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Minimizing impact during mud season

- Melanie Luce -

During the spring months the trails in the White Mountains (and elsewhere) get pretty muddy. How do you hike when the trails are muddy? We’ve put together a list of tips to help you take care of both the trails and your boots during this messy season.

1. PRIORITIZE DAMAGE CONTROL:

Hiking muddy trails requires the mental shift from "I don’t want to get muddy" to "I want to  preserve this trail." Most of the damage to trails and the surrounding environment happens when the trails are wet and muddy. This mental shift is our most important tip. For example, the Squam Lakes Association closes their trails seasonally because of the trail damage caused during these muddy days. If you are aware that a trail is subject to really wet conditions in spring or if it’s a high traffic trail, consider choosing a different trail where you won’t contribute to the damage.

2. STAY ON THE TRAIL:

This means choosing to get muddy. Hike right through the middle of those muddy segments! We all want to take those inviting side trails, but in doing so we create some serious erosion that can lead to severe damage. Those are the worst because they go through steep areas and can contribute to some serious trail damage.

3. COLD MORNING TEMPS ARE FRIENDS OF THE TRAILS:

Because temperatures are colder in the morning, hiking trails are generally more firm and less muddy. It’s a great way to reduce both damage to the trail and mud on your boots and gear to choose to be an “early bird” hiker.

4. USE THE APPROPRIATE GEAR

Trekking poles are great gear because they take so much impact and weight off of your knees. They also will help you to hike over the muddy puddles along the trail, and you can use them to probe the depth of water-logged segments.

Gaiters are also a great way to preserve your hiking pants and to keep mud away from the upper laces of your boots helping to keep your feet dry.

5. BRING GROCERY BAGS (OR A WMTC EQPD BAG!) FOR YOUR MUDDY BOOTS:

When you get back to the car, you don’t want to get the mud all over the upholstery. Pop your boots into those plastic bags, cinch them up, and you’ll be able to clean them when you get home without also having to clean your car.  Find out how to get a WMTC EQPD Bag HERE.

6. DON’T FORGET ABOUT BOOT CARE

– Rinse with water (don’t scrub yet) to get the bulk of the mud off your boots. Don’t immerse.

– Lightly scrub with a nylon brush or old toothbrush. Take out the laces and clean them separately. This will allow you to get to the rest of the boot under the laces.

– If the boots are wet inside, then stuff them with an old t-shirt, paper towels, or newspaper.

– Let them dry. Don’t accelerate this by putting them near or over  a heat source. Leather gets damaged near heat and can shrink your boots!  Let them slow dry.

– Waterproof. If your boots are Gore-Tex, don’t waterproof them or you’ll clog the breathable aspect of the boots. If they are old and the membrane is worn out, then you can waterproof them like any other boot. 

White Horse Ledge Project

- Yohann Hanley -

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Erosion at Whitehorse Ledge

This summer we are excited to continue our partnership with Access Fund and local climbing organization Friends of the Ledges with project work at the Echo Roof section of Whitehorse Ledge in North Conway. 

The Echo Roof area is a popular destination for groups and beginner climbers. With a large earthen bench at the base of the climbs, it provides a great spot for folks to hang out while belaying and waiting to climb. This area also has a good concentration of moderate, top-rope climbs on a cliff that is mostly known for its long multi-pitch adventures.

Unfortunately, the concentrated use and the natural run-off from the cliff has done serious erosion damage to the belay area and slope below. You can see the original soil lines, both on the cliff and in the root masses that are now exposed at the base of the cliff. Efforts to conserve the site were made approximately 15 years ago, but the native timber used for structures has rotted away. 

The planned work will entail constructing approximately 20 linear feet of stone stairs at the northern end of the bench (roughly under the Echo route) and a 117 foot-wide retaining wall to stop the erosion of the earthen bench where climbers stage. The main work zone will be from the base of Future Shock (south route) over to the base of Echo (north route), but the construction closure will extend all the way north to the Waiting for Comeau route because of the highline rigging. We will also be working on stabilizing the soil at the base of several of the climbs. This requires special attention to detail – not changing the grade or nature of the start of a climb, and not creating fall hazards for climbers.  

Similar to the work done last year at Cathedral Ledge, this project will involve a lot of stone splitting and shaping. The main quarry source for the project is a debris field from a 10-15 year-old rock slide in the Waiting for Comeau area. Large blocks will be split down to moveable sizes and transported by multiple highline systems to the work area, roughly 200 feet uphill and 200 feet to the south. We will once again be bringing in crew members from the AMC’s White Mountain Professional Trail Crew to work with the Access Fund Conservation Crew team, and we are fortunate to have several members of last year’s Cathedral Ledge project crew with us again this year.

