In the Field: Week 6 (Part Two)

Last week, the Estes Crew unanimously decided that this summer has flown by. It’s been an amazing season already and this past week of hiking, camping, working, and cooking group dinners has brought our crew even closer. Now, we realize that it’s time to make the best of this internship and the time we have left as Estes Crew. With only two weeks of work left, we are left to reflect on the amazing experiences we’ve already had and figuring out exactly how we’re going to fit in all the other hiking goals, fishing experiences, and traveling before the season’s end.

The 6th week of work for the Estes Crew was kicked off by a backpacking trip that was adventurous to say the least, then followed by a week that presented new and unfamiliar projects with the trails crew. We were challenged with making group decisions in the wilderness and then gain when we had to tackle building a culvert at Lily Lake for work. The rainy and difficult backpacking trip to Mt. Ida and Upper Forest Canyon could have potentially left our crew with low morale, but instead we worked on making decisions as a group. And feeding off of each other’s positive energy. Since we were able to strengthen our crew through the trip, we were able to take on the Lily Lake culvert, which was a type of project we were all unfamiliar with. All in all, I’m so proud of how Estes Crew performed this week and I can’t wait to see how our next week goes when we’ll be back working with Natural Resources.

Beginning to set the culvert at Lily Lake

Beginning to set the culvert at Lily Lake

Working as a team using rock bars to move logs

Working as a team using rock bars to move logs

Andrea, Chandler, and Matthew from NPS working on providing material to retread the trail.

Andrea, Chandler, and Matthew from NPS working on providing material to retread the trail.

– Miranda Thompson (Estes Assistant Crew Leader of the Week)

Last week The Red Feather Crew was once again back in the Estes Park area working with the Forest Service on the North Fork Trail that was effected by the 2013 floods. This time we working on finishing the end of the re-route we were working on before mid week. This entailed days of building rock walls to provide stability for the trail and to try and prevent another washout from completely taking out the trail again. As a crew we built 40 feet of trail that included putting in the rock walls and moving a lot of dirt to make the trail ready to be hiked on.

Another project that we got to work on early in the week was building a whole new section of trail that turned out to be around 35 yard of new tread. This was a fun experience for everyone because we were able to work on seeing a tangible difference in the trail and it only took a half a day.  This entailed lots of sledge hammering rocks and moving a lot of dirt.

For the last couple days of work we worked from the actual trail head and worked on building more retaining walls and a gabion. A gabion is something that is usually used for retaining walls on roads, but we were building this so that the trail will not completely wash away if another flood hits the area. For this we needed to cut out and flatten a 25 foot section of trail and build this rock catch and throw thousands of pounds of rocks to keep the structure stable in hopes of providing stability for years to come.

Thats all for now,

Red Feather

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In the Field: Week 6 (Part One)

This week the Rawah Crew went out on another 4-day hitch, working part of the Link, Medicine Bow and McIntyre Creek trails. We had over 15 miles of trail to cover so our main priorities were clearing the downed trees from the trail corridor, major drains and defining the trail corridor. The Medicine Bow Trail is pretty lightly used; therefore some sections of the trail were grown over completely. We retreaded a 150+ ft. section of trail that was covered up and made finding a stream crossing quite difficult. We also spent time marking the trail by constructing cairns (stacks of rocks) through marshy and densely forested sections to help guide hikers through some rough sections of the trail. These areas of the Rawah Wilderness have some sections with quite a lot of beetle kill and therefore there was a lot of work to be done clearing trees. Along the way we cleared close to 50 downed or hazard trees, 20 on the Link Trail and upwards of 30 on the Medicine Bow Trail.

