I’m going to try and do some maintenance on the worst sections. I’ll go see what I can do between Makanda & Route 51 hopefully later this week. I know the section up by the Pine Hill road/ Larue Hills trailhead is overgrown for the first 1/2 mile and the junction with Kings Hollow trail there needs blazed. Comment here on any other problems you have encountered and I’ll try and bring it to the attention of the Park Service where it is or take care of it. The trail around Cedar Lake needs more blazes. Any other really bad areas? I know there are some areas that have intersections with other trails that are unmarked but I can’t remember where they all are.
I did a drive by on RT51 and the path I weed wacked up the highway embankment had grown up pretty much over the month. I have a short place to do yet from Eastern Star road to Makanda (about 3 telephone pole distance) and I might go back over the embank…ment.
I had to cut a LOT of rosebushes that had nearly met over the trail making it unhikeable. The weedeater with blades went through roses and saplings pretty decently, though I had to replace 6 blades. (all 3 broke twice from hitting something I shouldn’t have.) Then the reverse fine thread bolt fell off the cutting head and I had to retire the cutter until next time. I ended up doing about 1/3 of what I did today with a manual sickle.
I had 2 fields to clear that look like they haven’t been cut in a couple years judging by the saplings.
You just can’t do that in any normal amount of time with a weed eater. Enter the Snapper Comet. They just have a 33″ single blade (Mine came with a double ended aftermarket Ninja blade that seems to mulch it up great, I didn’t have to use the clutch crossing the fields, but I DID have the discharge flap held up with a bungee cord.) I had to clear the trail for the Snapper to go through the woods about 1/8 mile to the second field, so I mowed while I was traveling. Those sections are really nice now. I did hit a patch of blackberrys about 6 ft long that it just couldn’t push through so I had to use the blade weed cutter. (It goes through blackberrys like they aren’t there, but I’m glad it has a long shaft.)
I was wearing my disposable painter coveralls sprayed with permethrin along with the rest of my clothes, they weren’t up to the roses & blackberrys and I took them off later in the day when I was just in open woods. I think I got 1 chigger bite on my leg and not a single tick. Waiting for tomorrow to see if any more or poison ivy occurs from the bushels of it I cut today.
Anyway traveling through the woods with the snapper, I had to cross a narrow but deep ravine with sides about 45 degree angles. I had to come along the snapper up the other side on the way and way back. Whatever works.
Now hikers & horseback riders don’t have to squeeze through completely overgrown weeds & saplings, or take the dangerous Makanda road with no shoulders and blind curves. Feeling good about it.
My opinion on trail conditions this wet year…
With all the rain, the trails are going to be mushy and really lousy where ATV’s or Horses share. Remember without the support of the Horse groups we wouldn’t have the Elizabethtown leg and would still be walking roads to Battery Rock. The most overgrown areas where the trail is gone are where there is no traffic. At least you can find the trail where horses share even if you have to walk around the worst parts. It’s a trade off.
I do know the trails East of Dutchman Lake have had trail blazes vandalized most likely by the local 4 wheeler traffic. I know that is painting them all with a broad brush as most 4 wheeler riders are probably decent folks. But I can’t see hikers or Horse riders bringing in all the beer cans & throwing them on the trail in those areas. ALL The trail riders I have run into were friendly and seemed like great people. And I have to believe that anyone who disrespects the trail enough to trash it will also get pleasure in destroying markers just because. That doesn’t seem like Horse people and certainly not hikers who can’t afford the weight of lugging around beer cans or destroying the blazes that are so important to figuring where they are.