Saturday, March 6, 2010

Reblazing the Trails

Teresa here is in the process of refreshing the blazes at Shelton Lakes and taking the opportunity to change the old orange blazes of Dominick Trail to blue. This trail will eventually extend north to Indian Well, where it will merge with the Paugussett "Blue Dot" Trail. Rather than refresh with more orange, we might as well just switch over to blue. I color-matched it to the blue blazes at Indian Well State Park.

Sure is nice to see the blue blazes! There are about 825 miles of blue-blaze trail in Connecticut, maintained by CFPA. The Paugussett Trail, built in the 1930s, used to extend all the way through Shelton, so it is very gratifying to see parts of it restored.

The Eklund Garden bypass trail, built so that mountain bikers would not have to stop and open gates, is marked with a two-color blaze.

Recently Terrance attended a CFPA seminar on trail work, which included a discussion about how they blaze their trails. (They've had a TON of practice since the 1930s). One thing he learned that I had not been aware of, but which now seems obvious: The blazes 'grow' over the years because the tree is growing. You can see this in the old blaze in the photo above. The tree furrows are growing and making the blaze wider. Since our blazes on the orange trail are 15 years old, they've gotten bigger than they should be. At some point this is going to require some cover-up paint.

Here's a picture of the tools CFPA uses. I don't have a template and just eye-ball the blazes. I do have a scraper for smoothing out the bark. The condiment bottles with paintbrushes coming out the tops are intriguing. I just use old glass jars.

The paint is an exterior water-based Behr paint from Home Depot. We used to use special tree-marking paint from Ben Meadows, but CFPA apparently uses the stuff from Home Depot. If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for us.

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