On our last day, we made our way up into the alpine on the Medicine Bow Trail and were rewarded with some magnificent views of the Rawahs, Medicine Bows, and other ranges in southern Wyoming. With the Medicine Bow Trail recieving little traffic, the trail was not apparent. The crew followed cairns marking the trail up over the ridge of the Medicine Bow Mountains battling 50 mph winds (with otherwise beautiful and sunny weather), to meet up with the McIntyre Creek trail. We removed a few trees from the trail and cleared drains on the 4.8 mile stretch and finally met up with the Lower McIntyre Trail (cleared early on in the season). After hiking the final stretch back to the trailhead, we had put in an tiring 12 mile day.

With the Rawah Wilderness and trail system being so remote, we usually don’t have any prior knowledge of trail conditions when going into a project. Therefore, priorities may change quite a bit from the original intentions. Once we began in on Link and Medicine Bow trails, we realized that there was a lot of work that was needed with trail corridor clearing (trees) and work defining the trail in some areas and had to shift our project focus.

Before the new tread work

Before the new tread work

Completed new tread

Completed new tread

The Rawah Crew atop the Medicine Bow Trail.

The Rawah Crew atop the Medicine Bow Trail.

– Brian Eachus (Rawah Assistant Crew Leader of the Week)

The Kawuneeche Crew completed one half of the Little Buckaroo Barn roof this week, using new tools and asphalt shingles, giving the barn a polished silver gleam. With one side completed, we disassembled and reassembled the scaffolding in the opposite side of the barn. After half a day of demo, the second side of the barn is bald and ready for new tar paper and shingles! We also removed the rotted rafter tails and fitted new ones into their places, ready for epoxy assemblage next week. Now experienced roofers and good restorationists, our work is going a lot faster and more fun! Throughout the week the a few of the crew members reported to the east side of RMNP to help the Special Projects division reside one of the cottages in Moraine Park alongside NPS professionals from all over the country participating in the PAST Program, a training program to certify NPS staff as historic preservationists. Lastly, Geoff joined us for a day of work and got to help the first half being finished, and joined us for crew dinner of Logan’s venison burgers. Yum!

Replacing rafter tails on Little Buckaroo Barn

Replacing rafter tails on Little Buckaroo Barn

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First side completed!

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Onto the second side!

– Margaret Johnson (Kawuneeche Crew Leader)

This was another exciting week for the Boulder Crew. We spent Tuesday working on the Bright trail, a flood damaged trail alongside the North St. Vrain creek. We installed drains and and cut back the trail corridor. On Wednesday we drove and hiked to the Bright Trail extension, where we logged out downed trees and installed drains. On Thursday we returned to the Bright Trail and finished installing drains that we didn’t reach on Tuesday. Finally, on Friday, we returned to the Buchanan Pass Trail where we spent the first three weeks of our season. After inspecting the bridge and turnpike that we built, we hiked further along the trail and cleaned drains. We then returned to the work center and began to prepare for our 8 day bridge building backcountry project, which begins on Tuesday. It’s been a great week and we are super excited to spend some time living and working in the wilderness over the next two weeks!

Annie on the Bright Trail

Annie on the Bright Trail

– Reid Grinspoon (Boulder Crew Leader)

This week, the Shadow Mountain Crew had a break from being backcountry and spent the week doing maintenance runs around the Monarch Lake region.

On the first day of the work week, the whole crew and three members of the Forest Service set off on an unmarked trail to Strawberry Lake. The goal was to dig drainage dips  to maintain the trail and help prevent erosion. The crew stopped for a short snack break at the beautiful Strawberry Lake. This lake is surrounded by fragile marsh and is highly impacted by hiking traffic. The group then split, with half of its members continuing down Strawberry Bench trail, and the other half heading down Doe Creek Trail. These trails are not designated wilderness, so the crew got an opportunity to observe their Forest Service coworkers using chainsaws, rather than crosscut saws, to clear tress. This sure made the trail clearing process much quicker and noisier! Towards the end of Doe Creek Trail, the Shadow Crew encountered some peculiar live animal traps set to capture a missing poodle named Jax.

The next day the Shadow Mountain Crew split in half once again to cover more ground on the High Lonesome Trail. Combining efforts, the two groups were able to dig dips and clear trees off over 20 miles of trail.

