Saturday, September 19, 2015

A New Roof for Upper Goose Pond Cabin

It took a while, but it's finally done (almost)

In May this year, we started a project to replace the aging roof on Upper Goose Pond Cabin (UGPC).

Somewhat naively, we figured it would take maybe 5-6 days to get this done, but as these things sometimes go, it took about twice that.   Here's what we did.

Scaffold assembly
   In May we set up a scaffold on the north side of the cabin.  This would allow easy access to the roof, and help to catch anyone who happened to slide off.
Scaffold complete on the first side
Once we had the scaffold in place, we started to strip off the old roof--well, make that roofs.  The Onduline, probably installed in the 1980's, came off fairly easily in big pieces.  Well rotted, it was no problem to tear it off and send it to the ground.

Under that, we found not one, but two layers of asphalt shingles, that also had to be stripped off.  We had two special shovels with teeth on the front, designed to rip up shingles and pull the nails.  The trick was not falling off the roof while using them.
Roof brackets provide a work platform to strip
the old roofing
 One of our volunteers, Hank, donated some roof brackets so we could fashion a small working platform that could be nailed to the roof, providing a more or less stable place to work from.
First side in process

Eventually we were able to get a pretty clean surface down to the original cabin roof boards.

Of course, we needed to be ready for rain with half of the roof stripped off the cabin, so at the end of every day we covered the roof with a giant tarp, which mostly worked.
A tarp to keep out the rain

On the two project days when it did rain, we did clean up duty on the mountain of old shingles at the bottom of the scaffold, bagging them and dragging them down the hill to a holding area near the beach.
Rainy day clean up
 Late this year, we'll ferry them via boat to the dock, then transport them to a disposal facility.  The entire roof took more than 50 contractor bags.

An unexpected side effect of the work was a veritable rain of grit and dust from the old shingles sifting its way through the roof boards an onto everything in the bunk room.

Eventually, we stapled plastic sheeting to the underside of the rafters, which kept most of the crud contained.

Once the roof boards were completely cleared, we found several that were rotting, mostly around the chimney, where the roof had been leaking for years.
Patching the old roof

New boards were cut to size and nailed in place creating a sound surface for the next steps.

A new layer of roll roofing was laid down over the clean boards.   Once in place, the backing was peeled off and the large pieces were stuck down to the roof.  This roll roofing will seal around nails or screws used to fasten down the finished roofing material, providing an extra layer of water protection.  We discovered that the roof boards had to be scrupulously clean to allow the roll roofing to adhere.

Finally, it was time to put the new metal roof pieces on the roof.  Having been ferried in by canoe the previous fall, and stored in the boat shed,
Metal roof ready to go
we carried them up the hill, and laid them out against the scaffold where they were lifted into place and screwed down.

Precision work
A little bit of trimming was required to fit around the chimney, but the pieces went in fairly quickly.
Now all we had to do was take down the scaffold and reassemble it on the south side of the cabin, and do it all over again.  Since we used all of our planned project days in late May and early June on just the one side, we took a hiatus until the bulk of the hiker traffic wound down in late August, and to complete the rest of the trail projects scheduled for the season.  Even then, there were days when keeping hikers out from underfoot became an ongoing problem.  
The second half of the roof went a bit faster, as we had figured out most of the problems on the first side.  Fairly quickly we had new roofing on the north side, and all that remained was to cover the gap between the field stone chimney and the new metal roofing.

To facilitate this work, we constructed a work platform that straddled the peak of the roof and hung down on both sides of the chimney.  
Chimney work platforms and ladder
We found it a little small, and too close to the chimney to allow room to work, so we built a 2nd, larger platform in the same manner.   We also attached a wooden stop to the top of a ladder which hooked over the peak of the roof as well, so we could climb up the slippery metal roof and access our work area.

Lead flashing was chosen for its ability to be easily molded to the rounded fieldstones of the chimney and the ridges of the metal roofing.  Cut in to smaller pieces and bedded down in roofing cement (fondly referred to as "bear shit"), the lead was easily contoured and went in fairly easily.
Lead flashing in place and painted.  Also a strap used
to secure workers while they are on the platform
Painted a matching red, it blends in nicely.  The last step was to chip out bits of loose mortar between the fieldstones, and trowel in new mortar to reduce water infiltration.

It took 12 days, twice as long as we expected, to complete this project.  Over 250 volunteer hours were spent, assisted by about 40 more hours from DCR and ATC staff on various work days--and we still have a solid day of waste disposal ahead of us.  We do have a roof that we expect to last many decades, and be resistant to the normal barrage of small limbs that inevitably land on any roof in the woods.  Plus it looks great!

UPDATE, October 17:  As we start to close the cabin for the season, volunteers removed almost two tons of old roofing material via motor boat and trucked it to the disposal facility.  All that remains are the sheets of old Onduline which will go out next spring.  Our roof got a good testing in the heavy rains we've had recently--no leaks so far.  We'll see what the winter snow and ice brings...

Sunday, June 28, 2015

North Adams Kiosk Relocation

6/28/15--How do you move a Kiosk?

