On Tuesday, July 4th I wanted to go to the Big Pond end of the trail from Big Pond to Alder Lake to finish cutting the briar patch that I had started the day before. I know trail maintenance is not the way most people spend July 4th but I wanted to get the work done! The briar patch is closer to Big Pond so my plan was to park at Big Pond and walk to the patch to finish it up. I thought on the way back I might have time time to cut some other places on the trail. The only cutting that would then remain would be from Alder Lake to the stream where there were still a few spots that needed work. I asked Cindy If she wanted to go and she said “Yes”. I was not concerned about the weather as the forecast included no rain but the highs were supposed to rise to the mid 70’s. Sheila was happy to be going for a second day in a row and jumped into the back seat of my car. We left Livingston Manor at about 9:00 AM and drove out Old Rt 17 to the Beaverkill Road where we turned right. At the intersection with the Barkaboom Road we stayed to the left on Barkaboom Road until we came to the access road for the upper parking area At Big Pond. I turned left and drove up the road and was lucky enough to find somebody leaving. I immediately pulled into the empty spot and about 9:30 AM. I got the pack with new gasoline container in ready by putting in a water bottle and my multitool. We walked over to the trailhead and started out on the trail. We found almost all of the campsites occupied and most people were up and active. As we walked I began to see some spots that could use some trimming but I stuck to my plan of cutting the briar patch first. Soon we were starting uphill through an evergreen forest at about 1 mile. Just after that we broke out into the open where the briar patch starts. I dropped my pack and put the trimmer on the ground to start it. I followed the directions and it immediately started. I began to cut the grass, weeds and briars while Cindy kept Sheila back from the trimming. The woody stems on the briars tend to hurt when they hit! The trimmer was doing a great job of cutting everything. I even tipped it so that the strings were vertical and trimmed back the briars even more. I wanted to make sure that the trimming lasted well into the summer season. The trimming was going great as I neared the top of the hill with quite a bit of the briar patch still to cut. At this point the trimmer made a funny noise and stopped cutting! The curse struck again! I stopped the trimmer and removed the housing from the reel. It seemed as if the bolt had melted part of the reel. I soon found out why when I gingerly touched the the bolt and found it very hot! I got out my multitool to trying to loosen the bolt but several tries showed this would not be possible. I couldn’t believe I would have to leave this section uncut again. We turned around and head back to the car. The return trip went quickly as I was not trimming as was very annoyed. We were back a the car by 11:00 AM after hiking around 2 miles and working for an hour and half. I drove back to Livingston Manor and decided to Go to Home Depot in Monticello to see what they could do about the bolt on the trimmer.
When I got to Home Depot, I entered the store with the entire lower part of the trimmer and the head I had bought there the day before. At the Service Desk I was directed to Tool Rental where a former student of mine went to work on the trimmer. I wandered around the store and when I came back she told me she could not get the bolt loose. Her supervisor happened to be present and he also tried unsuccessfully to loosen the bolt. He finally told me that they could not do anything. I informed him that I expected an entire new curved shaft trimmer since I had installed the part I bought in their store on a trimmer that had also been purchased in their store. He again repeated that he could not give me the part but then relented and told me to go to the gardening department to get the new one. I think it might have been the look on my face or the tone of my voice that let him know I would not give up. I went to gardening and they eventually found a similar part that look a different diameter line. I explained that I had just purchased from them a pack of line and would now need different line.The manager of the department told me to take as much line as I needed. I selected a reasonable package. The clerk marked everything as “Customer Satisfaction” and I left the store with the new shaft and the old one. I later found out the shaft sells for about $70 and the string was $20 so I was pleased at the resolution to the problem. I drove home and on the way called Cindy to see if she wanted to go back out to do some more cutting. To y surprise she said “Yes” and was ready when I got home. Sheila was very excited when she realized we were going out twice in one day! We left the house at about 2:15 PM and headed for the Alder Lake trailhead. My plan was to cut the nettles, briars, grass and brush along the trail to the stream. E would then turn around and go back to the car and drive to Big Pond. From there we would repeat the walk we took in the morning so that I could finally finish cutting the briar patch. On the way back I would then cut a few stands of nettles on the trail. I drove out Old Rt 17 to the Beaverkill Road where we turned right. At the intersection with the Barkaboom Road we stayed to the right on Beaverkill Road until we came to the left turn for Alder Creek Road. After turning left, I drove to the end of Alder Creek road, turned around and parked near the trailhead. I got the pack with the gasoline container in ready by putting in a water bottle and my multitool. We walked over to the trailhead and started out on the trail around 2:45 PM. The first part of the trail needed no trimming. Eventually we came to an area with briars and nettles so I started the trimmer and began cutting with the new lower shaft and head. Everything went well even though the line was a little thinner than I had been suing. I had brought along more line in case I ran out as I wanted this to be the last attempt to clear the briar patch! At about .5 miles we entered the woods and I turned off the trimmer. We passed through the grassy patch I had cut the day before and followed the trail as it turned left onto a woods road. I began to see some nettles and briars so I again started the trimmer and cut those. We walked downhill passing the first beaver meadow and at 1.2 miles we were at the spring. I cut a stand of nettles and then told Cindy we were turning around to go to Big Pond. Cindy had another plan which involved hiking farther, adding another hill and walking through several muddy areas. We followed her plan and continued across the stream and up the hill that I had already cut the day before. Since I had already done all the cutting, there was about .7 miles of walking before we entered the briar patch. During this time we slipped and slid through the mud and I got to concentrate on just how heavy the trimmer was becoming. Eventually we reached the spot were I had run out of string the day before and I knew I had to cut uphill to the place we had stopped in the morning. I didn’t think this would be more than 150 feet but I was very wrong as it was almost .2 miles! I took off the pack and started up the trimmer. The trimmer was working well and I was careful to stop occasionally to clear the weeds that got wound around the shaft. While I was working, Cindy sat on a log to rest. I kept thinking I would have to change the string at some point since some of the briars were very old and thick. I ran out of gas first and had to walk all the way back to my pack to get the container. I walked back uphill and filled the trimmer and stowed the gas container beside the trail. I walked uphill to where I had stopped in the morning and started trimming back to where I had just been. I thought I was in trouble as the trimmer was sputtering and not cutting very well. It perked up and I came to the conclusion that I had let some air get into the fuel line. I continued on down the trail toward my pack trimming a few spots I had missed. When I got to the pack, I trimmed a little more and then shut the trimmer off. I walked back up the trail to retrieve the gas copntainer and then returned to the pack. I shouldered the pack and started back toward the car with Cindy and Sheila just ahead. I started the trimmer one more time to clean up some errant nettles, briars and ferns and then turned it off for good. Of course on the way back we had to cross the muddy areas again. In one of these areas Cindy took a fall banging her knee on a rock but once she got up everything seemed to be OK. We continued on the trail down the hill to the stream. As we crossed the stream, I knew that we would have to ascend a hill for the next half mile. This normally would not be any challenge but it was hot and the trimmer now seemed twice as heavy as it had on the way out. I admit that I was not in a good mood as we passed through the grassy patch and had to ascend the short, steep hill. However, once we were at the top of the hill the trail leveled and started to descend. The only obstacle left was an enormous tree across the path which I elected to straddle and climb over. We continued down the trail to the car. We arrived at the car at 6:10 PM having hiked over 4 miles in about 3 hours nd 15 minutes. I was glad I had finished cutting the briar patch and that the only trimming to do was between the Big Pond trailhead and the 1 mile out mark.