Geoff accompanied the Shadow Crew to work the next day to restore the highly eroded Wolverine Bypass Trail. Geoff taught the crew how to construct check dams on especially steep sections of trail using large rocks. The crew spent a good portion of the day transporting heavy rocks to the trail in order to slow the flow of water down the trail.

After such a busy work week, the Shadow Mountain Crew was excited to stop at the local Kum and Go to celebrate the unofficial tradition known as “f’real friday”. The crew got their milkshakes and filled up on gas, then headed back to the Shadow Mountain Village for a relaxing weekend.

Clearing trees on the High Lonesome Trail

Clearing trees on the High Lonesome Trail

Enjoying a snack on the Wolverine Trail

Enjoying a snack on the Wolverine Trail

Installing check dams on teh Wolverine Bypass Trail

Installing check dams on the Wolverine Bypass Trail

– Rachel Dorencz (Assistant Crew Leader of the Week)

In the Field: Week 5 (Park Two)

The Rawah Crew spent the entire week in the backcountry servicing some of the areas more remote trails. On Monday morning we hiked 4 miles to the junction of West Branch Trail and Rawah Trail, where we set up our base camp for the week. From this central location we were able to maintain the Twin Crater Lakes Trail, the southern section of the Rawah Trail to the top of Grassy Pass, and the West Branch Trail up to Carey Lake.

In there own ways, Twin Crater Lakes, Grassy Pass, and Carey Lake are all some of the more stunning destination hikes in the Rawah Wilderness area. Each day of hard work was rewarded with breathtaking views of pristine tundra, stark peaks, and glassy mountain lakes. On Monday and Wednesday, the days we worked to Twin Crater Lakes and Carey Lake, respectively, we electing to bring our dinner and cook stove with us so we could enjoy our meals near the calm waters.

Most downed trees in the area had already been cleared by other area volunteers so this week we were able focus more intensely on tread work. For the 10 + miles of trail we serviced we spent a lot of the time clearing sediment out of existing drains, installing new drains, and repairing older drains that were particularly damaged. We also took on several small projects the included installing stepping-stones across muddy sections, rehabilitating illegal campfire sites, and diverting water from flooding the trail. In several instances, crew members were also able to chat with hikers and backpackers about choosing LNT appropriate campsites.

It was a great week!

Johnny watches a herd of bighorn sheep from across a meadow

Johnny watches a herd of bighorn sheep from across a meadow

Courtney pumps water from a precarious perch

Courtney pumps water from a precarious perch

The crew hiking off of Grassy Pass as ominous clouds roll in

The crew hiking off of Grassy Pass as ominous clouds roll in

– Gus Waneka (Rawah Assistant Crew Leader of the Week)

In the Field: Week 5 (Part One)

After Education Week, the crews are right back in the field, hard at work, preserving and conserving the natural resources of Northern Colorado. Check out the updates below from each crew’s week!

This week, the Estes Crew worked with the National Park Service revegetation crew at Tuxedo Park on Bear Lake road. After the construction of a shuttle us stop, there was a large disturbed area. On Monday, we pulled all of the cheat grass and pennycress, both invasive species, from the area and laid down a layer of good soil. We then planted plants such as rose bushes, shrubby cinqfoils, yarrow and a variety of native grasses. On Tuesday, we worked with a group of volunteers from Costa Rica, who were here because Rocky Mountain National Park and Sana Elana Cloud Forest, where they are from, share many migratory bird species. It was interesting to learn about their culture and how our ecosystems in our respective parts of the world share many similarities and differences.

On Thursday, Geoff came to help us plant for half the day, then attended a Round Table discussion for the Natural Resources division with us. The discussion was about shifting paradigms and seeing things from a different perspective. It was interesting to see the viewpoints on career advancement and conservation from a variety of people with a wide range of experience working in Rocky Mountain National Park. Overall, it was a fantastic week and we aided in planting 4,668 plants at Tuxedo Park.

