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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

No. 12/15 To No. 19 Road Reroute

bridge and steps
bridge (photo by Arlen Matsen)

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from the Grand Traverse Hiking Club NCTA Chapter Newsletter, Dec 2009 used with permission

by Arlen Matsen

Phase 3 of last year’s Hodenpyl - NCT Reroute was completed on November 2. This new section of the NCT measures 4.7 miles from the corner of No.12 and 15 roads to its terminal point where it reconnects to the NCT at No.19 Road. There is parking at No.12/15 Road, and another lot adjacent to Harvey Bridge at No.19 Road.

This reroute was built from August to mid- November by our Trail Crew of 32 workers. It is our most rugged section of hiking trail and involves eleven stream crossings, and numerous steep ravines. Bridges are in place, water bars built, steps installed, trees blazed the familiar blue, and signage erected where necessary.

Never was there a section of trail built that involved so much benching into clay, while working through an unusually wet October. Heavy were our shoes as they became laden with Manistee River clay, but the views of the river, and the sound of rushing creeks in the ravines gave us an inspiring contact with a truly wilderness setting. On two occasions we brought an orange plastic sled from home to help carry decking to the bridge sites, while we used Ed’s wagon to do the same. The skillful use of 4x6’s, 2x4’s, 2x6’s, 6x6’s, nails, spikes, drills, Pulaskis, McCleods, bowsaws, loppers, levels, hammers, flagging, and miles of walking classify all of this crew as “Pros”.

trail steps
Sara's steps (photo by Arlen Matsen)
We secured two grants from the NCTA totaling $1306 to pay for some of the materials. The more we worked, the more needs we discovered, so another grant from the NPS for $286 was secured. The ravines and streams challenged us again for more funding. As we began to approach rifle deer hunting season, a 16-foot bridge needed to be built and adjacent 17 steps up the Big Ravine. Deena Barshney and Sara Cockrell came to the rescue and both wrote checks to cover the need of an additional $850. So, when you are out hiking the new NCT, about a mile from Harvey Bridge, you will discover two very special places. We call them Deena’s Bridge and Sara’s Steps, a most surprising legacy indeed; our crew and club are grateful.

An outstanding feature of this reroute is that there are at least 12 scenic vistas along the Manistee River. At the eastern end of this section of trail, where the new trail joins the existing NCT, coming from Wheeler Creek, there is a fantastic overlook which some of us believe exceeds even the Highbanks Rollway site. You may wind up with muddy boots, but the hike is worth it. And hopefully the trail is wide enough so you won’t be scratched by many of those thorn bushes (puckerbush) and hawthornes. True, there aren’t the flowers of the Hodenpyl area, but you can try to spot the unusual blue beech trees.
Manistee River
Manistee River (photo by Ed Morse)

On the subject of the Highbanks Rollway, the section of trail leading to it has been faithfully maintained for many years by Fred & Kathy Sabel and Larry & Donna Dodd. It has been included in their reports as a place needing restoration due to trashing and erosion. Dick Naperala, John Heiam and I will propose to the Cadillac DNR when we meet for our annual meeting that this site be given particular attention as a special place worth stabilizing and protecting.

This segment is on NCTA map MI-05

See Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter of the NCTA


Martha Z said...

I like this look at a long distance trail in the making. These volunteers are doing a great job.

Marlaine said...

Great photos! Imagine walking that trail 100-200 years ago. Mind boggling!

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

Martha- Thanks- Trails this length are never really "done" = there will always be work to do and reroutes. I really like being part of it

Marlaine- It's a lot of fun to follow the history of those who did walk portions of this route along the way.