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Bootpathguy
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PostMon Jan 07, 2019 4:16 pm 
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Interesting article. Not a Pacific Northwest trail system but still a fair comparison in my opinion.

I don't agree with everything mentioned

"You see, trails are damaged by three forces ó erosion, displacement and compaction ó and hikers cannot apply these forces with serious effect"

I somewhat agree with...

"Itís not use thatís causing trail damage. Itís design, which encourages erosion"

Something not mentioned is, the use of hiking poles and their effect on the soils. The countless stabbings of the soils on both sides of the trails.

https://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2019/01/viewpoint-hikers-dont-ruin-trails.html

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geyer
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PostMon Jan 07, 2019 4:52 pm 
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Bootpathguy wrote:
"Itís not use thatís causing trail damage. Itís design, which encourages erosion"

Yeah...but the trails were designed to be used by hikers, and the hikers' continued use prevents plants from taking root, and plant roots help prevent erosion. So in essence, yes, hiking does cause erosion.

And as someone who took a single geotechnical engineering class in college (obviously an expert  wink.gif ) compaction can result from either repetition or heavy weights. Saying humans don't have enough force to cause compaction is wrong (he does say that this is mostly true in rocky soils, but he presents it as an overgeneralization). If the force causes the soil to lose water content, it will compact.

I'd like to see this writer list some sources for his opinions. i get that his point is more about how better design would discourage erosion, and he's right, but starting off by disputing some pretty indisputable facts isn't a great way to convince people.
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RumiDude
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PostMon Jan 07, 2019 6:17 pm 
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Well, I cannot vouch for trails in the Northeast, but my experience in the Northwest has been that unused or overused, trails deteriorate and thus require maintenance. Though not the primary cause of trail deterioration, hikers do contribute to it. In that respect, overuse would hasten the need for maintenance. This is especially true during the rainy season.

Rumi

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Waterman
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PostMon Jan 07, 2019 7:22 pm 
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Here in the PNW, erosion is a huge factor in the degraded trails I have hiked on. Cleaning waterbars, unclogging drainage ditches, clearing drainpipes is no fun. Sure you can scuff out a waterbar with your boot, but to be really effective you need to use shovels.
I try to do a couple of days of shovel work every spring or fall. Its not much more than a drop in the bucket.
If we all give one day of trail maintance perhaps we could encourage others to do the same or use it to start a brief conversation about LNT with passing day hikers. After all shouldn't we teach others by example?

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Pahoehoe
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PostMon Jan 07, 2019 8:19 pm 
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What about hikers walking around a muddy spot and turning a 18 inch trail into a 5 foot wide bog?

What about trails that turn into ditches and then streams full of run off?
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MyFootHurts
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PostMon Jan 07, 2019 8:34 pm 
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The only solution to prevent any damage to trails caused by hikers is to ban people from using trails.
Do it for the children!
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texasbb
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PostMon Jan 07, 2019 9:51 pm 
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Bootpathguy wrote:
Something not mentioned is, the use of hiking poles and their effect on the soils. The countless stabbings of the soils on both sides of the trails.

I've never seen anything that would pass as damage caused by trekking poles.  Do you have examples?  If anything, it would seem that trekking poles aerate the soil, partially countering hiker-caused compaction.
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Pahoehoe
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PostMon Jan 07, 2019 9:52 pm 
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I think compaction is good on a trail and bad off trail.
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RandyHiker
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PostMon Jan 07, 2019 10:13 pm 
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I think one should take that article with a grain of salt.  Trails and soils are radically different in the Adirondacks than around here.  I hiked a tiny section of the AT in NY recently and much of the trail surface was slick rock granite and gravel.  Very little of the trail was on "soil".
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cascadeclimber
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PostTue Jan 08, 2019 10:21 am 
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Uh, that's just wrong, at least for west slope rain(ish) forest trails.

I've been hiking on trails like the Cable Line, Old Si, and Mailbox for 25 years now. The explosion of people on them absolutely loosens soil and causes erosion, rutting, and most damaging of all "fixing". Where these trails, particularly the Cable Line, have been shifted slightly to one side or the other, the abandoned section quickly grows back in.

Footfalls on trails increase erosion. That said, erosion on west-slope cascade trails below treeline is a way, way overblown issue often used to justify cutting down hundreds or even thousands of trees and cutting through miles of slope to "fix" a trail.

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BigBrunyon
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PostTue Jan 08, 2019 10:25 am 
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Set a weight limit per group, like 180 pounds a piece, so if you got 5 people, total can't be pushin' more than 9 hundo.

It would encourage young'ns to get out there on the trails, cause heavier adults would have to bring 'em along to offset and lower the avg weight so they don't exceed the limit

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treeswarper
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PostTue Jan 08, 2019 1:02 pm 
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BigBrunyon wrote:
Set a weight limit per group, like 180 pounds a piece, so if you got 5 people, total can't be pushin' more than 9 hundo.

It would encourage young'ns to get out there on the trails, cause heavier adults would have to bring 'em along to offset and lower the avg weight so they don't exceed the limit

No, you'd need to figure in the size of feet to make this work.  Smaller feet do not spread out the weight.  Think snowshoes.   clown.gif  Like, maybe let people wear those swamp shoe innertube things that I've seen somewhere.  To increase time between bladings, some loggers require log trucks to lower their tire pressure which increases the surface area of the tire and reduces the pounds per square inch of the tires.    There are a few studies of this and it works. 

Seriously, that article is just somebody spouting generalized info.  They're probably going to move out here and "help" us.

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Kim Brown
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PostTue Jan 08, 2019 2:04 pm 
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treeswarper wrote:
No, you'd need to figure in the size of feet to make this work.† Smaller feet do not spread out the weight.

There's also heavy walkers. And those who walk with a pronounced pounding of the heel, rather than a more dispersed strike on the tread.

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rbuzby
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PostTue Jan 08, 2019 3:29 pm 
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When I hiked at Great Basin National Park (easily the best national Park in Nevada) some guy saw I was using poles, so he told me to not poke the poles into the ground next to the trail, because it could damage the fragile alpine plants.  He told me this while standing on a fragile alpine plant, when he stepped off the trail to let me go by.

I certainly do not intentionally spear plants with the poles.  But when it comes to the 2 or 3 feet on each side of the trail, I believe we are going to have to accept that there will be some human impact there.  Footprints, pole holes, stuff like that.
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RandyHiker
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PostTue Jan 08, 2019 6:32 pm 
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cascadeclimber wrote:
Where these trails, particularly the Cable Line, have been shifted slightly to one side or the other, the abandoned section quickly grows back in.

The meta point of the article is that if trails are engineered to handle it, massive traffic isn't a problem.  One of those engineering parameters is a max 10% grade.  Cable Line is way way steeper than that as the old Mailbox Peak trail.  However the West Tiger 3, new Mailbox Peak , Mt Si trail, Ira Spring and Granite Mtn trails are and they ARE handling the traffic without undo erosion.

So while "straight up boot paths" do end up eroding a lot actual "properly constructed trails" do OK.

Image how deep the rut on the Cable Line would be if the West Tiger 3 "offical" trail had not been built and all the traffic was using the Cable Line.  I suspect you would be gnashing your teeth even more.
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