In the Field: Week 3 (Part Two)

This week, Wednesday was the new Monday for the Shadow Mountain Crew. We came back to work after a long weekend of exploring and getting sunburned, ready for the exciting projects that the week would bring!

On Wednesday, we headed up the Arapaho Pass Trail to cut fallen trees and complete basic trail maintenance. A few tricky and time-consuming tree cuts meant that we were unable to reach the majority of trail, but it was certainly a good start!

On Thursday, Corps Manager Geoff Elliot joined us for another day of cutting fallen trees off of the Knight Ridge Trail. This time, we had the exciting opportunity to get a boat ride across Lake Granby to our work site! Many thanks to the ANRA patrol personnel (and their boats) for getting us safely to work and back home again. We cut over 60 trees in total, but there are still at least 60 more trees left on this windswept trail! We really have our work cut out for us on the Knight Ridge.

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Heading across Lake Granby on Thursday morning.

One of this week’s highlights came on Friday, when we took a maintenance run to the section of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) that leads to the Devil’s Thumb, a rock formation on the Continental Divide. We improved drainage structures and cleared a couple of trees on the 4-mile trail before reaching the top at Devil’s Thumb Pass. We enjoyed great views of our district to the west and the Boulder district to the east, and even got to check up on some of the work completed by the 2015 Shadow Mountain Crew in an extensive project last season.

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Our scenic lunch spot en route to the Devil’s Thumb.

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View of the Devil’s Thumb, looking east toward Nederland and the Boulder Canyon.

On Saturday, we completed work on the East Shore Trail (on Shadow Mountain Lake) as part of a volunteer event with members of the Headwaters Trail Alliance (HTA) and the Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC). Our work mostly consisted of constructing a turnpike-like retaining wall structure in a muddy section of the trail. Between getting filthy and soaked in the mud and operating the demon-possessed motorized wheelbarrow, this proved to be demanding work, but we were happy with our progress by the end of day! With a few finishing touches and some time to dry out, the retaining wall should help visitors keep their kicks mud-free for years to come.

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Making progress on a retaining wall/turnpike on the East Shore Trail.

The Red Feather Crew was able to accomplish much last week with tackling some major drainage issues (photo #5 attached-Sabrina coordinating a trench near Lady Moon TH). We were able to work together and keep things interesting through all our hard work last week. The crew really grew as a team through it all!

 

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Sabrina finishes a drain on the Lady Moon Trail

We were able to close down about 200 ft of trail braiding (social trails), build 10 new drains, daylight 12 more, and move/cut 26 fallen pine trees this week. The trails that we covered were Lady Moon, Granite Ridge, Disappointment Falls, Elkhorn Creek, Molly Lake, Mt Maragaret, Frog Pond, and East Loop Dowdy.

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It was great to see so much wildlife-a mountain salamander, a few moose, and so many fields of Spring wildflowers.

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Crew leader of the week begins this next week. I, as well as most of the others in RMC, are excited to get their feet whet and see what being the acting crew leader is all about, and what the opportunity affords them to learn and grow!

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In The Field: Week 3

The Boulder Crew spent most of their week in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, working in the snow pack while enjoying beautiful 80 degree weather. It was pretty novel work for most of the crew members!

On Tuesday, the crew started their first work of the season in the high country above 11,000 ft.  Our focus on Tuesday revolved around clearing snow off the Mitchell Lake Trail to clarify the trail corridor.  The ultimate goal of this work was to assure that hikers do not attempt to skirt around the snow and create large areas of impact on social trails.  This work is particularly important given the high usage of the Brainard Lake Area and the fragility of the vegetation in this season of rapid snow melt.  The crew was able to take their lunch break at the beautiful Mitchell Lake and then begin to work up the trail towards Blue Lake in the afternoon. This environment provided a beautiful change of scenery and started off the week on a high note!

On Wednesday, Conservation Corps Manager Geoff Elliot joined the crew in the field as we undertook similar work on the Long Lake trail towards Lake Isabelle.  In addition to digging out the snow on trail, we also worked on some minor drainage work to direct the flow of snow melt off trail. Our work in the field on Wednesday concluded with a project at Lake Isabelle to clarify the trail on a large snow field with a stream running beneath it.  After taking in the stunning view of Lake Isabelle, we hiked out and returned to the work center to sharpen tools to prepare for the remainder of the week.