Andrea giving some young visitors a hands-on lesson in restoration

Andrea giving some young visitors a hands-on lesson in restoration

Jeremy teaching the crew and NPS staff about edible and medicinal plants

Jeremy teaching the crew and NPS staff about edible and medicinal plants

The crew working as a team to plant native plants

The crew working as a team to plant native plants

-Bryce Goldade (Estes Crew Leader)

It was a busy week for the Kawuneeche Crew, we finished the roof of the mess hall at lake Irene, and moved on down the valley to the Little Buckaroo Barn. There is a lot to do there, but we’re starting with laying out tar paper and plywood on the roof, which is installed before placing the asphalt shingles. We also replaced some of the rotten siding boards with new ones and reset the original siding boards we had removed when repairing the rafter tails earlier. With the lower roof’s rafter tails finished, we moved to the upper roof and took off the first layer of sheeting board and upper siding to saw off the rafter tails. We then cut and measured new tails and prepared them to be drilled into the existing rafter base. Joe, Dhante and Margaret got to start using their respirators and super suits at the barn this week as well, spraying a bleach solution over the hay loft and the ground floor to neutralize the hantavirus that could be lurking there. Overall, a few more splinters, a few more mosquito bites, and a lot more work completed this week!

The crew in their PPE for the Little Buckaroo Barn

The crew in their PPE for the Little Buckaroo Barn

Nearly finished with the roof at Lake Irene

Nearly finished with the roof at Lake Irene

– Margaret Johnson (Kawuneeche Crew Leader)

This last week of work was quite the doozy with the Red Feather Crew hiking nearly 40 miles in 4 days. Everyone thought it was a nice change of pace though as we got to stop building turnpikes and start some trail maintainance.
On Monday and Thesday we worked on the North Lone Pine trail doing general maintainance run while also putting in 15 new drains and a few check dams. We also were able to cut some trees out of the trail cause with a single buck saw.
On Wednesday we found ourselves working in the Swamp Creek trail. This is a multi use trail which saw its most action from motorcyclists. On this trail we spent the majority of our time clearing corridor as well as cutting logs that were too close to the trail and lining basically the whole thing. We also put in another 10 drains and did a good job of clearing out several very wet areas that are now dry and will be much easier to hike and ride in.
On Thursday, we went back to Lady Moon. This time not to build a turnpike, but to hike the trail and do some drain clearing. This entailed us to build a large drain system that was around 30 feet long diverting the trail, which had become basically a creek, to a meadow with the help of the long drain and an awesome rock bar. We hiked out to Disappointment Falls and turned around from there and continued to do tread work and make sure there was a defined path at necessary points through the meadow.

Untill next time,
The Red Feather Crew

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Using the pulaski to clear out a downed tree

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Cortney problem solving on trail

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John and Maggie working through some drainage issues

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-Tommy Egland (Red Feather Crew Leader)

A week in the life of the Boulder Crew:

Life continues to be simple and charmed in the small town of Nederland. This week we found ourselves clearing a snowshoe trail, which had been completely covered in blown down trees. This took hours of hauling and meticulous teamwork, as we tried to navigate jagged branches. We also had the opportunity to sit in on a USFS district meeting, where we were welcomed as “the trail crew”. Our other work days were spent installing trail signs on newly created trails. Overall, another excellent week that brought us even closer together as a crew.

The most exciting part of our week was moving into the USFS bunkhouse. While it was slightly bitter to be leaving our campsite, it is absolutely sweet to have running water and the ability to watch movies and use an oven. We look forward to the closeness these quarters will inevitably bring.

