This post was written by Ilana Copel, GMC’s Field Supervisor.
It’s that time. The snow is flying and our field season is wrapping up for the year. And what a year it’s been!
Spoke with thousands of hikers. They explained the Leave No Trace principles of low-impact hiking and camping. They educated hikers about fragile alpine ecosystems and pond shorelines. They also answered questions about the mountains, trails, shelters, and surrounding landscape.
Maintained privies. This year caretakers were responsible for seventeen batch-bin composting, fourteen moldering, and five pit privies. Field assistants and many volunteers shared responsibility for the other 38 privies on the Long Trail System and Vermont Appalachian Trail. Responsibility includes the tasks of composting the human waste at the batch-bin composting privies weekly, a critical part of backcountry trail and overnight site stewardship. A caretaker’s job is made much easier when a privy is free of trash, so please help us spread the word that unnatural materials directly complicate the work of the person maintaining that privy.
Our Construction Crew was led this year by Kurt Melin in his 10th year as part of the GMC Field Staff. Kurt and his crew:
Assisted with the rebuilding of Tucker Johnson Shelter. The crew built a new accessible moldering privy for the site and set the footings for the new shelter.
Repaired historic Cowles Cove shelter. They replaced the floor and foundation, repaired the roof, and added a tent platform.
Converted Clarendon Shelter’s pit privy to an accessible moldering privy. The privy was in disrepair and is now in a more sustainable location and style.
Planned for next year’s privy conversions! Next year we plan to replace the pit privies at Governor Clement and William Douglas privies with more sustainable accessible moldering privies.
Long Trail Patrol
One summer and one fall LTP:
Completed rockwork on the Sterling Pond Trail. The crew spent three weeks replacing collapsing erosion control structures and a failing staircase, with a focus on building new structures in a sustainable way.
Replaced puncheon on Mansfield’s Hellbrook Trail. The crew used lumber repurposed from the temporary caretaker tent platforms used at Taft Lodge in 2016 to house field staff displaced from the Stone Hut.
Continued work on the Camel’s Hump Monroe Trail. The crew returned to these heavily used trails to improve erosion control and reinforce stonework and waterbars.
Built new trail in the Breadloaf Wilderness. The crew, along with a Middlebury College service trip, built a quarter-mile reroute around a section of trail just north of Boyce Shelter which had become too eroded and wet to sustain foot-traffic any more.
Completed rock work on Killington’s Bucklin Trail. The crew replaced failing rock waterbars and a series of native timber check steps.
Built a staircase on Mansfield’s Frost Trail. The new stone staircase and retaining wall were built to mitigate erosion in the subalpine zone.
Completed rock work on General Stark Mountain. The crew replaced failing rock waterbars on the Long Trail south of Theron Dean Shelter.
Hardened trail near Tillotson Camp. The crew finished up a three-year project of improving the Long Trail near the Lockwood Pond wetland.
Hardened trail near Greenwall Shelter. The crew improved drainage and tread on the LT/AT between the Keewaydin Trail and the Greenwall Shelter spur.
Maintained Appalachian Trail Open Areas near Woodstock. The crew mowed meadows reclaimed by LTP crews during previous field seasons.
Volunteer Long Trail Patrol
This year’s volunteers came from all over Vermont and all over the country. Six volunteer crews over six weeks worked in the Green Mountain National Forest to:
Complete rock work on the Branch Pond Trail. The crew set a long string of stepping stones along a historic railroad bed, and built many other small erosion control structures. They also cleared 26 fallen trees, often using a two-person crosscut saw.
Completed a reroute on the LT/AT south of Congdon Shelter. The crew cut a short reroute around a section of trail which was collapsing into the riverbed.
Thank you for your support of the GMC field staff this season! We’re already excited to hit the trails next spring. In the meantime, remember that you can be a steward of the trail as you hike. You can spread the word about the work which goes into maintaining the 500+ miles of trail and 70 overnight sites in the Long Trail System. You can not only remember to walk on the rocks in alpine zones and to keep trash out of privies, but you can also remind your hiking companions. And of course, you can give us a call or shoot us an e-mail if you’d like to get involved in volunteer work or apply for our seasonal field staff!