Bog bridges and more bog bridges at Holeb Cary

Blog Submitted by Anna Cady-NFCT Roving Crew 2011

Holeb Sunset

Sunset at Holeb Cary

Some of you may have already seen the rather ridiculous video that features the Roving Crew performing what appears to be a ritualistic ceremony. There is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this, I promise.

CommuteAnna Cady and James Naughton commute to work

Holeb Camp

Our six-day project was to rebuild the bog bridging between Holeb Pond and Attean Pond near Jackman, Maine. Now, in all honesty, this section isn’t actually part of the official NFCT trail (although considered an official spur trip). It is however, one of the few canoe trips where you can start and end in the same place. The whole adventure is a three-day canoe trip with a portage that winds through a swampy 1.2 miles.

Canoe and Kayak

For us, however, it was a long drive on logging roads and a four-hour paddle to our campsite on Holeb’s Pond. So there we were, three barrels and two coolers of food, all of our personal gear, camp chairs, a dutch oven, a long list of tools, including a chainsaw, and six days to get 100 bog bridges done. Or so we thought. Upon arriving, our friendly local ranger walked the trail with us, and all I could think was, “This has to be more than 100 bridges (by courtney). And there is no way we can finish this.” You see, the week before we had been in Rangeley and we finished ten bog bridges. We just kept crossing rotting bridge after rotting bridge, knowing we were trying to replace every single one.

Bog bridging


Example of bog bridging along the Holeb Cary

By the end of the first day, we had gotten into a pretty good rhythm. We split into two groups working on different sections with Noah-the-chainsaw-man bouncing back and forth to perfect the fit and shape of the logs. After putting the last nail in each bridge, I’d mentally tally up the work accomplished. “Ok, this makes nine in three hours, so about three bridges and hour, and nine percent of the work done. With Max and Naughton, total comes to 16. Maybe if we reach 20 today, we’ll have done one fifth of the project, plenty of time to finish and clean up afterwards.” We ended the day on a cheerful note, feeling quite accomplished. So accomplished, in fact, that after the second day Max and Brendan decided they weren’t needed here and that they should run along and collect GPS coordinates for other sites in northern Maine. We quickly agreed after watching Brendan eat all of our cookies.

NoahNoah posing next to some crew handy-work 

We were in a beautiful spot, and had the evenings to ourselves to swim, read, play guitar. We had reached fifty bridges by lunch on the third day, and it was becoming more and more apparent that this project was potentially never-ending. And so our days trudged on, lugging logs, pounding nails, and attempting to convince Noah that the amount of chainsaw-ing he was doing was a little excessive. By bridge 66, the work was feeling a little bit dreary, mosquito-y, and just a tad disheartening. Usually by this time in the week, volunteers had showed up to shake up our routine a little. Instead, it was still just the four of us and little other contact to the outside world.

The project became even more challenging as we encountered wasps and downpours that extended what was going to be five days into six.

After overcoming the weather, angry wasps, and bridge after bridge after bridge, we saw a light at the end of the bog bridge filled tunnel. Naughton and Noah put the last two bridges in while Blakely and I went off to clean up the trail. This mostly involved lugging gigantic, old, waterlogged logs off the path. We finished up around eleven am, with a total of 108 bog bridges built in less than a week and mostly by four people (sorry Max and Brendan). We set up a video to commemorate the final touch on the portage trail. And that is the long explanation for the joyous antics you see in our video.