Chivi swaping through a burn down in Brainard Lake area

Chivi swaping through a burn down in Brainard Lake area

Reid pulasking out a stump to clear corridor

Reid pulasking out a stump to clear corridor

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Clearing drains on Long Lake trail

– Annie Makuch (Boulder Crew Member)

This week the Shadow Mountain Crew worked in the backcountry with eight Forest Service employees from the Wilderness and OHV trail crews to build a turnpike near Columbine Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The crew started the week by attending the district meeting for the Sulphur Ranger District. At the meeting they discussed safety in the field and budgeting for the 2016 field season, and the RMC-CC crew even got a shout out for their work on the Knight Ridge Trail! After the meeting the crew left for the Columbine Lake trailhead and spent most of the day packing in camp and tools for the turnpike project. The next morning was spent building new trail for a small reroute and rehabbing the old trail. Once the reroute was completed the crew got to work on the turnpike. The project got underway by falling a few trees with crosscuts and cutting them into sections for the sides of the turnpike. The turnpike was divided into sections in order to allow continued natural flow of water through the meadow where it was built. Once the trees were debarked and put into place with log carriers the crew spent most of the next two days gathering rock to fill the walkway of the turnpike. Jed and Henry, the crews llamas, were a great help all week, but they were especially helpful in hauling rock to the turnpike from the rock quarry about 400 yards away. The final turnpike turned out great, and its construction was definitely appreciated by a lot of hikers on this busy trail. It was a hard week of work for the Shadow Crew, but they still found the time and energy to enjoy themselves once the workday was finished. At camp the crew had good times playing whiffle ball and frisbee, and on the last night they took an alternate route to Columbine Lake and hiked up a couloir near their work site. It was cold and rainy at the lake, but it didn’t stop Elias from taking a quick dip! Now its time for a nice long four day weekend to rest up and have some fun in Grand Lake. This is Shadow, until next time!

The meadow area before the turnpike

The meadow area before the turnpike

The crew working its way up the couloir to Columbine Lake

The crew working its way up the couloir to Columbine Lake

Nearly completed turnpike!

Nearly completed turnpike!

The Shadow Mountain Crew enjoying the help of Jed and Henry

The Shadow Mountain Crew enjoying the help of Jed and Henry

– Blake Crossland (Shadow Mountain Crew Member)

Education Week

This past week all of the crews returned to Estes Park for Education Week. During this week, the Rocky Mountain Conservancy – Conservation Corps joins together for an all-crew work project in Rocky Mountain National Park, participates in educational programming, and meets with the Program Manager to touch base on the progress of the season and look forward to what is to come. I’ll be honest we didn’t take too many photos this week because the weather made it an effort just to be outside for most of the week, but here is our recap!

On Sunday all of the crews returned to the Moraine Park Campground to set up camp and prepare for the week.

Monday morning the crews were granted a little later start than usual and met with Dave from the NPS trails division to complete a work project at Lily Lake. The Crews worked to retread a section of the accessible trail headed towards one of the few wedding sites in RMNP. The weather was relentless all day; however, the crews moved over 30 cubic yards of dirt in under six hours while fitting in a few games of ninja during the breaks.

Installing a log to line the trail

Installing a log to line the trail

Shuttling material back and forth

Shuttling material back and forth

For part of the trail we were able;e to use the truck to move material

For part of the trail we were able to use the truck to move material

Tamping down the new material with the plate compactor

Tamping down the new material with the plate compactor

Crushing rock to make the logs fit

Crushing rock to make the logs fit

A lunchtime game of ninja

A lunchtime game of ninja

Traffic during the trail project

Traffic during the trail project

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Tuesday was a split day for the crews. Half of the folks spent the morning with Rocky Mountain Conservancy’s Education Director, Rachel Balduzzi, exploring career opportunities with the National Park Service on a Behind the Scenes Tour, while the other half enjoyed a morning of mid-season review and evaluation. After enjoying a pizza lunch on us, the crews switched places for the afternoon. Stay tuned for updates on the evaluations!

Wednesday and Thursday the crews got to spend the day in the field taking educational courses related to the cultural and natural history of Rocky Mountain National Park. On each day the crew members and leaders had a choice of three.