Thursday morning started with a much needed bit of maintenance work at our campground at Kelly Dahl.  Our Forest Service partners arrived with a truck to reposition our trailer to a more level area.  Cooking on our propane stoves in the trailer had been complicated thus far because the trailer sat at an uneven angle.   Thanks to the help of the Forest Service, we’re now able to cook on a level service for the rest of the season! After the up keep work in the campground, we returned to the Brainard Lake area to work on the Beaver Creek, Long Lake, and Jean Lunning Trails.  The crew split ways at the trail head so half could return to the Long Lake Trail and Jean Lunning Trail with a crosscut saw to clear out fallen trees blocking trail.  The other half of the crew worked up the Beaver Creek trail to work on drainage work and to undertake a larger project involving rehabilitating a broken retaining wall.  After pausing in the late afternoon to allow a lightning storm to pass over, the two groups reconvened and worked on drainage work together on the Beaver Creek Trail to end the day.

The crew split into two groups on Friday as well, with one group focusing on clearing down trees and snow off the Jean Lunning trail and the other crew continuing the work started the day before on the Beaver Creek trail.  After finishing up work on the trail, our week concluded with a separate project involving loading and transporting buck and rail fencing from the work center to the Camp Dick area.

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As a whole, the third week of work together provided the Boulder Crew a change of pace by undertaking a new type of conservation work in the beautiful high country of the Indian Peaks Wilderness.  The combination of beautiful mountain lakes and a new type of work will certainly make this week a highlight of the first half of our season!

– Tom Enright, Boulder Crew Leader

It’s week three and the Estes Crew is continuing to cover many miles of trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. We’re not even half way through our summer work and we’ve dug drains and brushed vegetation on 55 miles of trail. While it’s great to look back on all we’ve accomplished, we definitely feel the hard work in our legs and arms and feet. Fridays are always welcomed with open arms and a guarantee of sleeping past 6 am, finally.

This week, we covered a total of 39 miles of trail and had the opportunity to work alongside National Park Service employees each day. Monday took us to Flattop Mountain, which despite being flat offers spectacular views from the Front Range to Grand Lake. On Tuesday, we trekked 9 miles from Moraine Park to Fern Lake, Odessa Lake, and Bear Lake. Wednesday we worked with the Larimer County Conservation Corps on a maintenance run to Thunder Lake. At 12 miles, Wednesday was our biggest day yet. Along with getting to see the spectacular Thunder Lake, we were glad to have had the opportunity to work alongside another conservation corps with similar values and goals as the Rocky Mountain Conservancy. Finally, we ended our week with a light maintenance run on the Fern Lake trail.

As we approach the end of the first half of the summer, we are all starting to understand the importance of our work. It’s especially easy to see when we work in Rocky Mountain National Park, where 4 million people visited in 2015 and people are frequently asking what we’re doing and thank us for our work. The Rocky Mountain Conservancy attracts interns from all over the country and from all different outdoor experiences. We all come from different backgrounds, but when placed in the setting of the Rocky Mountains, it’s easy to gather around the idea that our work is meaningful and that these lands are worth conserving.

Well, as always, the workweek is tough, but that won’t stop us from hitting the trails this weekend! Who knows where our plans will take us but it will likely include a combination of hiking, climbing, and sleeping.

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Down from Flattop.jpgUs and some of the NPS crew making our way down from Flattop Mountain.

Hunter Odessa.jpgHunter hanging out at Odessa Lake during lunch break.

Ritzi.jpgRitzi making her way across a snowy pass

Hunter Handy.jpgHunter admiring his handy drain work on the Fern Lake trail

Jesse Odessa.jpgJesse on the Odessa Lake trail

Thunder Lunder.jpgA very serious group photo at Thunder Lake

– Miranda Thompson, Estes Crew Leader
This week the Kawuneeche Crew would like to begin by taking a moment to dedicate this blog to our French press. Since most of our jobs require little to no hike in, we have the luxury of not worrying about the weight of our packs. So we carry in our French press and make ourselves some fresh cups of Joe on break or at lunch to keep us fired up and working hard on our projects. Thank you, French press.

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The French Press

Moving on to what we completed this week; Monday, Geoff came to visit us and helped as we finished painting the outside of the comfort station at Timber Creek Campground. Throughout the day, we were able to put on two coats of paint and finish that project.

