The Great Twin Reroute Controversy of 2019

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via ferrata

DEC via ferrata from below

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Until the middle of 2019, the trail from Pecoy Notch to the northern summit of Twin Mountain included a difficult rock ledge that required a semi-technical lift. The lift itself depended on a single tree root as a handhold. It was super fun. It epitomized the ruggedness and difficulty of the Devil’s Path.

Then, during the summer, a rock-slide tore the area apart.

After the collapse, the challenge of climbing this section became fully technical. To climb this section, you always needed steady nerves — but now, in addition, you needed rock climbing skills. Effectively, the route became impassable, and quite dangerous, even to experienced hikers. Someone was going to get hurt there. It was only a matter of time.

The entire area is currently cordoned off. Here’s what it looks like today…

rock cliff
Old route after the rock slide

Two Solutions

At first, the DEC addressed the problem by adding a via ferrata, a set of iron rungs. The idea was to keep the old way open with a ladder that needed little, if any, maintenance.

It looked like this…

via ferrata
DEC via ferrata from below

But this first solution blew up in a major way among the Very Online People who became Extremely Angry on Facebook. Heads on platters were demanded. Careers were threatened. Talks were had.

And the drama spilled over into the real world when a very dedicated vandal began secretly sawing the rungs off the mountain. Yes, you read that correctly.

By the time I got there in mid-September, at least one of the rungs had already been sawn off. You can see one pair of metal nubs above the highest rung in this photo…

via ferrata
DEC via ferrata from above

Iron rungs like this are a common sight on hiking trails in many parts of the world. However, in the USA, at least on the east coast, wooden ladders are the usual solution at exceptionally tricky spots.

Many people felt that the DEC’s iron rungs were a deep insult to the Devil’s Path and to the entire east coast. A few hotheads felt that if a hiker couldn’t handle this dangerous area, they should stay off this section of trail altogether.

Meanwhile, over the coming weeks, the vandal continued, secretly, to remove most of the remaining rungs.

Eventually, the DEC closed this trail section and spent several weeks building a new route around the problem area, which they then re-opened in November.

A Great End Result

The new route takes a sharp right turn and climbs a few stone steps which have been laid down at the start of a dramatic, shattered cliff face.

Devil’s Path
Entering the re-route
rock outcropping
The reroute
Rock face with moss
Rock and moss, just the best

A second set of stone steps then leads up to a tricky lift. From there, once again, you’re on your own…

stone steps
Rerouted with steps

The reroute is wonderful, and completely in character with what had come before. It’s beautifully done. If you’d like to check it out, here’s the route my daughter and I took: Hike Twin from Roaring Kill.

Your comments are welcome here…

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