In The Field: Week 7 (Part One)

This week the Rawah Crew went into to the backcountry of the Rawah Wilderness. Our mission was to work on the Rawah and Sandbar Lakes Trails. With towering mountains, clear blue lakes, and the occasional moose, it was the perfect place to camp and work for the week.

Monday started with a seven mile hike in. We set up camp in between Camp Lake Trail and the Rawah Trail. After setting up a bear hang and filtering water, we began our first journey. We started on the Sandbar Lakes Trail and after digging a few drains, we came upon a tree with a diameter greater than 36 inches! After some hard work and a few cuts, the tree was finally able to be removed. At the top of the trail we were lucky enough to observe a moose peacefully resting in the grass.

On Tuesday, we started up the Rawah Trail and worked on the loop by the breathtaking Grassy Pass. This day was filled with brush removal that was blocking the trail, and the repair of dips and drains, with a beautiful backdrop of the Rawah Lakes.

Meadow- Rawah.jpg A meadow surrounded by mountains in the Rawah Wilderness

Wednesday was filled with more dips and drains and illegal campfire ring removal. With the help of Geoff, who came up to join us for the day, the day was packed full. Campfire ring removal starts with the rocks around the ring are first dispersed to the surrounding area. Then the ash is sifted through for trash to be hauled out. After the ash is clean, it is also dispersed and the ring is covered with surrounding dirt to promote re-growth. After some rumbling thunder we made if back to our base camp for a dinner of burritos with fresh caught fish from the Rawah Lakes!

Geoff and Crew.jpgGeoff Elliot, and crew members Eeland Stripling and Sam Ruhaloa working and an illegal campfire ring

On Thursday, Rawah crew started working on the rest of the trail heading toward the trailhead. After base camp was packed and not a trace was left, we headed out. After filling the day with cutting trees and digging dips and drains, the crew was ready for a hot meal and a warm shower.

Crew Member Garrett Fox.jpgCrew members Garret Fox and Eeland Stripling enjoying a quick break before setting out to Grassy Pass

Rawah View.jpgThe Rawah crew enjoying the view

 

Gus.jpgCrew member Gus Anderson working on the foundation for a check step

– Kyrie McCullough, Rawah Crew Leader of the Week

So far this season the Kawuneeche Crew has accomplished more work then was originally planned. Therefore, this past week, the Kawuneeche Crew was split up into two different crews to better allocate the work we were doing. Dax, Tatyana and I were on the west side for most of the week wrapping up work on the comfort station. Dominick, Rachel and Adam finished an old project up and started a new project on the East side by the Fall River Entrance Station.

 

On Monday, the east side crew finished a project that the RMNP Project Crew had been working on earlier in the season: reopening a comfort station and replacing old tables and bear boxes in Aspenglen Campground. Dom, Rachel, and Adam made quick work of shoveling and wheel barreling ten thousand pounds of crusher into a chase between comfort station rooms. To finish of their day, they setup the scaffolding around a building that they would be shingling in the morning. On the west side, Tatyana worked on paining the new doors that were installed. Because they were brand new, they required a lot of paint to get an even coat. On the inside of the comfort station, Dax and I began putting the final wood molding up that would cover all of the gaps from earlier work and give a beautiful real wood grain look the the insides.

Rachel scaffolding.jpgCrew member Rachel Gathering some of the scaffolding frame

 

Tuesday for the west side was just about the same as Monday- more paining and more framing. Dax and I finished the inside molding and began working on the exterior molding that needed to be replaced and then painted. The interior of the comfort station looks so much different then it has for the past seven weeks. The real wood is fitting for this comfort station because its in the Timber Creek campground. Due to pine beetle infestations on the west side the entire campground had to be clear cut because the dead trees were far too dangerous to the visitors of the campground. I felt that the wood (I believe it is pine) being put into the comfort station is almost symbolic of the recovering pine forest in the campground.

Wood Framing.jpgFinished wood framing around all of the new windows

 

Both crews got a lot of work done on Wednesday. On the east side, they managed to remove the old shingles on one side and get the new ones up by the end of the day. On the west side, Dax and I finished the exterior trim work and finished reinstalling the old comfort station barriers in one room. We also put in new larger mirrors in one of the rooms. Tatyana finished the exterior painting and put caulking around all of the mounted fixtures in the comfort station.

James Roof.jpgOne of our bosses James looking over the east side crews work as they near the top of the roof

 

On Thursday Tatyana went over to the east side and helped Geoff out at the Field Institute. She went through all of the photos from the season so far and selected the ones for the end of the year poster. Dax and I finished installing all of the mirrors and dividers on both of the rooms and did a lot of cleanup before lunch. At this point, the only things that needs to be done are putting the door handles on and completing the plumbing, which is almost complete. One of our bosses, Bob, decided to show his appreciation for the work we completed this summer buy buying us all pizza for lunch on the east side. The other side of the roof was also stripped and shingled entirely that day. It had been one great work week for the Kawuneeche Crew. Hopefully the last week will be even better!

 

Dom, Ad, and Rac.jpgleft to right: Dominick, Adam and Rachel near completion of the other side of the roof.

 

Dax & John.jpgDax and I putting the last few screws in the room dividers. John, project boss, in the background.

– William Fazio, Kawuneeche Crew Leader of the Week

It’s hard to believe it, but there is only one week of work left in our Conservancy summer. There’s a sense of urgency in planning for the weekends. We’re constantly wondering how we’re supposed to fit in all of the possible adventures with so little time. Our free time is being filled to the brim with climbing, hiking fourteeners, backpacking, and just soaking up the scenery around us. Lucky for us, the workdays can be filled with just as much adventure and awe-inspiring scenes as our weekend trips.

