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Re: John Muir Trail Question

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John Muir Trail Question
November 04, 2015 03:16PM
After hiking the JMT down from Nevada Falls a few weekends back, I was noticing how much asphalt is on that trail. I've noticed it over the years, but never really thought about it. The very wet hike back down had me thinking about the logistics of getting the paving material that far up a trail. I have noticed this on portions of other trails as well. My guess is that back in the 40's, sections of trails were paved to encourage people to explore the trails in and around the valley. Does anyone have any good info on this? I always love finding out about the infrastructure and history in Yosemite.
Thanks in advance.
Re: John Muir Trail Question
November 04, 2015 03:55PM
In addition to the JMT, the Four Mile Trail, the Valley Loop Trail, the Panorama Trail, and the Merced Lake trail to the end of Little Yosemite Valley (past the JMT/Half Dome junction) all show evidence of having been paved. My hunch is that they were paved during the 60's or 70's. I remember some trails in Arches National Park were also paved in the late 70's, but the paving didn't last long, especially where it was applied over bare sandstone. As for why they were paved, who knows--perhaps an attempt to control trail erosion, or as a cheaper trail construction technique than rip-rap or extensive rock work.
avatar Re: John Muir Trail Question
November 05, 2015 04:34PM
I had always thought the Yosemite trails were paved during the 1930s as part of the CCC (California Conservation Corp) work projects that occurred during the Great Depression.

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avatar Re: John Muir Trail Question
November 09, 2015 07:07AM
Quote
plawrence
I had always thought the Yosemite trails were paved during the 1930s as part of the CCC (California Conservation Corp) work projects that occurred during the Great Depression.

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Civilian



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avatar Re: John Muir Trail Question
November 06, 2015 05:38PM
There is also a section of the Ostrander Lake trail where old blacktop is present, as it crosses the first major open area after climbing away from Bridalveil Creek, about here.
Re: John Muir Trail Question
November 06, 2015 06:27PM
The Ostrander Lake trail used to be a road (used to supply the ski hut), so they may have paved portions for dust or erosion control. Many sections of other former roads (Old Big Oak Flat, Old Tioga) are. Still paved in places.
avatar Re: John Muir Trail Question
November 06, 2015 07:26PM
In that location the trail is crossing rock, so perhaps the blacktop was to provide a less-downward-tilted surface for the road?
avatar Re: John Muir Trail Question
November 05, 2015 11:02PM
My understanding is that at some point in the past the standard trail construction method was to pave them.

Then starting at some MORE recent point in the past it was decided that asphalt wasn't natural, or toxic, or something like that. Bottom line asphalt fell out of favor and isn't being used anymore. What's out there is being left, but when it deteriorates to the point where they do trail maintenance and rebuild a section of trail they use a method with rocks that's kind of like cobble stones. You're walking on rocks and it's slick as hell when the dirt/gravel gets on top of the rocks. It's like walking on ball bearings. You see a lot of this method on the JMT section that goes up the gully to the left/east of Nevada Fall and the upper part of the Upper Yosemite Falls trail.

The section of JMT from Happy Isles up to the first bridge, i.e. up to the 'Comfort' station, is a well deserved exception. That section of trail must be the most heavily trafficked trail in the park! I imagine they applied for and received an exemption to pave it.

I was in the park for the start of that project and it was kind of fun watching these cute Bobcat scoopers, press rollers, and pavers zipping up and down that trail. Considering how narrow that trail is where do you get equipment small enough to fit up it to pave it?
avatar Re: John Muir Trail Question
November 06, 2015 10:46AM
I have always wondered about those asphalted trails myself. Would love to hear a definitive answer. Just so strange to see the remnants of them, and hard to imagine how difficult it must have been to do that work back in the day. Crazy!
avatar Re: John Muir Trail Question
November 06, 2015 12:00PM
Quote
qumqats
I imagine they applied for and received an exemption to pave it.

Might not have needed one since that section is not Wilderness.
Re: John Muir Trail Question
November 16, 2015 10:03AM
As for why asphalt fell out of favor was due to a number of reasons. One you mentioned, perhaps inadvertently, is that asphalt deteriorates rather quickly in comparison to well set rock. This makes it more time consuming and expensive to maintain. A well constructed trail should last a long time without repair, save for periodic maintenance on water bars and swales. Additionally, bringing in the material needed for the asphalt can have significant impacts on the trail, think of all those mule strings having to pack it in. It is also cheaper to use natural materials at the work site with a few simple tools than all the equipment and other stuff needed for paving. There were also other factors such as aesthetics and environmental concerns, as you mentioned.

The style of trail on the Yosemite Falls trail is called riprap. Riprap is still around but has a different style now, more like a stairway rather cobblestones. Either way, riprap is not popular now but was earlier last century. Riprap is time consuming and expensive to make, think about setting all those rocks, and as you said, slick as snot to walk on.
avatar Re: John Muir Trail Question
November 09, 2015 07:06AM
Looking through Greene... I find that they started paving (and oiling?) in the 1920s...
many miles of roads and trails in the valley were paved by 1930... if you haven't
looked these these documents you may find them extremely interesting...
It's my understanding the paving was done to keep the dust down... there was a
lot of horses...
Probably they oiled the roads for years... this is what was done back in the day
to keep dust down. (was done on a road I lived on as a child)

So... Greene... you have? lemme find the link

here:
http://home.nps.gov/yose/learn/historyculture/lindagreene.htm



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