On Tuesday, we hung sheets of OSB on the inside of the comfort station. Figuring out angles for our cuts to match the ceiling proved to be challenging at first, but after a little reminder of middle school mathematics, we found our groove and got the sheets hung properly. Hanging these sets us up to hang FRP board next week, which is a fiberglass material that can be hosed off if it needs cleaning. This allows for easy cleaning of the bathroom.

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Wednesday was a lot of prep work for painting the inside of the comfort station: we replaced some plywood sheets that we had removed earlier to take out windows, we replaced the trim around the windows, and cleaned the walls. We set up tarps and sorted through our gear so everything was organized and easy to move once we started painting.

On Thursday, we began by painting inside the comfort station. We used an epoxy paint that required us to mix two different cans of paint that activate the epoxy. After careful mixing, we were able to spend the morning putting on the first coat. While we waited for the paint to dry, we went back to the little buckaroo barn and set the nails we used to put in the windows. We used a tool called a ‘nailset’ that sets the nails deep into the wood so we can later cover them up. After doing that we went back to the comfort station and finished up our second coat of paint. The comfort station is getting close to completion!

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Dominic enjoying his cup of joe while jokingly commanding his crew members.

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– Dominic Rickicki, Kawuneeche Crew Leader

After three weeks of car camping  and couch surfing, the Rawah Crew finally made it to their designated workstation at Stub Creek. Excited but exhausted, the crew hit the hay early upon arrival in preparation for their first day of work in the Rawah Wilderness. McIntyre Trail was first on their list.

With rolling terrain and a creek side view, McIntyre proved to be a beautiful yet challenging introduction to back country trail restoration. Their leader cycled each member through their first cross cut use on trail. In the meantime, clogged dips and drains were restored and crew members solidified their familiarity with trail maintenance. By the end of their first day, the Rawah crew cleared over four miles of trail that was scheduled to take them two days to complete.

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Crew member, Sam, admires the cross cut.

Cross Cut teamwork.jpgCrew members, Gus and Garret, master their cross cut skills.

With their routine already set in stone, the crew immediately began work on their next task: Link Trail. The ambitious bunch hiked five miles in, then worked back down the trail. By Wednesday afternoon the crew removed 76 trees and cleared over 95 drains, completing their work on the Link trail, yet again, ahead of schedule. That evening, they trucked on over to the Rawah Trail for some more maintenance work.

Mosquitos and Lunch.jpgThe crew enjoys lunch and the mosquitos enjoy theirs – not so pleasant.=

The Rawah Trail posed much less trees early on, as the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers seemed to have already handled the task. There were, however, an ample amount of grade dips and drains that kept the crew busy through Thursday morning. The final afternoon of this week’s work was spent on a gnarly section of corroded tread about three miles up the trail. A braided path of erosion defied most of the previously installed drainage structures. Shaded under an aspen grove, the crew began to reroute drainage by installing a series of massive rock bars. New tread has been planned and this project will surely meet completion early on next week.

– Sam Ruhala and Garret Fox, Rawah Wilderness Crew Members

 

In the Field: Week 2

This week proved to be a productive week for the Boulder Crew both on and off the trail.  After enjoying a four-day weekend, the crew got right into trail work on Tuesday morning at the heavily-used Ceran St. Vrain Trail.   The entirety of the Ceran St. Vrain Trail follows the river, providing the crew with a beautiful work environment.  Tuesday involved adding numerous new drainage structures to the first few miles of trail.  Beyond honing our skills in the art of digging effective and sustainable drains, we also were able to practice some new skills, such as the removal and rehabilitation of illegal fire pits.  On Wednesday, we returned to Ceran St. Vrain to once again go over the drainage structures dug on Tuesday to critique and improve upon them.  Beyond the standard focus on drainage, Wednesday’s work on the trail also included rehabilitation of illegal fire rings and brushing and limbing vegetation along the trail.

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On Thursday, the crew began their day with a trip down the canyon to the Boulder Ranger District Office to participate in the monthly district meeting.  The meeting afforded the crew the opportunity to learn more about the organizational structure of the US Forest Service and the current concerns and goals of the district.  After spending the morning in the meeting, the crew drove  back and began work for the afternoon on the Buchanan Pass Trail, where we had worked on extensively last week.  Given the abbreviated day in the field, the crew focused only on digging drainage structures on the next mile and a half of trail for the afternoon.

