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[nct-l] west MI thoughts

Here in Charlottesville, Virginia (a few miles from the NCT), we are 
building a 20-mile semi-wilderness trail surrounding the city.  The 
cooperation from landowners has been wonderful, and we find that we have 
more trail to build than time to build it.  So, what we do is build the best 
trail we can with the limited time, with a plan that when we get a chance, 
we will go back to perfect the trail.  If some major problem comes up on a 
section, we take time out from the trail building to do needed trail 
rebuilding.  This system has worked out extremely well, and we have added 
several miles of new trail already this year, while taking care of two major 
trail rebuilding needs- one from erosion of the temporary steps to get over 
a culvert, the other from the destruction of switchbacks by an ATV.

I think that the WMi chapter (and other chapters) could follow a similar 
plan- build the best trail you can now, which would involve two tracks, with 
plans to fix the trail in the future.  If you have the manpower to fix the 
trail now, do it, but otherwise leave it until the manpower is available.

BTW, this is essentially how the AT worked- originally it took the fastest, 
easiest route, such as roads and straight-up-straight-down sections.  The 
rerouting of the trail has now been ongoing for over 50 years.


>My partner and I went for a ramble on the Lowell section of the NCT today
>to make up for the fact that we missed the mass parade on Trails Day.  As
>is often the case, as I walked this section I got to thinking about trail
>building strategies.
>A couple of things came to mind that I thought I would share with this
>list.  First, I am very proud of my fellow club members, especially Paula
>and Doug Wilbur, for their work on this section.  It is a beautiful piece
>of trail.  We saw wild turkey, a nesting turtle, a profusion of wild
>flowers (the patches of purple phlox were amazing!), and a nice variety of
>song birds.
>But we also found a high-impact campfire right on the trail, complete with
>car tire tracks, a soiled t-shirt and nearly a dozen Bud and Bud Light beer
>cans within throwing distance of the fire pit (why is it that slobs usually
>drink Anheuser-Busch products?).  It was a real shame, but something I
>think can be easily solved by the hiking community.
>You see, the slobatorium was located on the only small section of the NCT
>in the Lowell State Game Area where the trail follows an old two-track.  So
>Julie and I scattered the fire scar, covered its remains with duff, and
>picked up the beer cans and assorted dreck.  Then we talked about how the
>trail could easily avoid the two-track.
>Why is it that we in Michigan (and elsewhere?) often chose to follow
>two-tracks with the NCT, even when on public lands like state game areas?
>Doesn't this just welcome trouble (and slobs) to our trail?  Why would we
>want to be affiliated with all the problems that two-tracks entail (illegal
>dumping, Anheuser-Busch slobs, illicit behavior, paint ball, target
>practice, deer entrails, snowmobiles, ORVs, etc.--activities prohibited in
>state game areas, but widely practiced)?
>This is not to mention that two-tracks typically do not make for
>sustainable trail given their low footpath, compacted soil, and drainage
>Just this past April I joined more than a dozen volunteers with the Western
>Michigan Chapter as we spent a morning barricading sections of our trail in
>the Rogue River State Game Area that follow old two-tracks.  I heard from a
>hiker recently that many of our barricades were already dismantled and that
>the ORVs are freely roaming our footpath.
>I wonder how much the DNR ascribes these headaches incorrectly to the
>presence of the trail.  I can see people believing that it is the trail
>(and not the two-tracks) that attract the slobs.  Yet I rarely see such
>problems of this magnitude on our sections of trail that are 18-24' wide.
>Perhaps a rogue bike rider, but nary the problems I see on old two-tracks.
>Would it be prudent to spend the effort to get our trail off of these old
>two-tracks?  I know in the Lowell State Game Area it would only be a small
>relo.  In the Rogue it would take significant work (but I suggest it would
>also greatly improve the hiking experience there!).  And I'm sure there are
>opportunities for improvement elsewhere.
>What do you think?  Is it worth the effort to move the NCT off of the
>two-tracks?  Would it improve the hiking experience?  What, other than
>labor, might be the obstacles?  Are there other obtacles of which I am
>I'd be interested in your thoughts, as I think these are critical issues as
>our clubs complete the NCT trail building on public lands and move towards
>seeking easements across private lands.  I think those who neighbor these
>public lands will look to them as a model of what trail on private land
>will be.  And I'm not so sure we've put our best foot forward yet.
>WMI Chapter
>ps- Hey Tate, you been to the PA Headquarters lately?
>NCT-L mailing list

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