Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bear Box at Crystal Mountain Campsite

July 10, Crystal Mountain Campsite gets a Bear Box (and picnic table)

In our ongoing effort to help AT visitors reduce their impact on wildlife, we have been installing food storage boxes at one or two campsites each season (see June 25th post).

Today, it was Crystal Mountain Campsite.  Good timing, since two weeks ago Ridge Runner Dennis came across a mother bear and two cubs feeding on blackberries on the nearby powerline.

Crystal Mountain (where there are no crystals and its elevation barely rises above the rest of the ridge line) has the distinction of being the overnight site that is furthest from a road in Massachusetts, and it is solidly up hill from every direction.  It is our most primitive site.  Prior to this visit, it only offered a few flat tentsites, a privy and a nearby stream.

Rather than tote a 90lb steel box the full 4.5 miles up from Dalton or Cheshire, we chose to access the site via a power line that crosses the AT about .25 miles to the south.  The hike up the power line is a steep one-mile slog, pretty much straight up.  Existing ATV/maintenance twin track provided an excellent opportunity to use the AT Committee's power wheelbarrow.  This small, tracked transporter can be heavily loaded and will traverse rough terrain with relatively little impact.  It is slow and does require careful maneuvering to prevent the load from tipping sideways.  On this trip it carried about 200lbs and replaced the equivalent of six 9 mile round trips had we hand-carried the gear.

 Here, Don and Adam start up the power line with a tall load.

 Routes through steep sections were scouted in advance, running the power wheelbarrow across the slope will result in it tipping over.

Keeping feet clear of the rubber tread is important.

A clear, sparkling day made for great views as we climbed above the valley.

It took an hour and a half to cover the one mile climb to the AT.  With 5 on the crew, it took less than 30 minutes to ferry all the parts the short distance to the campsite.  Because the AT is narrow and travels over a wide field of rocks between the power line and campsite, it was not possible to use the wheelbarrow beyond the power line.

We also chose to carry a picnic table to install at the campsite as well.  The addition of the table and bear box to this primitive campsite was not taken lightly.  They will forever alter the experience at this location.  What was once just a few worn flat areas in the middle of the woods now has some of the conveniences of our regular shelter sites.  We hope that the bear box will encourage hikers to properly store their food without damaging the trees in the area and the picnic table will help concentrate food prep and eating to a central location, rather than near tenting areas.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

New Signs for Upper Goose Pond

July 6th, New Signs for Upper Goose Pond

Quite the team assembled for the final phase of this project.  In an earlier post (March 25th) I described the process of making the new signs for the  channel between Goose Pond and  Upper Goose Pond.  Today we had much of the AT Committee in attendance to perform the final installation (the great swimming later in the afternoon might have had something to do with it too).

Upper Goose Pond is a National Park Service Natural Area, completely surrounded by donated land acquired for the Appalachian Trail Corridor.   This sign provides information regarding regulations for boaters on the Upper Pond.

The original sign (see photo above) was located about half way down the narrow channel between the ponds.  We felt that a location visible from the lower pond would be more helpful for boaters who decide to turn around before entering the channel.

We chose a site on the shoreline in full view of boaters approaching from the lower pond.

Digging into the sandy soil was fairly easy, tho we soon struck water.

John and Don work to free a rock from the bottom of the hole.

 Holes for the hanging hardware (recycled from the original sign) are laid out.

Pete drills the holes while Don and John hold the sign upside down for easier access.

The completed frame is raised and set into the holes, then the signs threaded onto the hardware.

Pete adds some anti-tampering enhancements to the hardware holding the signs.

Completed--good for another 20 years!  We'll come and stain the supporting frame after it has weathered for a year or so.

Nopel Shelter Work Completed

July 7th, Nopel Shelter Completed?

A team of 6 headed to Nopel Shelter to complete the final phase of the rehab started last year with assistance from the Boy Scouts and ALDHA volunteers.  In June we were able to get the new roofing material installed, but could not complete a new roof for the privy and stain the shelter and privy.  Today, we almost completed these objectives.

We were able to carry in the lumber and skylight material to re-build the roof for the privy and some stain for the shelter.  We had a slight incident with getting the stain from the cans to the paint buckets and didn't have quite enough to finish the privy--but the shelter looks great with a new roof and a new coat of stain!

Kevin and Don give the shelter a great new look
Thanks to all for a great project, started pretty much a year ago when Scout Troop 3 came up to re-build the stone platform in front of the shelter in addition to a lot of other smaller projects at the overnight site.
Steve removes the old roof

Steve assembles the new roof frame

As of today, we have to put about another quart of stain on the privy, and shift the privy on it's base--it's just about full.
New roof is in place, Kevin spreads the remaining stain.