Fixing Pochuck

Crew member Monica Day scrunches under the boardwalk to replace parts.

Crew member Monica Day scrunches under the boardwalk and just above water to replace parts.

The Appalachian Trail Pochuck Boardwalk in Vernon, NJ, was a busy place on Saturday, November 12. Families, couples, hikers, and trail runners were out enjoying a warm, sunny late fall day. Nevermind that the boardwalk was a little off-kilter and that members of the Trail Conference’s volunteer West Jersey Trail Crew were sometimes underfoot–actually under the boardwalk–replacing boards, lifting portions of the boardwalk, and repositioning the metal fixtures that hold the boardwalk in place over the swamp.

Trail workers pry a board on the Pochuck boardwalk

Trail workers Pete Zuroff and David Day pry a board on the Pochuck boardwalk

The summer’s tropical storms had lifted the nearly one-mile long boardwalk–“built to be six inches above a thousand-year flood,” according to crew co-chief David Day, who was also among the original builders– at least a foot above that level in the floods that followed. Fortunately, tie-downs kept the platform from floating away, and damage was remarkably minor. “It did what it was supposed to do,” commented one staff member about the boardwalk’s  remarkable endurance.

Lee Mott jacks up a section to make repairs.

Lee Mott jacks up a section to make repairs.

For the most part the wood path settled back down onto its metal posts, largely undamaged, though often not quite in the correct position. Saddle sleeves that originally went over the supporting posts sometimes settled next to them instead or perched precariously on the edge. The result was an uneven but walkable boardwalk. When posts and sleeves were whacked into alignment with a sledge hammer along several long stretches, they settled into place with a sudden but satisfying crash.

Other sections needed more laborious attention, including jacking up the boardwalk to make space for repositioning parts. Water sometimes knee-deep made the work more challenging.

Walkers meet members of the West Jersey Crew at work on the Pochuck Boardwalk.

Walkers meet members of the West Jersey Crew at work on the Pochuck Boardwalk.

By the end of the day, most of the sleeve/post connections had been repaired and the walkway was level once again. In the words of many of those who walked past the crew as they worked, “Thank you!”

–Georgette Weir, Trail Walker editor

About Trail Walker

Since 1920, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference has partnered with parks to create, protect, and promote a network of more than 2,100 miles of public trails in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan region. The Trail Conference organizes volunteer service projects that keep these trails open, safe, and enjoyable for the public. We publish maps and books that guide public use of these trails. The Trail Conference is a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization with a membership of 10,000 individuals and 100 clubs with a combined membership of 100,000 active, outdoor-loving people.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Fixing Pochuck

  1. Ralen says:

    WOW, you’ve done the repairing well. Its good that someone else might get in trouble with it if its not fixed. Great experience to have! Thanks for sharing this day.

    Ralen from valise cabine 

What do you think?