White Mountains Week 1--

When heading off to the woods for any span of time, certain jitters tend to arise. What is the weather going to be, are there going to be any problems during the week, what are the challenges that we are going to face? Every time I go to the woods I can always expected the unexpected. This week Ack and I (Goose) were taking our group out to Dream Lake in the Mahoosucs. It was a trip filled with learning, hard work, and of course, some unexpected happenings.

For me, this was my first experience leading teenagers into the woods. I had really no idea what it would be like to interact with, hang out, and work with this age group. I was excited and bit nervous, but who wouldn’t be? Overall I would say the week went smooth. There were some minor bumps in the road that Ack and I dealt with, but in the end no one was hurt and everyone seemed to enjoy the work they accomplished.

Our main projects were on the Peabody Brook trail, next too Dream Lake. What appeared to be the work of the beavers, two large pools had formed, and sunk the bog bridges. Each pool was over two feet deep ( not including the depth of the mud) and at least 20 feet long. Our job was to dig two large drainages and several small bleeders with the hope that with some sun the area can dry out. Then we had to rip out all the old bog bridges, evaluate the material and decide whether or not to reuse it, or have someone take it back to the woods to rot away. We had several stacks of various new materials, stringers and base logs, ready and waiting. Our last step was to construct new bridges with mostly new and some old materials. The installation of prefabricated bridges goes very quickly, once someone gains the knowledge of how to put them in, bog bridging becomes a very fast moving project. However there are two major things that can make a project slow down. One, when you have to crib bridges together. This means run two logs under what would be the normal base logs and spike it to them. This connects the bridges together so when the water rises, your bridges don’t float away.

The other process that can slow down your project is when you have to construct materials out of native trees. This has to be done when you need a long bridge of if you run out of base logs. This highlight of my trip was the felling I did of a tree to construct more base logs. Because of all the cribbing that had to be done to cross the mud pits we were in need of some more base logs. On the Wednesday of our trip me and 3 members embarked on a mission. I instructed the members of my crew that were helping me on the good traits of a tree when bringing it down. Dan on the crew was the one who found our great tree. Fat base, tall, strait, with a clean falling zone and it even was a Spruce. It was the prefect tree, or at least I think it is.

After the tree was chosen we began the prep work, clearing escape paths and the area all around the tree. The fist part of getting a tree to fall safely, is to create the hinge. This is down with the axe. I was responsible for this step. If the hinge is done right you can get a tree to fall in a controlled direction. I created the hinge with my axe and now it was the volunteers turn to finish the felling of the tree. Dan and Zuben, took the cross cut and made the back cut in the perfect spot, one inch above the bottom of the notch. I told Dan and Zuben to stop and step back, fear of cutting two close to the hinge. I barely poked the tree and I hear Rich, "Falling!" Crash. The tree landed right in the spot I wanted it to, perfect landing. I was very pleased with myself and the group for felling a tree safely and correctly. The tree ended up being about 50 feet tall and approximately 85 years old.

After having hard working days, Ack and I would cook for the boys, they were always eager and willing to eat. Sometimes though Ack and I would have to stuff them up. Leftovers, ha, what are leftovers? On the last morning we were in the woods Ack and I both woke up to the sound of smashing logs and scraping brush. Ack was groggy enough to think what he saw was a kid, at first. It turned out to be a moose, no closer then 15 feet away from our tent. It had run vigorously away from us when Ack had yelled at it.
When reflecting about time in the woods, I find that I do not really think about how cold or wet I ever was. I focus on the highs. It did rain on us for most of the week, but we as a group were warm, for the most part, and we got a good chunk of work completed. This week was a great way to start the summer, adventures waiting around every turn in the trail.

Submitted by: Goose