The Kawuneeche Crew’s last week with the special projects crew was highly productive and bittersweet. Monday we finished everything at the Lil’ Buckaroo Barn, and hauled out all of the tools and scaffolding, closing the doors and boarding up the windows for winter. On Tuesday, Jenna and I went over Trail Ridge Road to the Kaley Cottages project, putting up cedar shingle siding and weaving them on the corners. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to see the end of that project, but luckily we did get to see the finished barn, as well as the Mess Hall at Lake Irene, which the crew primed and painted on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Our fantastic projects crew supervisors, Bob and Chuck, gave us a pizza lunch on Wednesday too, and Geoff even joined us for painting. Over the course of the week, we used 10 gallons of primer and 20 gallons of Historic Dark Brown paint!
- Margaret Johnson (Kawuneeche Crew Leader)
This last week the Red Feather Crew started off by heading back to the North Lone Pine Trailhead. We cleared nine down trees that were left, as we did not have a cross cut on our first maintenance run up the trail. The crew was excited to finally get to use their cross cutting skills. Along with clearing down trees we cleared drains, put in check dams, and removed duff form the trail.
Later in the week we spent a day working on the Kill Pecker Trail. As we made our way up the trail, we cleared drains, bucked out four down trees, and put in a few check dams to help with trail erosion. Lastly on our way out, with the whole teams effort, we made a safer river crossing by adding a log to the already existing bridge.
On our last day in the field we went back to the Mount Margaret Trail. We widened and reinforced the first turnpike we made of the summer to allow for easier travel and to assure its durability through the next few seasons. After we hiked a few miles to clear a down tree near the summit of Mount Margaret. Later in the day we sharpened tools and cleaned the bunkhouse in preparation for our departure to Estes Park for final week.
- Tommy Egland (Red Feather Crew Leader)
For our final weekend on the west side, some of the Shadow Mountain Crew attempted to hike the local mountain of Grand Lake, Mt. Craig, located just up the East Inlet trail. After hiking for 7 hours, we decided to summit the unnamed peak just east of Mt. Craig instead. The bushwacking and ridge climbing was enough of an adventure that we decided Mt. Craig was for another time. After a 15-mile day of hiking we enjoyed some ice cream at our favorite snack shack in town!
The Shadow Mountain Crew wrapped up their summer building a turnpike on an urban trail that was adopted by a fellow citizen who bikes the trails almost every other day with his wife. These trails were very highly populated by mountain bikers. At the end of the day, Elias, MegEllen and Andy went to check out the project site for our last day. On our way out of the forest we smelt a fire burning, found the campsite where someone left an unattended fire burning and were able to save the day by putting it out! It was fun to act on it fast!
After we completed the turnpike, our supervisor graciously held a “box social” for our last night in town. Andy graciously hosted the 6 of us, our other two supervisors, Kendra and Cory for a party full of cheese, dough and all the toppings you could ever imagine! After we stuffed ourselves with pizza, we gave Cory one last goodbye, as we had to send him off for a fire. The next day it felt as though we were missing a huge part of our crew. It was unfortunate to not have Cory be there on our last day with the Forest Service because we formed great relationships with these guys! We want to give all three of them; Andy, Cory and Kendra a huge thank you for an awesome summer.
We were still able to have a blast building our very last buck and rail fencing up at East Elk Meadow. We finished our season with the same task that we had at the very beginning of the summer, and we were lucky enough to be in the same area as the first buck and rail fence that we built. We were able to Elk Meadow at the end of the day and were able to compare our early work to our most recent.
The summer is now coming to an end as we spend our last week in Estes with the rest of the crews. It is starting to feel a little surreal! This is shadow, thanks for reading all summer! Much love from the entire crew!
- MegEllen Kimmett (Shadow Mountain Crew Leader)
The previous week Boulder Crew spent camped beneath the southern facing cliffs of St. Vrain Mountain, just south of the park, in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. With packs stuffed to the point of exhaustion, and spare hands carrying tools they hiked up to the junction of the Buchanan Pass Trail and the St. Vrain Glacier Trail. After struggling with hanging eight days worth of food for eight people, and setting up a tarp for their “kitchen”, they crawled into their tents for the long week ahead.
The second day half of the crew found suitable trees to structure a new bridge to replace the dilapidated bundle of boards held together by a dog leash. The other half of the crew hiked back to Camp Dick and retrieved more tools and supplies. By the time both crews reunited in the afternoon, there were two logs almost ready to be moved to the bridge. The first night cook groups were established and everyone became familiar with backcountry foods, instant mashed potatoes, instant pasta, and instant rice.
