we reached the top of Rattlesnake Mountain, which had a beautiful view south from the ledges. Then, we descended back into the trees and reached our endpoint, the start of the summit loop. From there it was a quick twenty minute walk to the car. TrACed: 1.7 miles. Hiked: 2.5 miles.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012:

The team set out early with the goal of completing Black Mountain Trail, a 45 minute drive to the northwest corner of the National Forest. After navigating through a couple back roads and down a narrow gravel stretch, we found the Black Mountain trailhead and began TrACing the 2.4 mile trail. The first mile went quickly as we hiked down an old logging road. Then the trail began to ascend steeply up Black Mountain, where we installed numerous rock waterbars and replaced several log waterbars in order to deal with erosion issues. Along the way we ran into several signs we had not encountered before, such as ATV and Adopt-A-Trail postings. As we reached mile 2.0 the trail began to level out, and we quickly TrAC-ed the last 0.4 miles to the summit of Black Mountain. The last 200 feet we installed a few cairns and reestablished the native tread in order to fix several beaten paths to the summit that had emerged. Curiously enough, although the TMO stated that the trail was 2.6 miles long, we only wheeled 2.4 miles in order to reach the summit. After reaching the top, the team enjoyed an excellent view from the summit and hiked the 2.4 miles back to the truck. TrACed: 2.4 miles. Hiked: 4.8 miles.

Wednesday, July 18 – Thursday, July 19, 2012:

Days 3 and 4 (July 18 and July 19)—All Corps

Friday, July 20, 2012:

The team started out at headquarters preparing multiple ERPs, TMOs, and preparatory paperwork for the rest of the trails for the hitch. This lasted for most of the morning, in which we then set out north to Franconia Notch in order to TrAC Basin-Cascades Trail and Kinsman Pond Trail. Although Basin-Cascades Trail is only 1.0 miles long, it took longer than expected to TrAC. We first had a little trouble finding the exact start of the trail among the maze of trails in the Basin area. When we did in fact find the trail, the TrACing was slow going as we ran into numerous erosion issues, where we worked on improving staircases, replacing individual steps, and reestablishing the native tread. This was probably the most popular trail we had worked on all season, and it was certainly packed with scores of hikers on this sunny afternoon. After finishing the Basin-Cascades Trail, we then hiked the 0.5 miles along the AT in order to reach the trailhead of the Kinsman Pond Trail. Although the first section of the Kinsman Pond Trail we hiked was mostly in good shape, we did notice that several bog bridges needed to be replaced and brush clearing needed to be completed. We were able to cover ¾ mile on the Kinsman Pond Trail before having to turn around for the day. TrACed: 1.75 miles. Hiked: 4.5 miles.

Saturday, July 21, 2012:

Today we set out with the goal of TrACing a good portion of the Mount Tecumseh Trail. This trail runs for 5.6 miles from the Waterville Ski Parking Lot, over the summit of Mount Tecumseh, and back down to Tripoli Road. From mile 0 to mile 1.0 the TrACing was fairly easy, as the trail meandered along Tecumseh Brook with easy grades. Along the way we noticed the work of the “mysterious” Tecumseh trail builder, an ambitious volunteer who has decided to put many hours into building structures along the Tecumseh trail. For example, we noted a twenty foot section of unusual rip rap surfacing which was probably built by the volunteer, which was somewhat unnecessary but quite pretty and a joy to walk across. At around mile 1.5 the trail became quite steep and eroded—water clearly was taking the trail as the shortest path down the mountain and took away much of the soil and organic material which should have been on the trail. We installed numerous staircases and retaining walls in order straighten out much of the mess surrounding this part of the trail. At around mile 2.0 the trail leveled out, and at mile 2.2 we arrived at the summit loop around Tecumseh, which was somewhat confusing in that the TMO was unclear as to which path we should TrAC. We decided to take the right fork in order to go counterclockwise around the loop, and arrived at the summit at mile 2.5. Then, we began TrACing downhill towards Tripoli Road. We were surprised as to how different this section of the trail was—instead of the steep talus we had climbing up, the trail going down consisted of mostly moderate grades and the tread had little erosion. At approximately mile 3.6 we stopped TrACing and turned around for the day. TrAC-ed: 3.6 miles. Hiked: 7.2 miles.

Sunday, July 22, 2012:

Today we drove to Tripoli Road in order to finish the last portion of the Mount Tecumseh Trail, which we had started the day before. We first hiked the 2 miles from the parking lot to where we had stopped TrACing the day before. This was one of the first times we TrACed downhill, and so we developed a system in which the person on survey would scout ahead in order to determine if steps or staircases were needed for steep sections. From mile 3.6 to mile 4.5 the trail was in pretty good condition, with little erosion and only a few rock steps needed here and there. However, from mile 4.5 to mile 5.0, the trail went down a very eroded path with many erosion issues, and numerous rock waterbars had to be installed where none were present. From mile 5.0 to the terminus (mile 5.6) the trail flattened out and was in excellent condition. After completing Mount Tecumseh Trail, we drove about a half mile to the East Pond Loop parking area with the goal of TrACing Little East Pond Trail (1.7 miles). We first walked the “0.4” miles along an old logging road to the Little East Pond trailhead (it was actually only 0.2 miles) and then began TrACing. From mile 0 to mile 1.0 the TrACing was fairly easy, with most of the features being drain dips and natural fords. After mile 1.0 the trail steepened, and we installed/replaced numerous steps and decommissioned several log waterbars in order to prevent erosion. Some no deck puncheons and check dams were also replaced. At mile 1.7 we reached Little East Pond, and then hiked the 1.9 miles back to the parking lot. TrAC-ed: 3.7 miles. Hiked: 7.8 miles.

Monday, July 23, 2012:

Today we set out with the goal of finishing the last 1.75 miles of Kinsman Pond Trail, which we had started three days previous. After driving to the Basin, we hiked the 1 mile up the Cascade Brooks Trail, 0.5 miles along the AT, and the 0.75 miles on the Kinsman Pond Trail we had already TrAC-ed on July 20. As we began TrACing, we noticed that the trail had numerous drainage issues—it seemed that much of the trail had water on it and no place to put it. At about mile 1.5 we realized the cause of this fact—much of the trail was built straight up a stream, and the water was naturally taking the trail as a path down the mountain. With not much to do in this situation, we rerouted a few several hundred foot sections of the trail in order to avoid the stream. As we approached the level of Kinsman Pond the trail became flatter, and we replaced numerous bog bridges which were built in order to avoid the wet areas around the pond, but had deteriorated over time. At mile 2.3 we reached Kinsman Pond, a beautiful mountain pond nestled in a low spot along Kinsman Ridge. Thousands of yellow pond lilies were about to bloom on the water, their bright colors providing an interesting contrast to the dark waters of the pond. The trail then followed the length of the pond and was rough but generally in good condition. We soon reached the Kinsman Pond shelter, and then the final Kinsman Pond trail junction at mile 2.5. We then hiked the 4 miles back to the parking lot, stopping for lunch at Kinsman Pond and detouring to the famous Basin along the way. At Forest Service headquarters we finished the paperwork for all of the trails, and so concluded Hitch 5. TrAC-ed: 1.75 miles. Hiked: 8 miles.