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The week closed out on a high note as we undertook work on the Forsythe Canyon Trail. Much like the Ceran St. Vrain Trail, this trail follows water and provides a very peaceful atmosphere.  The trail required the installation of many new dips and drains, as well as some extensive brushing and rehabilitation of large illegal fire rings.  After finishing up work on the trail a little early, the crew returned to the work center to do a little cleaning of the work trucks and public areas at the work center.

Off the trail, the crew has been enjoying our space at Kelly Dahl Campground more and more. Our spacious alcove now feels like home as we add new touches to our space for our enjoyment like hammocks, solar showers, and stumps around the fire.  We’ve established a meal and dishes routine as well for our nightly group dinners.  On Wednesday, we cooked brats over the fire—a tasty meal with minimal dishes! All in all, the Boulder crew enjoyed another week of work and recreation in the beautiful natural areas of the Boulder region!

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– Tom Enright, Boulder Crew Leader

 

It’s the second week of trail work for the Estes Crew, and we’ve begun covering a lot of miles in the park. On Monday and Tuesday, we worked on the Deer Mountain Trail, clearing brush and digging drains on 3 miles of trail. On Wednesday, we worked along the extremely popular Fern Lake trail, clearing 2 miles. This allowed us to talk to many hikers, including Conservancy members, about the trail work we were doing in the park. Working on popular trails can make the work crowded, but it’s so rewarding when people are interested in what we’re doing and thank us for our work. Finally, we ended the week with an amazing trail run up the North Longs Peak trail. The trail had a lot of uphill and it was a hot day, but we all kept good attitudes as we adjusted to altitude and hiking with heavy packs and tools. I am a firm believer that every hike is worth it when the destination offers a view. The North Longs trail did not disappoint in this manner and our lunch spot on the tundra offered a panorama view of Longs Peak, the Mummy Range, and many other peaks in the park.

We’re becoming more and more comfortable going on trail maintenance runs, but there is still so much to learn. We’ve been learning new skills daily. A trail maintenance run consists of digging drains to prevent water from eroding the trail, cutting back vegetation to open up the trail corridor, and using a crosscut saw to remove large fallen trees.

As always, a hard week at work calls for a fun and adventurous weekend. Crew members got out on the trails this weekend and hiked to Blue Lake in the Never Summer Wilderness and Sky Pond in RMNP. It’s impossible to be bored out here and we can’t get enough of these mountains.

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Our lunch spot from the North Longs trail.

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Our group that hiked to Sky Pond

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Glissading down from Sky Pond

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Lunch from the summit of Deer Mountain

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Jesse and Jessa with brushing tools on the Deer Mountain Trail

– Miranda Thompson,  Estes Crew Leader

 

This week the Kawuneechee Crew started off on a high note: we finished the roof at the Timbercreek Campground by the end of the day on Monday. This allowed for us to move onto other projects within the comfort station. We removed all of the windows, framed the inside walls, and put in a new support where the inside concrete wall needed to be removed. These many small jobs took us through the rest of the week until Thursday when we started painting the outside. We were able to complete two coats on one side of the building. It looks like we will be painting the rest of it throughout next week.

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National Park Service staff and crew members complete the roof on Monday.

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The completed roof at the Timbercreek Campground comfort station!

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Another view of the completed roof

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Adam works to paint the comfort station at Timbercreek Campground

Along with the work we did at the comfort station, we also worked on other projects around the park. On Monday, a couple of us went back to Lake Irene to work on the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) Mess hall by continuing to chink logs. On Thursday, we hiked to the little buckaroo barn near the Bowen Gulch Trail and put in new windows. This building is an old historic site from the ranches that used to exist in this area.

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Adam replaces a window at the Little Buckaroo Barn

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Rachel helps replace a window at the Little Buckaroo Barn

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A view of the Little Buckaroo Barn

After another successful week, we look forward to completing more projects. This next week looks like a lot of painting at the comfort station and possibly more progress on the Lake Irene CCC Mess Hall.

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Crew member and leaders enjoy their weekend with a hike in the Never Summers

– Dominic Rickicki, Kawuneeche Crew Leader

 

This week, the Shadow Mountain Crew started out with crosscut saw training led by our district’s Rec Planner, Miles Miller. We spent one day in the classroom learning about saw technique and history, followed by a day in the field on the Knight Ridge Trail. We had hoped to spend most of the day crosscutting, but ran into more trees outside the Indian Peaks Wilderness boundary than we expected, which meant that we spent much of the morning assisting with the removal of those trees with chainsaws.