You get a really big tractor.  Joshua Moran, a North Adams resident who is organizing the North Adams application to ATC's AT Community program organized a small crew (and a really big forklift) from Maxymillian, a local construction company.

The Kiosk's former location was well off the trail and not easily seen by hikers and local community members.  Joshua secured a site on the grounds of Mount Greylock Elementary School, which also happens to be right on the A.T. as it enters North Adams from the south.  

On a rainy Sunday morning, Joshua with Jim and Don from Maxymillian uprooted the kiosk from it's original location and trundled it to its new one.

Easing it out of the ground
Ready for transport, operator Don will drive his rig in reverse for better visibility

With a left turn onto Phelps Ave, the kiosk is officially on the AT.

With Mt Williams looming to the south the kiosk is almost home

Interestingly, as we were setting the thing into place, ultra-runner Scott Jureck (attempting to set a speed record on the A.T.) was passing through, headed to Vermont.
Jureck (in dark jacket, center) 

Scott checks out our work before heading north

Lowering into place

Braced and ready for concrete to be poured around the bases

Joshua makes a last minute check before the concrete arrives.
This view is northbound on the Trail

New Culvert for UGPC Access

June 27, 2015  DPW on the AT

Jim, Pete, Dave and Cosmo  (with a lot of help from Trail neighbor Jim Morawiec and his tractor) replaced the broken culvert on the UGPC caretaker access road yesterday.  Earlier in the same day Pete and neighbor Jim installed a drive-over water bar further up the slope.  Hopefully this will limit some of the erosion on this section of road.

Dan and Pete pull out the old pieces.
Getting the old culvert out proved to be fairly simple.  It was not a very heavy piece of pipe, in fact, it appeared to be part of an old water heater.

Once the old culvert was removed, we dug out a wider trench to make room for the new pipe.  This pipe was donated by DCR.

The new pipe was laid on a gravel bed, and pitched downhill slightly.
Jim sets the bottom bed of gravel

The right way to move gravel
After the pipe was set correctly, more gravel was dumped on top and alongside to hold it firmly in place.   Trail neighbor Jim, brought his tractor out to play, so transporting the 10 tons of gravel for this project was not such a chore

Gravel was mounded up slightly to provide as much protection for the pipe as possible.  Please drive slowly over this repair until things settle in.

Pete and Dan set the final contours

Successful Load Test

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Shays' Boardwalk AGAIN

May 19, 2015

We made a return visit to the boardwalk near Shays' Rebellion monument today.  It seems that our last "fix" to the problem of diminishing support was not quite satisfactory.  Although we go the boardwalk well supported with new cribs, high water flows moved the cribs downstream to the point where several sections were sagging badly.

Before:  Supports are out of place, boardwalk is pretty treacherous.

We came back today with materials for another crib and proceeded to jack up the sagging sections and drag the cribs back into position so we could fasten them in place, rather than relying on gravity to do the job.

Bob and Silvia pry up boards to get access to top of cribbing at each joint
Jim looks to see how bad things are.  Note crib under walkway is twisted out of position

With walkway jacked up and boards removed, crib can be wrestled into position and attached to walkway

Lunchtime!  Home made cookies from Bob and Mary.

More of the same after lunch, then clean up and head out, hopefully we won't be back...

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ready for Real Trail Magic

Spring is Coming--Really

We've put together another great project list for this upcoming season.  You can find it here <> Even though there's still 2ft of snow on the Trail, we've been busy planning and have some pretty interesting projects scheduled for the season.

As usual, we start off with some smaller projects in the valleys, where snow will be pretty much gone.  For our first project on April 11th, we'll tackle some sunken bog bridges in the wet area south of Shay's Rebellion.

Our Blowdown Blitz will commence on May 2nd in south County and proceed northward during the month.  This is the opportunity to remove any downed trees and limbs from this winter's storms--a key piece of getting the Trail ready for hiking season.  We ask our Trail Maintainers to scout their sections and report back anything that would need the efforts of a group to clear before May 30th.

Our big project this year is the replacement of the roof on Upper Goose Pond Cabin in late May.  We'll keep the Cabin open for hikers during the work, and erect some scaffolding to make it easier (and less scary) to access the roof.
 There's also plenty of work on the ground as well, receiving pieces of the old roof and getting them down to the dock for transport out to the dumpster, and passing up new materials to the roof team.  We've also scheduled the work on some consecutive days so you could include an overnight stay at the Cabin.

Other projects include clearing some viewpoints, making repairs to shelters and privies, and some good old fashioned rock step and water bar work on the Trail.

We also have two special events planned, we will be participating in AT Community get togethers for Great Barrington and North Adams.  These will involve cookouts at the end of the day with small work projects and hikes beforehand.  These events are a way to connect Trail-friendly community members with both long distance hikers and Trail volunteers.  More on these activities in a later post.

In the meantime, please check your personal calendar and plan to join us in one or two projects this year.  As always, if you have questions about a project feel free to contact us at 

Looking forward to seeing you in the woods!