On Wednesday, the crews could participate in:

Longs Peak Up Close: An overview of the history of Longs Peak, mountaineering in RMNP, and the wildflowers of the region. (Instructors: Walt and Marlene Borneman)

History of Stewardship in RMNP: A philosophical overview of how environmental ethics have evolved over the years from indigenous users of the land to modern day. (Instructor: Geoff Elliot)

Wildflowers of RMNP: An exploration through various areas in RMNP to discover what wildflowers you can find and how to identify them. ( Instructor: Kathy Brazelton, East District Naturalist at RMNP)

Thursday’s options were:

Birds without Borders: A field study of the migratory birds moving between RMNP and Monte Verde, Costa Rica with some Costa Rican students and professionals visiting for the week. (Instructor: Jeff Connor)

When Ice Ruled the Park: A journey up a glacially carved valley to see who different geologic forces moved and shaped the earth to create RMNP’s landscape. (Instructor: Vince Matthews)

Top of the World Tour: An exploration of the unique alpine tundra ecosystem to learn about all of its flora and fauna, along with the issues in managing it. (Instructor: Cynthia Langguth, Alpine Visitor Center Supervisor)

Shadow Mountain Crew Leader, MegEllen Kimmett, with Interpretive Ranger, Cynthia exploring the wildflowers of the tundra.

Shadow Mountain Crew Leader, MegEllen Kimmett, with Interpretive Ranger, Cynthia exploring the wildflowers of the tundra.

In the Field: Week 4 (Part Two)

The Boulder Crew finished up the boardwalk that we started last week on the Buchanan Pass Trail. The next day we went to Brainard Lake and created a new trail that helps minimize visitor impact on the wilderness. The crew had a lot of fun learning about what went into creating a new trail. The next two days were spent doing maintenance around Mitchell Lake. A stunning view of the mountains made it feel like we weren’t even at work.

On our days off the crew had a blast hiking James Peak, the 13,300 foot mountain that we see everyday from our campsite. We spent the Fourth of July in Nederland, a charming mountain town. Watching fireworks over a lake and mountains was an amazing way to celebrate together. Everyone is really psyched for mid-week where we’ll be back in Rocky Mountain National Park!

Finishing up work on the boardwalk

Finishing up work on the boardwalk

The log base for the boardwalk

The log base for the boardwalk

Andy lining up boards on the boardwalk

Andy lining up boards on the boardwalk

Chivy beginning the anchor work

Chivy beginning the anchor work

Dana enjoying lunch on the tundra

Dana enjoying lunch on the tundra

– Dana Chafetz (Boulder Crew Member)

This past week, Jordan and Rachel, accompanied by a member of the U.S. Forest Service, started a four day back country excursion at Junco Trailhead and ventured up to Columbine Lake to scout out a future project. From there, they ascended Caribou Pass to complete an 18.8 mile loop down to Caribou Lake and followed Arapaho Creek out to the Monarch Lake Trailhead. Over the course of the trek, the group dug approximately 45 drains and cross cut 50 trees. They overcame bugs, snow, and rain to patrol the Indian Peaks Wilderness during the busy Fourth of July weekend.

Jordan and Rachel enjoying the view

Jordan and Rachel enjoying the view

Descending from the ridge

Descending from the ridge

Rachel and Jordan with USFS supervisor Kendra in the Indian Peaks Wilderness

Rachel and Jordan with USFS supervisor Kendra in the Indian Peaks Wilderness

– Jordan and Rachel (Shadow Mountain Crew Members)

On Fourth of July weekend, MegEllen and Elias, led by Corey Kohen of the Sulphur Ranger District non motorized trail crew, set out on their patrol through the Never Summer Wilderness. The patrol began at the Bowen trailhead and looped around to the Baker trailhead. The Bowen/Baker loop is high priority for the SRD because it is the most popular portion of trail in the Never Summer Wilderness. For this reason, the primary objective of the patrol was originally making public contacts over the holiday weekend. It is extremely important to educate the public about their impacts on the land, for example; camping near the lake was prohibited and our duty was to scatter tempting fire pits. The secondary objective, clearing trees, turned out to be underestimated. MegEllen, Elias and Corey cleared a total of 99 trees from the trail, far more than were originally expected. Public contacts were made as well, but ended up being a lesser priority. The patrol was a success; the entire trail of 19 miles was clear of fallen trees. Apart from the satisfaction that a fulfilling week of work brings, something must be said for the beauty of the Never Summer Range. By the end of the patrol the trail crew had visited three lakes, each more beautiful than the last. Our final night was spent just below Parika Lake, a beautiful oasis above the tree line.

