Fort Fairfield Lean To Work Trip March 2024

The Fort Fairfield Lean-to was built in 1998. Situated above Pattee Brook and 100 feet from the US/Canadian border, it has a truly unique location on the IAT. While in remarkable good shape for a 25-year-old structure with one side open to the elements, northern Maine’s freeze and thaw cycles have slowly swallowed the original stone and cinderblock foundation. Now, the lean-to’s cedar sills sit directly on the ground – not a good situation! To remedy this, the Maine IAT trail crew has a spring work trip planned to jack up the lean-to, replace any rotted sills and place new cinderblocks on top of the old.

This past week, trail crew members Julia Daly and Bill Duffy began the process by sledding six cinderblocks the mile or so from the nearest road access to the lean-to. Bill arrived late Tuesday afternoon to check out the snow situation on the Sam Everett Road. What he found was grim – the first half mile of the access road had only patchy snow that was melting quickly in 40-degree weather. Bill quickly decided to sled in two blocks before even more snow melted.

After a brief chat with a US Border Patrol agent, who showed up just as Bill was donning his harness, the trek began. It was, as they say, tough sledding – uphill, zigzagging from patch to patch of snow with long stretches of rocky gravel in between. Luckily, once the road reached the US/Canada border slash, the snow-cover improved, making the final half-mile much easier.

The next day, Julia met Bill in Fort Fairfield at 7:30 am. Their hope was the early morning frost might make the sledding a bit easier. It did, but not by much! There was little conversation as the two pulled their sleds uphill on the mostly bare road with occasional snow and ice patches. However, once again, the snow conditions and sledding along the border slash were much better and the crew stopped for obligatory photos with a US/Canada border monument.

After unloading their blocks and taking photos and measurements to help plan the repairs, the crew headed back to their cars and parted ways – Julia heading to Fort Kent to visit with her daughter and Bill heading south on the 7½ hour drive back to New Hampshire.

If you’d like to join the Maine IAT work crew to help with lean-to repairs (tentatively scheduled for June 6-8) or to help with trail clearing on other dates, please sign up here.

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