We packed up and set out for a seven day hitch the morning of June 25th. After deciding on meal and such and stocking up on the essentials we headed to camp at Braley Pond and hoisted up the wall tent. Once settled into our sites we decided to test and organize our cash of crosscut saws. Using a preference based group rating system we chose two winners from a pool of thirteen saws. These would be the two we took out with us to the trail all week.
On our first day in the field we continued work on a 268 foot reroute of the trail. The reroute was needed to get the trail back along an old road bed used for logging in the 1960’s. The team axed and sawed several large downed trees; unfortunately many of which were dead hemlocks. We cleared out a fresh corridor and blazed a path to close a meander in the existing trail. Many of the crew members faced battles with some ruthless blackberry bushes but were victorious. The vast sea of nettles was quickly calmed by some swift weed whipping.
The third day of the tour had us finishing up work on the previous days reroute and obliterating the old trail. We got out our dirt bags to haul brush and leaves to and from the trail, used our cut up logs to block the closed section and raked out a new tread. Afterward we did some detailing and other clean-up with our handy iprune and began weed whipping brush further up the trail towards another portion of the trail in need of rerouting.
The next day was spent clearing a long stretch of over growth along the old road bed in a second reroute operation. We encountered many a downed tree including two very large hemlocks. Kitt and Piper made eight different cuts to remove the first and all six crew members we needed to cut and push out a section of the second. Interestingly, upon the removing of the second log, we uncovered a downed American chestnut, a rot resistant hardwood tree that suffered the same fate as hemlocks soon will in the 1970’s. In an effort to support proper hydration the group also decided to abandon use of a hand pump filter for a gravity bag and dromedary.
Day five was more activity on the second reroute. The crew finished axing and sawing anymore downed trees along the intended path, continued general corridor clearing practices and raked in a new tread. We began clearing our debris out to obliteration stations at each end of the reroute using a large, green tarp. While hiking out for the afternoon we were met by a lethargic fellow in the form of a six foot black racer snake skimming down the trail. It was decided over the evening meal and a tapioca dessert that group confidence in the work was at an all time high, moral was in good shape and things are going well.
Our last day on the trail was spent tying up loose ends and putting the finishing touches on the second reroute. We began transporting the various logs and clearing causalities to the old trail loop, pruning the tread and surrounding ground and using the pole saw to reach a few higher limbs dipping into the corridor. When all was said and done the team had cut 1128 feet in new reroutes for the Ramsey’s Draft trail.
The final day of the hitch saw us breaking down our camp up at Braley Pond and heading to the Deerfield Work Station. The day was spent cleaning and sharpening our tools, organizing all the gear and left over food and giving Kunkle the truck a bath. We worked quickly and efficiently to get back to Verona by late afternoon.
This tour in the woods prepared us for many more reroute projects coming up and gave us more time to refine our team dynamic. All in all everything had been a great success.