The third day there was more prep work to do on the first two logs and the next two logs were felled. Near lunch logs were placed near the bridge and a rock sill was constructed to tie the first logs into. The second pair of logs was larger and required much more effort to prepare but the crew was rewarded with a maintenance run up to Red Deer Lake where our day ended and some went for a dip in the chilly water. While continuing on the second pair of logs the following morning, a sill was made for the center point of contact of the bridge with reclaimed pressure treated wood. The first pair of logs was tied in and shaped with an axe to be flush and level. On the southern side of the bridge a sill was made out of a square of logs. After notching the second air of larger logs to fit flush and level upon placement, the whole crew worked to move the behemoth logs into place with hand tools.
The next day some of the crew put finishing touches on the bridge and the other half of the crew worked their way up the St. Vrain Glacier Trail, trimming trees and brush and digging drains.
With the bridge finished there was time the sixth day to work up to tree line on the Buchannan pass trail. Near the top of the trail we encountered a jungle of willows at points. The pass provided quite the view, keeping the crew in high enough spirits to sing the whole way down the trail to camp.
The seventh day we built a rock pathway to the south end of the bridge and cleared the St. Vrain Mountain Trail of incredibly old trees. This must have been the most intense work day, with one group crosscutting most of the day and the other group hauling and placing huge rocks to keep hikers dry.
On our final day, not only of the hitch but of the season with the Forest Service, we scoped out the rest of the St. Vrain Glacier Trail and packed up and hiked out midday. Though we had less food than we had started with, we surely had more weight in tools to make up for it. Most of the crew hiked out the nearly six miles without stopping in hopes for a quality meal soon after. After some closing meetings with our Forest Service supervisors and a hasty unloading of the trucks we were taken out to dinner at the local pizza joint in Nederland, thus ending our awesome 8 day backcountry hitch.
- Andy Martin (Boulder Assistant Crew Leader of the Week)
For our last hitch, the Rawah Crew headed up the Rawah Trail to work in the Sandbar and Rawah Lakes area and up the Blue Lake trail to finish maintaining trail that was covered with snow earlier in the season. Since the Sandbar lakes is one of the more frequently visited areas in the Rawahs our focus was on removing illegal campsites (those within 200 feet of water or the trail). In addition to this we worked on maintaining trail. The first day we hiked 7.5 miles up the Rawah trail towards the lakes to set up our base camp. After setting up camp we headed up the trail towards Big Rainbow and Upper Sandbar Lakes. Once we got up to the lakes we worked on removing illegal fire rings, dispersing burnt rocks, removing trash, dispersing the ash and duffing the area. Between lakes we worked on dips and drains to help keep water from eroding the trail.
The second day we headed from camp back to the Rawah Trail towards Rawah Lakes number One and Two. We worked on dips and drains up to the lakes where we began to assess the campfire situation. We spent the day working on fire rings around the lakes and then packed up camp and headed down the Rawah Trail to do maintenance. We worked on dips and drains down the trail, focusing on areas that were heavily saturated with water.
The third day we hiked the Blue Lake Trail where we worked on maintaining 3 miles of trail that had previously been covered with snow earlier in the season. We worked up the trail the Blue Lake then headed off trail to Hang Lake where we looked for illegal fire rings. That wrapped up our backcountry hitches, after a few initial cloudy and rainy days on the Rawah Trail; we finished up with a beautiful day of work at Blue Lake.
— Des Otis (Rawah Assistant Crew Leader of the Week)
This week was the perfect bookend for the Estes Crew’s season. Monday we were back at Lilly Lake working on the handicap trail, and had quite a productive day, which set us up to finish the trail on Tuesday. This was the project that we began on our all crew work day during midweek, and am now finishing it after working on it with other volunteer groups throughout the second half of the season. The other large project we worked on this season was at Cow Creek with the Llamas. Wednesday, we finished up the log check project near the Cow Creek trail head. The llamas took a great load off of us as they hauled the many truck loads of rock and dirt up to our checks. Seeing these two projects to completion was satisfying and meaningful to us all. Thursday was a great last day, as we did a maintenance run beginning at the North Fork trail head, hiking to Lost Lake, a 17 mile day. Crunched for time, we pushed a fast pace, and made our last day with Dave and Matt awesome.
-Bryce Goldade (Estes Crew Leader)