The Knight Ridge Trail was the focus of a large clearing project in the summer of 2015 that was performed in part by last year’s Shadow Mountain Crew. We knew that this year there would be fewer trees down, but since the trail is in an area exposed to high winds, there were still plenty of trees to clear. As part of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, the Knight Ridge is an important section to keep open for the many through hikers that come through the area each summer.

The rest of our week was spent on maintenance runs on the Cascade Creek Trail (a popular trail out of the Monarch Lake Trailhead) and the Strawberry Lake Trail. We also were able to start taking out our pack llama, Jed, out for walks so he will be strong enough to carry equipment for us soon!

After a 5-day week of work, we are enjoying a long weekend of hiking, spending time with visiting family, and road-tripping to Great Sand Dunes National Park. Next week, we look forward to more maintenance runs and preparing for our first backcountry hitch!

Cross Cut.jpgToby looks on while John and Ash get some crosscut saw practice on the Knight Ridge Trail.

Abigail.jpgAbigail looks out over Lake Granby from the Knight Ridge.

Strawberry.jpgShadow Crew members take a relaxing lunch break on Strawberry Lake, looking towards the Indian Peaks.

John & Llama Jed.jpgJohn poses with Llama Jed on the Cascade Creek Trail.

Crew members and more on Knight Ridge.jpgSCA crew members Jake and Ariana, Forest Service employee Lauren, and Shadow Crew members John, Ash, Amy, and Toby pose with the Indian Peaks on the Knight Ridge Trail.

– Amy Sullivan, Shadow Mountain Crew Leader

 

This week, Rawah and Red Feather Crew morale was good and a lot was accomplished. It was extremely hot, but 3-6L of fluids were consumed by every crew member daily: an incredible feat! We build 0.2 miles of trail from scratch and fixed, widened, or improved another 0.2 miles of trail in Young Gulch. This was a cool experience for all to see trail from start of flagging to finished product. We also were reminded how to respect nature. We got rattled at and warned by six Western Diamonback Rattlesnakes either on the trail or just to the side near where we were working!

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Using the GPS App ‘Strava’, I mapped what our work looks like now and annotated it. We are 0.4 miles in, with 2.25 miles to go to the halfway point, when one half of the trail will reopen, and work will commence from the other side of the trail until the trails join. USFS employee, Kevin Cannon, has mapped and flagged the proposed trail route using GPS. You can clearly see the drastic route change from the old Young Gulch Trail. Circled in blue are turns that will be constructed next weekend by the ‘turn crew’. In black is a bridge and horse crossing coming in this Fall. In pink is the trail that we built from scratch (removing vegetation, rocks, leveling trail, building 3 retaining walls of rock, 6 check steps, widening previously initiated trail sections, and correctly backsloping).

All-in-all, it was a good week and lots of progress was made.

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Crew members Sam and Kyrie work on outsloping the tread surface on first switchback.

20160615_135552_HDR.jpgRosa Carolina identified on the side of the trail. Spring is a great time in the mountains.

– Grant Crist, Red Feather Lakes Crew Leader

 

Happy Friday!

I wanted to share a few things I discovered this week with the followers of this blog and anyone else who comes across it. First off, I was informed that a Rocky Mountain Conservancy – Conservation Corps alum published a paper last year through the University of Montana about the Rocky Mountain Conservancy. The paper was her undergraduate thesis and it talks about making a connection between environmental restoration and stewardship and the role this Conservation Corps plays in connecting those dots. I have linked the paper below, as I think it is a good read and worth a look:

Linking Environmental Restoration and Stewardship in Colorado: Learning from the Rocky Mountain Conservancy

Additionally, I came across a video from The White House featuring President Obama. It addresses his relationship with and belief about the importance of National Parks. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:

Enjoy your weekend! Remember to get out there and play in YOUR public lands!

In the Field: Week 1

The Rawah and Red Feather crews spent this week being trained by their Forest Service supervisors and getting a feel for the trails they will be working this season. Monday started with reviewing basic trail maintenance techniques and tool safety. For the second half of the day the crews headed to the Lone Pine Trail to scout work projects for later in the week. Tuesday the crews returned to Lone Pine to get in some practice with their supervisor and one of the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers. We practiced building waterbars, clearing the trail corridor cleaning out dips and drains and cutting out small trees from the trail. Wednesday the crews went through their crosscut saw training and received their certifications as sawyers at the end of the day. With training and certifications completed, Thursday, the crews headed to the Big South Trail to work on their recently learned skills. The crews maintained two miles of trail, drained a flooded fifty-foot section of trail, and maintained twenty-eight water bars. After a week of training the crews are excited to get into the field and start working on some trails. Next week both the Rawah and Red Feather crews will be working at the Young Gulch trail doing project work with some other volunteers. Stay tuned for updates!

