×

A month after the storms, downed trees still slowing hiking up north

  • Damage done to hiking trails and bridges by the Oct. 30, 2017, storms. Photos courtesy White Mountain National Forest

  • This Nov. 10 photo shows damage to the Rocky Branch bridge. Many Granite State trails are still impassable after stormy weather late last month.

  • Felled trees blocked the Edmunds Path after the Oct. 30 storm. The trail was open for travel Nov. 6, but is far from normal.

  • The Dry River hiking trail was almost impassable Nov. 1 because of erosion and damage done by a deluge of water following heavy rains in the Oct. 30, 2017, storm. Courtesy—White Mountain National Forest



Monitor staff
Friday, November 24, 2017

It’s been almost a month since the Oct. 30 storm swept through New Hampshire, but hikers in the White Mountains over Thanksgiving weekend have seen that plenty of damage is still evident.

Two major trails are still closed due to damage to trails or bridges, and many open trails are littered with branches or trees that blew down and have not yet been cleared.

“Be prepared to encounter blow-downs,” said Marianne Leberman, recreation wilderness program leader for the White Mountain National Forest. “We’re trying to cut out the blow-downs so trails are passable. They’re not pretty, but you can get through.”

Part of the issue, she said, is that the forest’s seasonal work crews brought in for the spring through fall had already gone home when the storm hit, reducing the number of people available to clear trails.

The National Forest has set up a program for hikers to report problems on trails, either through downloadable forms for “you old-school pen and paper types” or through an online system available via cellphones. They are on the National Forest Stewardship Network site.

“That is very helpful ... lets us know where to concentrate,” Leberman said.

The Appalachian Mountain Club, which has stewardship of many hiking trails throughout New Hampshire, reported that “the amount of blown down trees and trail erosion rivaled that of Hurricane Irene in 2011” with Crawford Notch hit particularly hard.

“Nauman Tentsite, just south of Mount Pierce, was probably damaged the most. It now appears almost unrecognizable, with over 50 blown down trees, many of which still have their 5-foot rootballs attached to them,” AMC reported on its website.

The Dry River Trail in Crawford Notch, known as a remote and difficult hike even in good times, remains closed because of damage caused by torrential rains that sent water pouring down the trail. The Rocky Branch Trail near Jackson is also closed because a bridge over Rocky Branch creek was badly damaged and is impassable.

Particularly in Crawford Notch, hikers should seek information at trailheads before heading out, and prepare for hikes to take longer than they may expect.

As always, Leberman urged hikers to follow the Hike Safe creed, carrying essentials to deal with unexpected events such as extra food and water and a source of light, even for a day hike, and preparing for the sharp change in weather that can always occur in the White Mountains, especially as winter approaches.

“Things might feel good down below at the parking lot, but you go up and all of a sudden it’s ice-covered and you need crampons,” said Leberman.

For more information, see http://www.hikesafe.com/.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)