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MegEllen atop Parika Peak

MegEllen atop Parika Peak

Elias helping repair a backcountry bridge with USFS supervisor Cory

Elias helping repair a backcountry bridge with USFS supervisor Corey

Elias on Bowen Pass

Elias on Bowen Pass

-Elias Baer (Shadow Mountain Crew Member)

This week, Amy and Blake accompanied Forest Protection Officer Andy Borek on a backcountry patrol in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Starting out at the Monarch Lake trailhead, they headed up the Cascade Creek Trail, clearing downed trees and digging drainages along the way. This trail is one of the most popular in the Sulphur Ranger District, so they came across many hikers enjoying a beautiful Fourth of July weekend! The purpose of this trip was not only to clear trails, but also to make contact with the public and enforce wilderness policy.

After spending the first night about a mile up the Buchanan Pass Trail, the crew headed northeast to check out a recent avalanche zone near the junction with the Gourd Lake Trail. Then, they turned back towards the Cascade Creek Trail and cleared trail up towards Crater Lake.

On the way, they stopped at Cascade Falls and made multiple public contacts, checking backcountry camping permits and making sure hikers were keeping their dogs on leashes. They then spent the night at Crater Lake, which is one of the most beautiful areas to camp in the district, which also makes it one of the most heavily trafficked backcountry sites.

The next day, the crew spent the Fourth of July on a day trip to clear trail towards Pawnee Lake on the Pawnee Pass Trail. This area attracts hikers from both the east and west sides of the divide. Just past the lake, they encountered a 28 inch tree across the trail, which required three cuts and took the rest of the afternoon to clear. The crew also had to ask a group of campers to relocate their site away from a riparian zone along the shore of Pawnee Lake. A large thunderstorm made for a damp hike back to camp at Crater Lake, where they made it back just in time for it to start hailing.

On the last day, Andy, Blake, and Amy packed up camp and hiked out via the Cascade Creek Trail, disassembling illegal campfire rings along the way in order to mitigate damage along the heavily used trail. They also completed some regular trail maintenance on the way down.

This Fourth of July backcountry hitch was successful in improving sections of multiple trails in the Cascade Creek area and encouraging the public to recreate responsibly in the Indian Peaks Wilderness!

Amy and Blake clearing out a downed tree

Amy and Blake clearing out a downed tree

Amy and Blake with USFS supervisor Andy in the Indian Peaks Wilderness

Amy and Blake with USFS supervisor Andy in the Indian Peaks Wilderness

– Blake and Amy (Shadow Mountain Crew Member)

In the Field: Week 4 (Part One)

The Rawah Crew had a week full of problem solving and new projects. On Sunday, we went out on the Roaring Creek trail expecting to camp out for a night about 3 miles in. Unexpectedly, the small flat area that was our only option for camping did not meet LNT guidelines being too close to the trail and water. We found a fire ring in the middle of a meadow so Des taught the crew how to tear it down, sift through dirt for micro-trash and rehab the area. We decided to hike out at the end of our day, and return the next when Geoff had planned to join us for work. Together, we completed three rock wall projects, a total of about 30 ft placed to prevent further erosion of the steep trail.