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Forest Service supervisor Chris Klingbeil teaches crosscut training

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Red Feather crew member Arin works on a downed tree in the trial

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Rawah Crew member Sam handsaws a downed tree with the Poudre Wilderness volunteer

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Rawah and Red Feather crew members go over approaching a cut

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Rawah crew members Kyrie and Eeland get some practice time with the saw

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Rawah crew member Eeland feeling pretty good about his first cut

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Crew members work on draining flooded sections of trail

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Rawah and Red Feather Crews wearing their carhartts for Carhartt Tuesday

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Rawah crew leader Des works on the flooded section of trail

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Eeland catches fish for a group dinner of fish tacos

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On off time Rawah crew member Eeland teaches Sam fly fishing techniques

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During lunch Rawah members Des and Gus plan for the up coming weekend

-Des Otis, Rawah Crew Leader

After participating in a volunteer orientation at the Boulder Ranger District Office on Saturday of last week, the Boulder Crew jumped right into trail work with the Forest Service on Monday morning.

The crew focused its work on the Buchanan Pass Trail along the Middle Saint Vrain Creek this week.  Trail work commenced Monday morning with a few short demonstrations regarding safe use of tools and the fundamentals of maintaining drainage structures on trail.  With that basic orientation, the crew members tried their hands at digging drainage structures on trail in pairs at first and later on their own.  In the afternoon, we then hiked back to critique and improve upon the drains they had already dug that morning.  All in all, the work on Monday afforded the opportunity to enjoy some time on trail together while learning how to recognize drainage issues on trail and then mitigate those problems with quality trail maintenance techniques.

The crew encountered an unexpected delay and team building activity on Tuesday morning when a truck got a flat tire on the way to work.  After working together to change the tire, we returned to Buchanan Pass Trail to continue the drainage work remaining on trail and to implement newly learned maintenance techniques such as brushing.  By early Wednesday morning, the crew had completed basic maintenance on the first section of the trail and then turned its attention to a project adding more retainers and dirt to an overly steep ramp after a boardwalk.  Crew members dug borrow pits to collect dirt, collected smaller rocks to be added to stabilize the tread on the ramp, found and transported large (and heavy) rocks to be used as stepping stones at the end of the ramp, and skinned the logs to be added as extra retainers and railings along the boardwalk.  It was quite the project!

Thursday’s work focused on finishing up the project we had done all the prep work for on Wednesday and working up trail to continue maintenance and to remove roots on trail that presented tripping hazards.  By the end of the day, the ramp project was complete and the crew could appreciate the fruits of their labor!

As a whole, this first week of trail work exposed the crew to a variety of techniques they will be using for the remainder of the summer.  The skills learned this week will continue to be honed and expanded upon as the crew tackles a new trails and projects in the coming weeks.  Off the trail, the crew has made our campsite at Kelly Dahl Campground home.  We have a large tarp for rain cover, a picnic table, a fire pit, a trailer equipped with a stove and plenty of room for storage, and many other amenities at our disposal; we’re certainly living large for living in tents for the summer (the view of the sunsets over the mountains certainly makes the site a little sweeter too)!  With one week of living and working together under our belts, we’re all looking forward to the weeks to come enjoying one another’s company and the beauty of the mountains!

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The Ramp (Before)

 

 

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Hailey and Milda stand proudly over the ramp after completing the rehab.

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Dalton working to remove roots for the trail.

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Gustavo skinning a log for the ramp

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Dalton tamping down new tread on the ramp.

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The Boulder Crew was challenged by a flat tire on the way to work this week.

-Tom Enright, Boulder Crew Leader

The first week of trail work has come and gone for the Estes Crew. The verdict is that our legs are a little sore, but we’re no less stoked to enjoy the mountains on our days off. It doesn’t take long to realize the beauty of the mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park and the adventures that are possible among them.

