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Work trip on Mt. Moriah December 20, 2008

Posted by Jenny in hiking, nature, White Mountains.
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The mighty grub hoe

The mighty grub hoe

Bob and I maintain the 2.4-mile section of the Carter-Moriah trail running from Mt. Surprise to the summit of Moriah.  From notes jotted down the day after I went up:

September 22, 2008.  Third and final trip of the year.  Doing it solo on a weekday.

Bob and I did a lot of clipping on the first two trips.  This one will be all drainage work.  Stop at Camp Dodge, visit tool shed to pick up a grub hoe.  Spend a few minutes picking up different hoes and trying the find the one that feels the lightest that is also in good condition.  Pair of hand clippers—no loppers this time.

Arrive at trailhead in Gorham at 9:00.  Do the 2 miles to Mt. Surprise in 50 minutes.  Grub hoe always feels heavy.  Alternate between resting it on shoulder and carrying it in my hand.  Take my customary break at the ledges overlooking Pine Mountain, Madison, and the Presies.  Good visibility under a high cloud deck.  A wonderful place.  The ingredients: lowbush blueberry, sheep laurel, reindeer moss, black spruce mixed in with the red spruce.  Same stuff you see in the Mahoosucs.

Now the work begins.  See traces of dried-up clippings from earlier trips.  Reach first waterbar.  Scrape out a lot of vegetation.  Keep digging well down into the outflow ditch.

A few more waterbars before the serious ledges begin.  This is the challenge: getting up the steep ledges holding a grub hoe.  The stretch between 2500 and 3000 feet never seems easy.  More waterbars.  25 of them in all.  Take off daypack at the ones that require a lot of work.  It’s all simple physical forces.  Wearing daypack when doing heavy digging equals lower back distress.

One couple passes by, thank me for the work I’m doing.  People usually do.

Bog bridge at 3100 feet is a hopeless mess.  Have to balance on a loose log literally floating in a puddle.  Always mention this in my work report, but nothing ever happens.  AMC is shorthanded, I think.

Every time I go up this trail, it is visibly more eroded.  High precipitation this year has accelerated the process.  There is only so much you can do with waterbars when you have a lot of exposed ledge. Rainfall also meant a huge explosion of growth in young beeches, spruces, balsam firs.  That’s why we did so much clipping.

Reach summit at 12:30.  No one else there.  Slurp down my sandwich from the Irving at Wakefield on Rt. 16.  Fairly decent.  Standard worktrip fare is: Irving sandwich, bag of almonds or cashews, large calorific package of Pepperidge Farm chunky-style cookies.

The clouds are breaking up, taking interesting shapes.  In my day-after notes I see that I have written some writerly words:  “Threadlike drifting linear script of clouds, as if writing a message.  Shapes silently coalesce, break apart.  Some sort of illustration of the passage of time.”

Back down in 2.5 hours.  Always hard carrying grub hoe down the ledges.  I know the ledges by heart.  This is the “jumbled ledge,” this is the “ledge with one convenient foothold,” this is the “ledge where we got lost when we climbed Moriah in winter.”  And below Mt. Surprise is “broken tooth ledge,” where Bob fell in a light drizzle and knocked some teeth out with his grub hoe.

We are very lucky to have this trail section.

For information about volunteering to do trail work in the AMC  Adopt-a-Trail program: http://www.outdoors.org/conservation/trails/volunteer/adopt/index.cfm

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