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24 June 2012

Dude, Where's My Trail? (Middlesex Fells Reservation)

Below is an email I sent to my "friends" at the DCR as well as Friends of The Fells, along with my state representatives. There are probably typos, but when I saw the live branches snapped today, it just got me FUMING!



To whom this may concern;

Imagine my surprise yesterday when out on a normal run along the Reservoir Trail in the Fells when I suddenly realize I'm lost! The trail I usually run on is gone! I actually ran past it TWICE while trying to find it, and finally, after looking for a landmark (the big tree) I find the trail. Apparently, some hooligans had completely covered the trail with brush, leaves, branches and trees! Not only that, but they tried to make it even more dangerous by pulling rocks out of the ground that had been there for years!

So, before bushwacking my way up one of my favorite sections of the Reservoir Trail (the stone staircase), I walk back to the split and notice that someone has gone so far as to paint over the words "Reservoir Trail" on the signpost and put up some kind of sign saying that some trail somewhere was closed, but lacking any clear direction as to where to go. Boy, at least the hooligans had managed to point out the trail was closed -- they must think that people only walk/run/hike in one direction on this trail. Hmm, now this was getting odd. So I bushwacked my way along the trail as normal, taking care to move a lot of the branches and brush off the trail as I went, trying to undo the damage to the trail, wondering what had happened..

As I went out on another run this morning, I kept an eye out to see where I could have possibly gone wrong. Everything seems to go tipsy-turvy around North Dam Rd., or so I thought, because as I continued as usual, I started to notice that there weren't orange blazes on the trees anymore, but -- oh wait! -- there's an Orange Blaze! Certainly the DCR isn't so mismanaged that it would miss removing a blaze when rerouting a trail, right?

So I continued onward, again, never seeing any sign that the trail had been rerouted. The good thing is, this time I was able to go straight up the stone staircase, moving more brush and small trees out form the middle of that path that some inconsiderate people had thrown there (again, this was an impressive amount of work, something that the DCR surely couldn't manage to do. Since they can't spare enough man hours to patrol for off-leash dogs or mountain bikers on the Skyline Trail (both of which were very hard to ignore, as usual, this weekend.))

The icing on the cake is that whoever decided to re-route the Reservoir Trail, for whatever purpose (again, I doubt it was the DCR, since I can't find any information on their web site, and the Fells maps along South Border Rd. would SURELY have been modified to show this change) -- whoever did this decided that snapping the branches on LIVE TREES and leaving them to hang, still attached to the trees, across the "closed" trail in order to provide cover/obstacles. Now that's just plain wrong. I honestly can't believe that the DCR, as incompetent as it has proven itself to be in the Middlesex Fells, could POSSIBLY be THAT incompetent!

No, that's just plain impossible, right? They wouldn't do a half-assed job. They wouldn't have decided that destroying a trail for reforestation by demolishing the eco-system already in place would be best done by digging up rocks, dragging dead trees through the woods and then ripping the branches off live trees would be the best way to serve the public, right? I mean, this is an organization that isn't staffed enough to enforce it's own rules, so how could it possibly waste so much effort on something as mind-numbingly useless as this?

I digress. What I really want to get to the bottom of, is who actually did this? These hooligans should be caught and punished for doing damage in the Fells! Don't worry, I'm going to get together a small group of people to help clear the trail and repaint the blazes, but who's to say this whole fiasco won't happen again?

Thanks for looking into this, I know we're all on the same side!

n.b. - After further research, it appears that Friends of the Fells has noticed this problem, too! ( Boy, now I hope the DCR notices it as well!


Douglas Gray
Medford, MA