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Trail Maintenance


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One sunny day in August, I was on top of the summit of Katahdin in northern Maine. After over two thousand miles of backpacking, I had finished my thru-hike of the famous Appalachian Trail. I had crossed wooded gaps, walked along treeless ridges and had seen the wildflowers of the Appalachian spring. In those two thousand and more miles, I had also walked on maintained tread. Followed painted blazes. Walked over water bars and rock walls. And climbed up banked switchbacks. Whether a multi-state trail such as the Continental Divide Trail or a trail in the local open space, all trails are a product of some sweat equity. The trails are built and maintained, usually by volunteers, by an army of people who trim brush, revegetate soil, place markings and swing Pulaskis so backcountry travelers can see the high passes, fish at a backcountry lake or enjoy a quiet walk after a hard day of work. Trail work is hard, but fulfilling. And it is fun…

Paul Magnanti on giving back to the trail and all that trail maintenance entails, read below in Issue 21:

Pulaskis, Sweat, Hard Work, and Fun: Trail Work

Trail Maintenance

Issue 21 Page 1

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  • 4 weeks later...

On my second trip to a wilderness near my new home in California, I got on a trail that was so brushy it could only be navigated by crawling on your hands & knees and following the bear footprints. It was clear that if I was going to hike these trails, I'd need to work on them. I got on a local internet forum to ask people what kind of tools they carried to get through the brushy spots. A guy who produces maps of the local wildernesses responded that I might be interested in joining an upcoming volunteer trail work project.

I drove to a remote area where we took 4x4's through a locked gate and up a fire road. Then we hiked into a canyon deep in the wilderness, two or three days hike for most starting at the trailheads. The leader had five large pack goats that carried in tools, tri-tip steak, salad, and beer. I worked myself to exhaustion clearing trail the next day, but I was hooked.

Since then I've gone on more trips than I can remember. There are usually trail work opportunities on my free weekends. I've met a lot of great people and consider some good friends. In the last year I've discovered ways to get my company to donate money to the volunteer organization, which is really satisfying. I've become intimately familiar with some very interesting and remote trails by spending hours clearing them and working the tread. Trail work is something you want to try if you get the chance.

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