By PAM GILLIS, DAVE HARDY, AND SALLY SPEAR
The severe ice storm that hit the northeast in January left many fallen trees and branches on Vermont's hiking trails. It will be a real challenge to clean up, writes Dave Hardy, GMC Field Supervisor. The GMC, US Forest Service, and State foresters are still assessing the extent of the damage as well as checking whether any GMC shelters and bridges were affected.
Warnings posted at trailheads
The first concern is safety. Once-obvious trails (including blazes and signs) may have disappeared in a tangle of branches. Hikers need to focus on not getting lost. In some places map and compass skills will be required to navigate.
Second: beware of snags broken tree limbs and tops still dangling overhead. These are extremely dangerous, especially on windy days.
Trail information needed
Trail maintainers are being asked to wait for spring before starting to clear trail. Hikers can help now by providing information on trail conditions. Planners are working on organizing trail work and estimating the costs. Much of the damage appears to have been to hardwoods (yellow birches, beeches, maples) usually above the 2000-foot level. Many of the bent-over birches should recover, Dave believes. The GMC will be glad to forward reports to land managing agencies or the appropriate clubs/agencies.