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Phelps Brook High Water Bridge

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  • Phelps Brook High Water Bridge

    Noticed this on the DEC Backcountry Info Page.

    "The high-water crossing footbridge over Phelps Brook on the VanHo Trail to Mt. Marcy just above Marcy Dam came to the end of its service life and was removed by DEC. When Phelps Brook is running high and the low water crossing is unsafe, hikers can use the newly developed Phelps Brook Lean-to Trail between the South Meadow (aka Marcy Dam Truck) Trail (0.5 mile north of Marcy Dam) and the Van Ho Trail (above the crossing). The trail is marked with red Foot Trail markers. (10/8)."

    Did the bridge collapse? That would have been un-expected because I don't think it was that old; or, no older than a lot of bridges.

    And that's quite a detour.

    Don

  • #2
    I heard it was vandalized but cannot confirm. If it was an act of vandalism, it must have been pretty severe to warrant scrapping the whole section of trail.

    Edit: I haven't seen this new trail and from what I can tell it doesn't appear on OSM or CalTopo. Can anyone update either of these maps?

    https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=15/44.1598/-73.9305

    https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=44.1...129&z=14&b=mbt
    My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.

    Comment


    • Hear the Footsteps
      Hear the Footsteps commented
      Editing a comment
      I have this preconceived notion (memory) that this bridge was relatively new, no more than a decade and well built. Based on that and what you said. Maybe there was vandalism.

      In my experience DEC has not been in the business of dismantling bridges.

      The bridge in question as washed out, rebuilt. The next spring it got washed out again and rebuilt a second time. And now apparently removed.

      Examples:
      The bridge on the pre-Irene trail crossing Calamity Brook was awful for years. It had a tilt and was unsafe if icy. I think it took the Hurricane to remove it.
      The new one on the new route of Calamity Brook Trail is starting to break down and has a tilt. It crosses a tributary to Calamity Brook.
      And the two on Bradley Pond Trail. The first stood there for years unusable. The second was without railings for years.
      The one on the trail to Blueberry LT in the Sewards. It was broken stringer for quite a long time.
      The one on the Lake Arnold trail that has one tilted stringer is completely unusable.

      They did take out a bridge next to Slide Brook camping area in the Dixes. Or maybe the weather took it out

    • gebby
      gebby commented
      Editing a comment
      FlyFishingandBeer BTW those tweets are now gone.

    • FlyFishingandBeer
      FlyFishingandBeer commented
      Editing a comment
      gebby I saw that. I went back to look to make sure i wasn't taking crazy pills. Glad I'm not the only one.

  • #3
    I think the new trail has been planned for a while. I thought that it was supposed to be completed a couple of years ago, but that obviously didn't happen. I can't remember where I had read about it in the past. I didn't realize that it was replacing the high water bridge. I thought it was just a way to "cut the corner" for people coming from South Meadow.

    I hiked in from South Meadow on Friday, and was surprised to see the signs at the new trail. We should have taken the new trail, but went to Marcy Dam instead. We didn't notice the spot where the old bridge was, but we were kind of confused when we got to the brook crossing and didn't see the bridge. I wish I had known that it was gone so that I could have paid more attention to what that site looks like now.
    ADKHP Wiki

    Comment


    • #4
      The new trail past the lean-to starts from the truck trail just before (coming from South Meadow) the bridge over Phelps Brook and goes to the high water route at the site of the high water bridge. It is shown on the most recent ADK High Peaks map - both on the south side and on the inset map on the north side.

      Comment


      • Hear the Footsteps
        Hear the Footsteps commented
        Editing a comment
        Tony,
        Found the new route on the new ADK map.

        Guesstimate is that where this new route joins the truck trail would be about 2x from Marcy Dam as would be the Squirrel Crossing.
        Does that sound about right to you?

      • tgoodwin
        tgoodwin commented
        Editing a comment
        Don;
        Yes, the start of that trail is about 2x the distance from Marcy Dam as would be the "Squirrel Crossing". At one point, the DEC had a sign after one crossed the bridge below Marcy Dam that pointed to "Lean-to" with an arrow left. From there, it was a good 0.6 mi. to the lean-to. I suggested that the distance should be on the sign, and was prepared to put it on myself; but the lean-to sign has came down. Maybe good that few will ever find that lean-to, but still a poor way for DEC signs to direct campers to appropriate places to camp.

