Proper Equipment Needed for Trail Maintenance: Susquehannock Trail Club News by Bill Boyd | Columns

The trail club’s logbook shows that over 270 hours have so far been spent improving the Susquehannock trail system. At this time of year, these hours are mainly devoted to cleaning up windfall and other winter debris.

Just a note here, when we say windfall we are referring to any tree or part of a tree that obstructs the trail. Of course, not all of them are strictly a tree that the wind has knocked down. Some are simply a dead tree that has fallen; a thunderbolt, which can be very messy as it can blow tree pieces all over the place, or just a tree that feels like it’s falling.

Striped maple is guilty of the latter. They don’t seem to have much of a root system. Once they reach a few inches in diameter their favorite thing is to fall off, especially on the trail.

The good thing is that they are soft wood and easy to remove with a small handsaw. Some maintenance workers carry a small bow saw, ideal for this kind of work. And now we have some of the newer types of “razor tooth” saws, both folding and non-folding.

These saws work great because they only cut on the backstroke, eliminating that wobbling or pinching when pushing on a saw and they really cut. Also, the folding ones only weigh about nine ounces; non-foldable ones carry in a belt sheath and don’t weigh much more.

Then, of course, there are the larger purges that require a chainsaw. We have found that the Stihl 170 saw with the 14 inch bar will take care of almost all of these issues. Sometimes it takes some creative cutting, but it’s better than carrying around a larger saw.

And now the 170 comes with a 16-inch bar, which is even better. They’re not production or lumberjack saws by any means, but there are those who say they’re also great for making your firewood and at around 12 pounds they’re not too bad for hauling along trails.

Some of us have installed a shoulder strap to carry them. It is simply a wide luggage strap with a padded seat belt pad slipped over it for your shoulder. When you encounter a blast, just unsnap the quick-release buckle, make your cut, snap it back on, and go on your way.

Some of us enter that phase of our lives where it becomes a contest between Mother Nature and Old Father Time. Carrying a chainsaw on the trails on some days feels like Father Time is getting the upper hand. So we are always looking for ways to lighten the workload.

The best remedy we have found is to get some of the younger generation interested in this business. We are eternally grateful when this happens and consider anyone under 80 to be “younger”.

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