This week we received Search and Rescue training from NPS employees and additional trainings from other departments such as Natural Resources and Cultural Resources. These trainings allow us to be more aware of what we can do to keep Rocky a safe and functioning park. We ended the week with maintenance runs to Deer Mountain and Sandbeach Lake, for a total of 10 miles maintained. So far we’ve been clearing drains to help prevent erosion by water on the trails. Trail work, along with the semi-truck full of hay bales we unloaded for the mule and horse pack teams, left our muscles sore but that didn’t stop our crew from heading out to the trails this weekend.

As a crew leader, it feels great to see my crew getting along so well even though we’ve only known each other two weeks. It makes me so happy to see them excited about trail work and excited about playing a role in the conservation of our public lands. As a crew we are beyond excited to keep working hard on the trails and getting out to hike, run, and climb on the weekends here in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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-Miranda Thompson, Estes Crew Leader

One week down in the Kawuneechee Valley and our crew wasted no time! Day one involved a few brief introductions before we all headed up to Lake Irene to shovel the snow out from around a CCC Mess hall located right off of the parking lot. This mess hall helped feed CCC workers during the construction of trail ridge road, but has seen little use since that time. Last summers crew was able to redo the roof with new cedar shingles, which still look great after a winter at 10,000 ft. This summer our crew will be continuing their work by chinking (a caulk like substance used to seal logs on a log cabin) between the logs of the mess hall, to help prevent rodents.

On Tuesday we went to an all crew training on the east side of Rocky, where we learned about safety, wildlife, invasive species, and other important topics for our summer in the park.

Wednesday we began restoration work on a comfort station at Timber Creek campground. We began by tearing off all the old shingles on the roof and removing old bathroom fixtures from the work site. After this our supervisors taught us the ins and outs of cedar shingle placement and we began laying down the new roof. After a few mistakes and some “aha” moments we found our groove and started laying down shingles with speed.

Thursday, half of the crew began work on the roof again while the other half went back up to Lake Irene to chink. We were able to chink a good portion of the parking lot side of the building, but the work is slow and precise so many more days will be spent here. The other half of the crew made good progress on the roof and it looks like we are about halfway done! Hopefully next week sees the completion of this project as we move on to more restoration jobs throughout the park!

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Dominic, Kawuneeche Crew Leader, cuts shingles to size.

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Rachel, Kawuneeche Crew Member, sorts through shingles to find the right size.

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Adam, Kawuneeche crew member,nails down some shingles at Timber Creek campground.

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Dax, Kawuneeche crew member, applies a fresh layer of chink to the CCC mess hall.

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Dax uses the magnet to pull nails off the roof after removing the shingles.

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Tatyana, Kawuneeche crew member, pulls nails out of the roof to prepare for new shingles.

-Dominic Rickicki, Kawuneeche Crew Leader

The Shadow Mountain Crew started out the week by moving into our housing for the summer in the Shadow Mountain Village and Work Center, near Grand Lake.

Having lived in Moraine Park Campground for training week, this move was much anticipated. After some cleaning and paperwork with the housing manager, we were able to settle in to our two 1940s era houses, which have already started to feel like home!

Our first week with the Sulphur Ranger District of the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest has been a good exercise in flexibility. Our previously scheduled crosscut saw training was postponed, but this meant that we were able to dig right in and get some maintenance runs in on the Doe Creek Trail, the Roaring Fork Trail, and the Cascade Creek Trail. Much of our work this week was done with a Student Conservation Association (SCA) crew that will be patrolling in the wilderness on our district this summer.

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Amy and Forest Service employee Lauren buck out a downed tree on the Cascade Creek Trail in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

 

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John and SCA crew member Jake get some crosscut saw practice in on the Roaring Fork Trail in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

In addition to our first maintenance runs, we’ve also spent time loading our crew truck with tools, learning about tool sharpening and other tool maintenance, and attending a district-wide safety meeting. As part of the Non-Motorized Trail Crew (NMTC), we work with Forest Service employees Kendra and Lauren, who, along with the members of our crew with trail work experience, have been helping to get everyone up to speed on the techniques and tools of trail construction and maintenance.

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Ashley models our crew truck before we load it up with shovels, picks, Pulaskis, hoes, hammers, and plenty of other trail tools that we’ll be using this season!

 

When we’re not working, we’ve been able to spend time with the nearby Kawuneeche crew, even winning a round of trivia at a local restaurant! We love our fire pit in the backyard and convenient access to canoes for paddling on Shadow Mountain Lake. We’ve made many wildlife sightings in the Shadow Mountain Village, including pelicans, osprey, moose, and even a coyote.