Work is planned to begin in early June and continue through mid-August. The work area will be closed to climbing while crews are there (typically Monday-Thursday, 7am-5pm) but climbers will be able to pass through after checking in with crew. The work areas will be open to climbing during non-work hours, with the exception of areas we may need to occasionally rope off for safety concerns.

Meet Glenn Rummler: Director of Marketing + Branding

2020 GR headshot gray

Location : Campton, NH

Start Date with WMTC : June 2019

Why I’m involved with the WMTC :

I grew up going into the mountains and supporting sustainable access to wild places is very important to me.

Interests/activities Creating Art, Designing Objects, Cycling 

Favorite muscle powered activity to partake in : Cycling

Favorite trail in the Whites and why :  Haven’t been on enough to have a favorite yet.

Favorite piece of outdoor gear :  Trek, Crocket 7 cyclocross bike.

Favorite color : Greens 

Something most people don’t know about me : I was awarded the lead in the musical Oklahoma after trying out on a dare in high school.

Best meal I’ve ever had while camping or out on the trails : Fresh-caught trout, grilled

Three words that describe how I feel when I’m out on the trails : Free, recharged, inspired 

Life before the WMTC : Glenn has 20+ years of experience working in multiple, creative industries focused on strategy-driven solutions and has developed a fine-tuned, unique approach. He consistently delivers innovation that drives relevance, resilience and growth supported by creative, brand-centric strategies. Companies and organizations who have benefited range from Disney, DirecTV, Carrera Sport USA, and United Way to City Peanut Shop, Meriwether Cider Company, World Cycle & XC Ski, and State 64. Glenn grew up out west, always close to the mountains, and is an avid cyclist and snowboarder trying to ignore an aging body.

Partner Spotlight: NorthWoods Stewardship Center

- Kelsey Evans -

The NorthWoods Stewardship Center is a non-profit educational, research and conservation service organization based in East Charleston, Vermont. For the past 32 years, NorthWoods has been serving the communities of northern Vermont and New Hampshire, and through our education, research and conservation service programs, we have used hands-on work and learning to connect people to the natural places in which they live.

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Our camp and education programs introduce children to the wonders of learning and playing outside in nature -- instilling a confidence and sense of adventure when exploring the natural world. Through our Conservation Corps program, we hire and train local youth in what is usually their first paying job, teaching teamwork and tool use all while building trail, learning about and completing conservation projects, and giving teens an introduction to skills they can use to launch into a future college or professional career in environmental conservation. Our Forestry and Conservation Science programs build upon that experience, providing paid internships and seasonal professional crew positions to adults while educating and completing forestry projects and watershed conservation work for both local landowners and town or state owned public spaces.

NorthWoods first connected with the White Mountain Trail Collective in 2019, when our Conservation Corps was recruited, alongside many other inspiring regional organizations, to complete work on the historic Crawford Path. This project provided NorthWoods with a new opportunity to gain experience with the unique demands of working on the steep slopes and in the sensitive high elevation habitats of the Whites.

NorthWoods Conservation Corps Director, Dusty May, recalls working with the crew while they were transporting boulders down the mountain via highline. "NorthWoods crews are used to working on the rugged and remote trails of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, but this was by far the busiest and most popular trail our team had ever worked on. Hikers would frequently stop and ask questions, and it was a wonderful opportunity for the crew to interface with and educate the public about the project, and also to feel firsthand appreciation for our work from the end users."

NorthWoods Executive Director, Maria Young, reinforces the importance of this partnership, "The White Mountain Trail Collective has been a wonderful partner and truly does act as a collective by cultivating relationships between trail organizations throughout the region. Through our relationship with the WMTC, NorthWoods has had the opportunity to build both our crew experience and capacity, and bring those skills home to apply to projects on our home turf."

This was well illustrated last year, when NorthWoods was pleased to partner again with the WMTC on the project at Glen Ellis Falls — recruiting a special crew to receive training from members of the HistoriCorps to help restore and reinforce the historic stonework first built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, while also adapting to modern accessibility guidelines. This additional training and experience in advanced rock work will serve our crews well when completing future projects in our region.

NorthWoods is slated to field another crew in partnership with the WMTC and the US Forest Service during the summer of 2021. According to Dusty, "These projects continue to be highlights of the summer for our crews. Together we have accomplished great strides in conservation and stewardship outcomes over the past two seasons, and we are excited to continue our efforts in partnership with the WMTC in the years to come."