The Road Less Traveled . . .

FS9 (Forest Service Rd. 9), aka Deer Hill Rd. or to the locals, "Government Rd."  It leads from Evergreen Valley to Evans Notch.  It's only open to motorized vehicles in summertime.  In winter it's used by dog-sledders and snowmobiles.  But hikers can use it year-round.

FS9 (Forest Service Rd. 9), aka Deer Hill Rd. or to the locals, “Government Rd.” It leads from Evergreen Valley to Evans Notch. It’s only open to motorized vehicles in summertime. In winter it’s used by dog-sledders and snowmobiles. But hikers can use it year-round.

Roads in Maine take a lot of punishment.

The unpaved, rural dirt roads bring up a lot of dust when a car passes by.  It’s almost pointless to wash one’s car because every time you traverse a dirt road, it will be coated with a new layer of shmutz.

In winter, snows and ice pile up, and snow plows get busy, but the constant scraping of the plow blade and the corrosive effect of salt and sand (to remove ice and improve traction) wear the asphalt prematurely where the roads are paved, and remove a crucial layer of gravel on those roads that are unpaved, making them vulnerable to deep erosion.

When it finally warms up in Spring, relief is still not in sight.  The difference in temperature creates frost heaves and pot holes and smooth asphalt roads become humpy, bumpy and broken, and one is in real danger of ruining the suspension on one’s car.

When rural towns collect property taxes, the money goes for a few things:  maintenance of  (usually) ancient fire engines and ambulances run by volunteer fire and rescue departments;  small stipends for local libraries; and funding bus service taking children to local public schools (rural kids may have to travel an hour each way on a daily basis).  But by far the majority of the Town budget goes to road maintenance:  plowing, sanding, salting, clearing, repairing, and filling potholes.   Because the tax base is not large, road repair on less traveled streets is often not done in a timely manner (understatement!) due to budgetary concerns.

Today while walking on a seasonal road that has not yet been re-opened to motorized vehicles,  we came across this sight:  someone had removed a tree that had fallen across the road and was blocking it, by propping it up and balancing it with a fallen 12′ tree limb, thereby forming a sort of dramatic framed entranceway.

Road maintenance, Maine-style.  Wicked elegant . . . while it lasts.

A close-up of the precariously propped-up tree framing the road.

A close-up of the precariously propped-up tree framing the road.

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