Next week, we’ll be back at it with more maintenance runs and crosscut saw training!

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The Shadow Crew (Ashley, John, Toby, Izzy, Amy, and Abigail) celebrates the National Park Service Centennial on our way over Trail Ridge Road to get to our housing and work area.

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When not performing excellent trail work, Izzy and Abigail enjoy sleeping in their hammocks.

-Amy Sullivan, Shadow Mountain Crew Leader

 

 

 

 

 

National Trails Day Photo Gallery

As you may have read in the previous post, the Conservancy hosted its second annual National Trails Day volunteer project and picnic this past weekend to celebrate the trails of RMNP and give back to their ongoing sustainability. With over 50 volunteers, the event helped Rocky Mountain National Park install 30 check steps, resurface 300 feet of trail, and decommission 50 feet of social trails on the heavily used stock trails around Moraine Park Campground. Check out the photos from the day below!

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Crew Members Arrive…and depart

It’s been a busy week of training, orientation, and educational activities here in Estes and now the crews are venturing off to there bunkhouses, work centers and campsites. Now we can recap the activities that prepped the crews for their field work.

The week started off with crew members arriving to Moraine Park and settling in for the week. The morning started out with ice-breakers and a game of ninja to get the crews up and moving. After logistics, paperwork and gear distribution the crews met individually to establish group expectations and goals.

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Crew members start the morning with icebreakers

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Crew Leaders Amy and Tom square off in a game of ninja (Amy emerged victories)

Afterwards the crew leaders led training on Leave No Trace, back country essentials, tool safety and environmental hazards. Training was followed with a relay designed to test crew members on what they had learned, they had to pack a backpack, set up a bear hang, light a whisperlite, answer Ten Essential and LNT trivia and finish as a group in lightning position.

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Kawuneechee crew leader Dominic teaches his crew how to use a whisperlite

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Boulder Crew leader Tom teaches the crews about tool safety.

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Crew members finishing the first task of the relay

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On to the second task of setting up a bear hang

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Crews finishing the relay in lighting position

Leader training was followed by a trip to the Warming House for boot fittings.

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Members of the Estes Crew Hunter and Ben getting fitted for boots at the Warming House

Wednesday started off with an educational program on the History of Rocky Mountain National Park led by local historian Jim Pickering. For this, the crews got out into the field to explore the makings of RMNP. After a quick lunch break the crews had Trails 101 training led by the Park Service to help understand trail design, tools, and safety.

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Volunteer Trails Lead, Jesse, provide some background on trail maintenance, construction, and safety to the crews.

Thursday consisted of First Aid and CPR Training for crew members, while those who were already trained, headed to the Park to work on a trails project and prepare for National Trails Day on Saturday.

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Amy, Tom, and John situate a rock for a check step.

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Education Director, Rachel Balduzzi, leads a First Aid and CPR training for crew members.

On Friday the crews participated in Defensive Driver Training led by the Forest Service. Members of the Boulder Crew departed to their campsite to set up and prepare for the Indian Peaks Wilderness Alliance training  on Saturday.

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The Boulder Crew’s new home in Kelly Dahl Campground

National Trails day marked the culmination of training week for the crews as they headed out into the Park to work with Conservancy Members on trails in Moraine Park Campground. By the end of the day, the volunteers had installed 30 steps, resurfaced 300 feet of trail, and decommissioned over 50 feet of braided social trails to restore native habitat. The trails day ended with a great picnic and some s’mores by the campfire.

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Conservancy members ready for our National Trails Day volunteer project.

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Field Institute Assistant, Jo Wurst, smashes rock to help resurface eroded trail.

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Will and Ben move rocks to create a retaining wall for trail tread.

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Amy winds up to crush small rocks while back-filling newly installed check steps.

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Dom, Eeland, and a Conservancy member work to place “gargoyles” on braided trail to encourage people to stay on trail.

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Nearly completed resurfaced trail tread!

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Conservancy members, staff, Conservation Corps crews enjoy a National Trails Day picnic with Rocky’s trail crew to finish off the day.

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With over 50 volunteers the Conservancy’s National Trails Day project was a huge success!

Now the crews are off to do field work with their agencies and will be sending posts updating on projects and trails!

-Des Otis Rawah Crew Leader