We did it. The stairway we built in a muddy gully last Aug 28 now has three more rock steps just uphill of it. To be honest, the top step was there since the last glacier left, but it was so well positioned that we just had to use it.
The day started slowly. The first arrivals hiked up to the site with two 10 lb. bars and a pick, and started to quarry a rock of ~600 lbs. We made progress, but soon had to stop because the rock was smarter than we were. The other two cleaned the 39 drains below us as they hiked up, but before long we were four trying to outsmart the rock.
Between using bars as rails, flipping it with webbing loops, prying it around on the rails and turning it with a pick, we got it up out of its hole and onto two bars as rails uphill of the trail. We railed it and turned it around obstacles as we moved it slowly down to the existing and highest step, then we quarried a smaller but large rock and several more as fulcrums and scree. Then came the noon whistle, so we stopped for lunch.
After lunch we dug a deep hole in the soil just below the existing step, then slid the new rock on rails over the hole, removed the rails, and it needed only a little prying to settle into place, flat side up as the tread and front vertical as the rise. The next step down was faster and easier using the smaller rock. From there down to the top of our stair from 8/28 the trail is on a gentle grade, so less likely to erode soon.
We finished this job by setting our largest remaining rock in a deep hole next to the bottom step, packing our remaining rocks uphill and next to the steps as scree, and hauling in blowdown logs from the woods as barricade further from the steps. While two of us washed mud from tools in a nearby brook, the others added more scree beside the older stairs, to discourage tourists.
This crew now works efficiently as a team, communicating with each other, pitching in or standing clear as needed, directing hiker traffic for everyone's safety. Practice makes better. Total time is 5 hours, or 20 hours for the day. That is very productive for the amount of work done, and good work too. Well Done, crew!
- Craig Sanborn, CHVTC