Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Where's the Yellow Trail at Boehm Pond??

"BEFORE": No idea which way the trail goes
The Yellow Trail at Boehm Pond got pretty hard to follow recently. It's a twisty trail through very open woods, and it doesn't seem like many people walk it. A lack of hikers makes a trail harder to follow. So then even fewer people walk the trail. It's a viscous cycle.  In the first photo, the way forward was impossible to tell, even by the seasoned trails crews.

Just added a blaze. Bet you still can't tell where the trail is. 
A yellow blaze was added, but it was hard to see. And who wants to stand there hunting for the next blaze, right? In this case, a quick clipping of a beech branch fixed that problem. The tree in this spot is dark, so the yellow blaze stood out. For much of the trail, however, the trees have light-colored bark (like beech trees and white oak), so the blazes don't really grab your eye. And they tend to fade fast on those types of trees, too. A lot of additional blazes were added yesterday, while the old blazes were resized and freshened. Even then, depending on the season and trail conditions, it can be hard to follow a twisty-turning trail through open woods.

Trimmed a small beech branch.
The blaze is now visible, but you might not notice it immediately.
So the next step was to rake out the trail, which normally should not need to be done, but there were a few years worth of leaves and sticks on the tread and the footing was tedious. If more people walked the trail, that shouldn't be a problem. The foot traffic pulverizes leaves and sticks. Leaf removal can make a trail erode faster, so it not something that would normally be done unless there's a specific reason for it.

AFTER: Raked out the tread and cut two saplings.
The way forward is obvious.
Finally, some of the saplings were cut along the edges to make more of a visual gap through the woods and draw the eye towards the trail. That way, even if there are fresh leaves or snow cover, and the next tree with a blaze gets knocked over, following the trail should be easier and more intuitive. Hopefully that will lead to more foot traffic, which will in turn make the trail easier to follow.

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