7/11 – 9/16; Remove & Replace Old Wood Steps and Waterbars on West Ridge Trail

One major focus of 2022's work was to remove and replace old rotting broken woodwork on West Ridge Trail, the main tourist trail up Mt Cardigan from the west. It climbs moderate grades on deep mineral soil, varied by steeper bands of ledge, until it encounters bedrock ledges just above Cliff's Bridge which it follows to the 3155' summit with its 360 view from Mt Washington to Mt Monadnock. Tens of thousands of feet a year would erode the soil quickly but for 60 drains in the lowest mile of trail, below Cliff's Bridge.

Since the trail varies from 4' wide to 10' wide, many of those steps and waterbars are made of logs held in place by large pin rocks. The wood lasts from ~ 12 to ~ 30+ years, longer if it is of larger diameter and greater length. Once built, it is not all that much of a job to replace old log with new. The crew harvests fir trees from the hundreds in the forest, limbs them, peels the bark, scatters all the slash, and saws them to usable lengths. Then teams of two workers using 5' loops of 1" webbing and the lift-and-swing method pull them to the trail and downhill to where they will be used or to keep at trailside so we don't forget them.

We could not have done this much work this fast by ourselves. Credit must go to 16 YO teens from two different YMCA camps on service trips who learned fast and worked diligently on this job. Our thanks go out to them, their counselors, and coordinators. By all accounts they had a fun time, and we hope to see them back next year.

Timeline, not including other important work by other teams that day:

July 7, saw 4 fir trees 2 crew x 3 hrs = 6hrs

July 15, R&R 12' 6' 7' 15' 6'. 46' 1 + 10 YMCA x 7 hrs = 77 hrs

Aug 3, R&R 6' 6' Last peeled logs to be had 12' 1 + 10 YMCA x 6 hrs = 66 hrs

Aug 20 R&R 10' 7' 13' 8' 8' saw 3 fir 46' 5 (sawyer 3 hr) 6 hrs = 33 hrs

Sep 2 R&R 4' 4' 1 2 hrs = 2 hrs

Sep 16 R&R 6' 5' 7' 7' 7', + 3 stone pavers 32' 3 x 7 hrs = 21 hrs

total length 140' total hrs = 286 hrs


Big thanks to all who worked on this project.

Craig Sanborn, CHVTC Trailmaster