structure in place to support the new bridge
photo Ed Chappel
Four dedicated men worked for 14 hours to repair the North Country Trail near Highbridge (south of Brethren, Michigan). Although more help might have been nice, the small crew realized that given the terrain there was no where that additional people could have been used.
The terrain in this section is extremely steep as the banks slope down to the Manistee River. Several springs seep from the hillside but usually flow only in springtime. However this summer was extremely wet, and the springs continued their work, undermining the trail. The unfortunate result was that a 16-foot section of trail slumped off and disappeared down the slope. There was no way to get around this area and the trail had to be temporarily closed.
Working with the Forest Service the Spirit of the Woods Chapter of the North Country Trail Association has built a bridge to span the damaged area.
Trail work coordinator, Ed Chappel, says that the uprights had to be sunk to a depth of 4 feet to reach a solid foundation on which to base the new structure. Stringers of 4x6 were bolted together for a total length of about 40 feet. Wood was let down by ropes from the top of the bank. The decking had to be brought down by hand in bundles, requiring 27 trips.
The crew reports using the chapter's new generator to supply power to the project. This allowed them to continue to work long after battery-powered tools would have given out. The generator was purchased with Challenge Cost Share money from the National Park Service. The cost of the bridge itself was paid for by the Spirit of the Woods Chapter.
Such efforts by volunteers in cooperation with agencies such as the National Park Service, and National Forest Service are the magic that keep hiking trails open for our enjoyment.
See North Country Trail Closed Near Highbridge
See Spirit of the Woods Chapter NCTA
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