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.

parika peak

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)

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