Putting Trails to Bed for the Winter, AKA Raking, Raking, Raking…

A clean drain is a happy drain!

The trailwork manuals say that drains should be cleared of leaves before snowfall. Dry leaves do rake MUCH easier now than do soaked ones in May. Cleaning drains now means they can handle downpours and snowmelt right into next summer. Some crews heed this advice, some do not. Hikers can see for themselves.

Raking the 200+ drains on trails we tend gets to be kind of a meditation on time, repetition, seasons changing, rhythm and workmanship, friends both there and absent,... Hey, the work itself is so boring you may as well let your mind wander. When the job is done, you have that satisfaction too.

The trails we tend are listed on the website. Four of us Cardigan Highlanders raked all 200+ drains in 45 hours this October and November. That does not count the summer
re-digging of them, upgrading a few earthen berms to be rock waterbars, replacing 18 log fixtures with fresh logs on the West Ridge Trail. Numbers vary by year, but we spend a huge percentage of work time on the care and cleaning of drains and ditches. Others may think their trailwork is done when the blazes are fresh and the blowdowns are chopped off the trail. All that is part of it, but tending to drainage is the act of a conservationist, caring for the hiker impacts on the land.

Well Done, trail crew!

Craig Sanborn, CHVTC Trailmaster