    • #5
      "came to the end of its service life" is a euphemism for "we do not like it due to [something that we are not willing to share with you because of our shyness]".

      Comment


      • #6
        Where is this new trail? I was up there last October and didn't see anything new, except for a sign to a campsite 1500 feet before the trail to Phelps.
        Mike

        ADK 46r #8003; 6W
        2nd round: 16
        SL6r #596
        Catskill 3500 21/39; 11W

        Comment


        • #7
          Heard from rbalbs that latest is that the timbers had rotted. "...railing posts were badly rotted as were the timbers"

          Comment


          • #8
            Click image for larger version  Name:	phelps bridge.JPG Views:	0 Size:	19.4 KB ID:	509301
            Pretty sure this was it, from this august. It was pretty sketchy, and im pretty sure i didnt use the "handrail" as i thought i might have fallen off with it had i put any of my weight on it. Definitely didnt look like that last august.
            "...don't assume you can't do it...we all make mistakes and sometimes fail. Keep working and learning, and be committed to improving fitness, and there is no limit to what you can do." Joe Bogardus
            "I believe it is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown. The only true failure would be not to explore at all." Ernest Shackleton

            Comment


            • FlyFishingandBeer
              FlyFishingandBeer commented
              Editing a comment
              FWIW it still looks like it was in better shape than roughly half the bridges in the HPW.

            • bikerhiker
              bikerhiker commented
              Editing a comment
              It was in better shape than most of the mess of timbers i went over that day along the trail between lake arnold and indian falls crossover, but i think the difference of just a few elevated feet over the water for the phelps brook bridge vs the timbers often lying right on the rocks on the upper trail was significant in feeling and visual (you would "step" off the rotted timbers onto rocks or into mud vs "fall" off the rotted bridge into the water), plus that lower phelps bridge surely was in the running for the timbers being travelled by the most foot traffic in the high peaks save for the new bridge below marcy dam and maybe a few others.

          • #9
            Originally posted by Hear the Footsteps View Post
            Heard from rbalbs that latest is that the timbers had rotted. "...railing posts were badly rotted as were the timbers"
            Probably used garbage "natural materials" per DEC guidance, guaranteeing short life span.

            Build new bridge with pressure-treated, do the job right...

            Comment


            • tgoodwin
              tgoodwin commented
              Editing a comment
              TCD; The DEC now does permit the use of treated material - if it can be gotten to the site. Unfortunately, the newer formula for pressure-treated isn't as good as the old stuff. I think that was some combination of chromium and arsenic. The newer is somehow salt-based and requires coated fasteners to prevent rapid rusting.

            • tcd
              tcd commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks, Tony. Yes, I know DEC allows pressure treated lumber now, and that's good. These deteriorating bridges are the price we pay for decades of stupidly not allowing that.

              Even when PT was CCA (Chromated Copper Arsenate) the amount of toxic material on the scale of the woods was miniscule. Very small price to pay for having bridges not fall down every ten years.

          • #10
            Originally posted by tcd View Post

            Probably used garbage "natural materials" per DEC guidance, guaranteeing short life span.

            Build new bridge with pressure-treated, do the job right...
            The next one to go is on Calamity Brook trail on the reroute made after Hurricane Irene.

            This one is immediately at the JCT of trail 126 with 121(Calamity Brook) on the ADK map.

            Just over 9 years old now.

            Don

            Comment


            • Learning The Trails
              Learning The Trails commented
              Editing a comment
              That bridge is absolute trash. Crossed it multiple times this Summer. It's shape had rapidly declined in between each of my visits.

            • Hear the Footsteps
              Hear the Footsteps commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks. I tried to get a look underneath several months ago. Not easy. I think the I saw that one of the horizontals supporting the deck has a break. Eventually it will collapse.

          • #11
            Why would pressure treated lumber be allowed? That's like hauling poison into the woods.
            Leave No Trace! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXO1uY0MvmQ
            ThereAndBack http://www.hikesafe.com/

            Comment


            • FlyFishingandBeer
              FlyFishingandBeer commented
              Editing a comment
              That was true, 20 years ago or so. Modern PT lumber is supposed to be arsenic free and is treated with much milder borates. Not only is borate treated PT lumber non-toxic enough to be used around plant and food gardens, but it also helps mitigate metal fastener corrosion.

            • Bunchberry
              Bunchberry commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks for the update!
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