Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Not Quite Devil's Den Run

Yesterday's Devil's Den run was buggy, hot, and difficult...yet a good run. The run started on familiar ATV and snowmobile trails. The deer flies and mosquitoes were all over me in seconds and it was stifling hot and muggy in the thick woods. I told myself that this was all part of the experience and I tried to tolerate it with a good attitude. I looked forward to reaching the top of Devil's Den because I knew there would be a breeze and no insects! So I traveled fast and made good time, all the while thinking, "breeze, no bugs, breeze, no bugs..."

Sadly, when I got close to the top, just as I should have been breaking out of the trees into the nice breezy open meadow with the beautiful views, I ran into an area that had recently been heavily and brutally logged. Logging is a big part of the economy here and I have nothing against it when it is done responsibly. But these woods had been demolished. Slash had been piled up on both sides of the trail, building a very effective dam so water was pooled 3 feet deep in spots. Side trails had been cleared by just plowing through the trees and brush, and anything knocked down had just been left lying there. The main trail that I was running on had ruts that were 2 and 3 feet deep from driving skidders over it when it was wet and muddy. It became messier and messier with more and more slash strewn about. The water and the mud in the trail started looking black and smelling of oil. The flies seemed to thrive in this environment and I was being eaten alive.

I started looking for the turn off for the summit, but there was so much waste lying around that I couldn't even tell the main trail from the recently cut side trails. I made the wrong choice twice and came to dead ends and had to back track. Eventually I came out onto a dirt road that I recognized and realized I had missed the summit completely. So I was left with no breeze and plenty of bugs. I opted to stay on the dirt roads and headed toward Colcord Pond in Porter. This was much nicer running and the flies seemed to thin out quite a bit. I decided I would run the last 10 miles on pavement to avoid running back through the logged area and to stay out of the bugs.

The roads I ran on have almost no traffic and are very scenic. So, although it was getting close to noon and was very sunny and warm, I didn't really mind running the roads back home. I jumped into Spec Pond for a cool off at the end of my run. I ended up running about 22 miles in 4 hours. Some of those miles were very slow through the messy logging area, but it was all good hard work and I finished with that nice exhausted feeling I get after a good effort.


  1. That is do people get away with shoddy work? Surely someone is responsible to over see these types of operations?

    It reminds me of when I was younger, I grew up on a farm and we hayed the fields. Well pine trees always seemed to find a way to sprout up in the wrong places and we spent a lot of time trying to relocate them rather than cut them all down.

    A guy stopped in from a landscape supplier and offered to buy them...he promised to fill in the holes and not mess up our field....well they took the trees, messed up the field with ruts, didn't fill the holes and never paid.

  2. As a trail builder of mountain biking singletrack, one of my biggest pet peeves is logging operations that destroy trails. To many times i've seen some great singletrack get buried by brush/slash from logging operations. Sometimes it seems that it is done intentionally. The other scenario is when the trail gets used as a skid road and becomes a sunken muck hole. Its unfortunate that this occurs. It maybe that the logging operations are just ignorant to the efforts that goes into hand building and maintaining low impact trails that manage water and traffic well. Even in some of NH State Parks where the economic benefit of trails is highly recognized these same kind of poor logging practices occur, with disregard for the trails. I have no issue with the logging itself, and can appreciate the economic benefits. But i think many times the economic benefit of recreational trails is taken for granted, when it can provide just as much if not more economic benefit to the communities in which they exist. Both can coincide quite well, it just takes a little coordination. It doesn't seem like it would take much effort for the land manager and logger to identify the the trail and create a no cut zone that protects the trail from destruction. The Kingdom Trails in East Burke, VT are an excellent example of this. - KC