The next two days were spent on the upper portion of the McIntyre Trail where we ran into some pretty beat up sections. The McIntyre Trail is heavily used by horse travelers seeking to reach the Continental Divide at Ute Pass. With at least 700 ft of muddy sections in need of turnpikes and 300 ft of washed out/rooted tread we were unable to complete large projects, given we were only on a two day hitch and were not aware of it’s rough condition. We decided that a general maintenance run would suffice for now (clearing trees/drains and removing berm) but we would hopefully return to the trail later in the season, or next summer’s Rawah crew would be able to return to the project sites. Left with some time at the end of our hitch, we started a 20 ft rock wall section, re-establishing 60 ft of widened, muddy trail.

Fire ring before

Fire ring before

Fire ring after

Fire ring after

Rock wall on Roaring Creek Trail

Rock wall on Roaring Creek Trail

Rock wall on Upper McIntyre

Rock wall on Upper McIntyre

-Courtney Ross (Rawah Crew Leader)

Monday, Wednesday and Thursday brought the Kawuneeche Crew back up to the mess hall at Lake Irene, where we were able to finish 3/4 of the roof with hand-laid cedar shingles. In roofer’s terms, the roof is a little less than 12 squares (one square=100 square feet). In layman’s terms, it’s a pretty medium sized roof for a 3 room building, and the light purple chalk lines complement the orange tinged shingles quite nicely. Tuesday the crew drove over Trail Ridge into Estes Park to join the projects crew and the buildings maintenance crew for a scaffolding training, useful information for when we have to set up the second half of our scaffolding on the barn! Thursday was also a half day for the NPS, so the crew were sent on a hike for the afternoon, up to gorgeous Milner Pass. A great way to start the holiday weekend! Happy Fourth of July from the Kawuneeche crew!

– Margaret Johnson (Kawuneeche Crew Leader)

Continuing work with the Rocky Mountain National Park Trail’s crews, the Estes Crew began this week with trail maintenance runs around the Park. By this time in the season, the populated trails have already been completed, leaving this week to improve and explore the Park’s nooks and crannies. They completed over 14 miles of trail work including North Longs Trail and Hollowell Park.

The remainder of the week was dedicated to projects. Building the bridge at Boulder Brook was an insightful experience to share. Almost all of the bridge materials are gathered on site. Logs that once clogged the trail were cut and debarked. Boulders for the rock wall are collected from the river bank. Among the many miles and hard work, the Estes Crew is learning about land ethics.

Jeremy brushing

Jeremy brushing

Estes near Alberta Falls

Estes near Alberta Falls

Doing our best not to get lost

Doing our best not to get lost

Chandler showing the rock who's boss

Chandler showing the rock who’s boss

Teaming up to move a rock at Boulder Brook Landslide

Teaming up to move a rock at Boulder Brook Landslide

– Chandler Eaton (Estes Crew Member)

Teamwork. The larger the project, the more teamwork is needed. This past week the Red Feather Crew collaborated with the Forest Service and the Larimer County Conservation Corps on the North Fork Trail. This was different from the past few weeks because instead of just the six of us there were now 15 in the project. This was necessary for the massive re-route that was going to be under taken.

The re-route was intended as a method of flood relief, as the trail has been closed for two years now. The goal was to re direct the Big Thompson river away from where the edge of the new trail would be and then re-establish a trail for this popular hiking area.

In order to perform this rocks and fallen trees were pushed along the river, this was necessary to move the river to a safe area for people as well as the trail. Once this has been achieved, a retaining wall was developed that turned out to be around 12 feet. To insure stability of the wall, we made sure there was no organic, or loose materials around the trail. With collective efforts we were able to finally cut out the new trail that would be as to be used by other people and stock alike.

This was a huge project and without the collaboration of the LCCC, RMC-CC, and the Forest Service we would not be able to have triumphed over the North Fork trail re-route.

Cutting back the eroded bank to expand flood plain

Cutting back the eroded bank to expand flood plain

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Crew working with Geoff to manage safety while removing the bank

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Knocking out the overhanging slope

Blown out section of the North Fork Trail

Blown out section of the North Fork Trail

May the force be with you all,
Red Feather