When we three volunteers met at the ski area parking at 0900, we gathered around the map to try to think of our next move. To wait for the chairlift ride at 1000, then hike 1.5 miles over to the top of the work area, meant starting at lunchtime. One of us had to depart for his mother's 75th birthday at 1400. Also, recent heavy rains meant all would descend to their cars on Mountain Road, but with high water in the brook.
We therefore talked ourselves right out of our original plan, drove around to the trailhead on Mountain Road, and hiked up to the questionable crossing of the brook 0.5 miles up. As we hiked we remarked on the noticeable recent erosion in the trail, erosion that was not there when we patrolled it cleaning 40 drains and clearing 3 blowdowns on April 9. We now think the fresh erosion was after 5" of rain fell on July 30. The erosion included new gullies 4" deep and 6" wide in the middle of the path. Where it leveled out there was a pile of new stones and gravel 10' long and several inches deep. Atop the grade hosting this new erosion is a wide deep drainage dip that we cleaned in April. Hmmm...
We carried on to the second crossing of Andrew Brook, and found the water not so high as to be unfordable by rock-hopping. We also were hiking in the motionless and humid air, and began to feel faint despite a good breakfast and electrolytes. It was already 1030. Thus we talked ourselves out of more climbing at all, had more salty snacks, and started back downhill, fixing erosion damage as we went.
At the highest waterbar, we decided to raise and harden the berm of mineral soil that keeps water in its outflow ditch. Two of us quarried rocks as I dug a catch ditch just uphill. Mt Sunapee produces many slabby rocks, where post-glacial frost splits the bedrock on parallel planes. They got lucky with that, finding three in about ten minutes. One rock they set as a paver on the uphill side of the ditch. Two they set as pavers just on the downhill side of it. They then dug a shallow trench from them to the sides of the trail, and laid small blocky rocks in it so as to lean on and support each other. The last step is to slide a shovel from downstream in the ditch, and throw the mineral soil between ditch and the line of rocks, tamping it down to create a rock-reinforced berm that hikers will avoid and water will have to reach much higher than the ditch to overflow.
Still, such things can happen. We will watch this one.
We then repeated the job at another drain, mentioned above. Here the traffic walks to one side of it, so all that was needed was the line of rocks in the shallow trench a few feet from the ditch, then to shovel mineral soil from ditch onto berm. Twenty minutes and that was done.
As it was now after 1400, we called it a day and hiked the short distance back to our cars and cold refreshments after. A nice safe productive day, and the crew went home happy. "Work smarter, not harder."
- Craig Sanborn, CHVTC