This week, the Estes Crew once again had the opportunity to work with the Resources Division of Rocky Mountain National Park. We spent our week working with the Restoration Crew, who works to plant and seed land where the natural vegetation has been destroyed. One of their big projects this year is restoring land that was upturned during a water line project through some of the main campsites in the park. In the area that we worked on every day this week, a total of 8,300 plants were required to restore the area. That’s a lot of plants, and we were glad to have played a huge role in helping the restoration crew complete their project goals. The plants we planted included a number of grass species, goldenrod, sage, and cinquefoil along with native tree species such as lodgepole pine and Engelmann spruce.

Necessary Tools.jpgAll of the necessary tools for planting native vegetation on a restoration site.

Plant Lodgepoles.jpgCrew members Jessa (above) plants lodgepole pines in the Glacier Basin area of Rocky.

Ben restorationCrew member Ben plants just one of the 8,300 plants that have been planted to restore the Glacier Basin campground area.

– Miranda Thompson, Estes Park Crew Leader

This week has been a very productive one for the Shadow Crew. We set out on our second-to-last backcountry hitch on Tuesday (no llamas this time) to work on clearing trees and drainage maintenance. For our first day, we set up camp at the Forest Service’s Ptarmigan work center and started working on Darling Creek Trail. Fortunately for us, we were able to recruit one of our fellow forest service OHV crew members, Devon, to help us with clearing several large trees along the trail. With Devon leading the way with the chainsaw, Shadow crew members followed closely behind, digging drains and building new tread in ingrown areas.

Ute Pass Map.jpgAmy and John scope out the Ute Pass Map.

On Wednesday, the crew had to say their goodbye’s to Devon and continue on their own onto the very steep, Ute Pass Trail. With high hopes of matching the previous day’s work, we set out with cross cut saws and hoes in tow only to be disheartened by the intense elevation gain of the first few miles of the trail. We pushed on though, drain after drain, tree after tree, until it was time to find a campsite. But, what’s this? Abigail and John were nowhere to be found! Due to their quick lopping and drain building skills, they had gotten a few miles ahead of the rest of the crew. With daylight quickly diminishing, we pushed on in hopes to find our fellow crew members and still set up camp. After many steep inclines, the crew finally found them just in the nick of time – with an established campsite and water source! We ended the late work day at Elk Campsite and celebrated our thankfullness to have found John and Abigail with a ‘Thanksgiving feast’ of mashed potatoes, gravy, and stuffing thanks to Toby and Amy.

Moss-tache.jpgA little moss-tache mischief at lunch.

Thursday held a lot of problem solving for the cross-cutting dream team. We worked our way back down Ute Pass and then took the junction onto Ute Peak Trail to clear as much trail as possible. The crew has now proven that they are a well oiled tree cutting, drain building machine, and very few trees stand a chance against them and their saws. A mile away from the trailhead though, we thought we had met our match. Two connected monster trees measuring approximetly 25-30 inches in diameter looked us dead in the eyes with such ferocity that we weren’t sure if we could continue on. With Amy’s determination leading the group, we were able to tag-team the trees until they were no longer blocking the trail. It was a huge victory for everyone, and even Jed the Llama would be proud.

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For the last day of our hitch, the crew got the pleasure of working on the William’s Fork Trail. This trail gave the crew the opportunity to hike on some new, refreshing terrain that included a baby Lodgepole Pine forest and endless Aspen grove. The crew ended their hitch with a total of 97 trees cut and over 150 drains built. We returned to the Forest Service Village to sharpen tools and end our night with a very much anticipated village Bar-B-Que. The Shadow Mountain Crew looks forward to working their last hitch of the season.

Final Photo

-Ashley Fox, Shadow Mountain Crew Leader of the Week

This week the Boulder Crew went back to the beautiful Ceran St. Vrain trail and worked on a retaining wall. To begin the day the crew started with a 50 minute hike into the trail to the location of the retaining wall. We began building the retaining wall on the part of the trail that merged into two separate directions, one of which allowed jeep and horse use. The side of the trail on which the trail began to be built was looking very eroded as people were seemingly walking over the side rather than around. The crew split into different jobs, most collected crush rock and boulders to stabilize and build the retaining wall. Others focused on picking away at the wall and placing the rocks so they fit nicely. The crew worked on this trail on Tuesday and Wednesday, by Thursday the work on the retaining wall was minimal so the crew split up and most went to the Jean Lunning trail. At Jean Lunning there were two bridges which had broken railings. One was about half a mile into the trail and the other was about 1 mile. The crew used wrenches to remove the railings from the bridge and picked up the wood which had already broken off. Some of the railings posed a problem since they rusted or they were buried beneath dirt, but the Boulder crew does not take no for an answer. When they were finished they hauled the wood down to the trailhead, it took a few trips but the job was done. After lunch the crew worked on digging a few drains and clearing out some which were filled in with dirt and debris. On the final day of the week the Boulder crew went to a new trail which was the Fourth of July trail.  They began the day by covering some social trails to deter hikers from going on them. These trails were very prominent and it was even difficult to tell apart the main trail from the social trails. However, after the crew was done blocking the trails with dead trees and fallen branches the trails were no longer as visible as they were. The rest of the day was spent by digging drains and the crew got about a mile and half in to the trail.

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Next week the Boulder crew looks forward to their first back country work hike of the season, where they will be working on fixing a bridge. That experience will be a great way to end the season for the Boulder Crew.

-Ashley Munoz, Boulder Crew Leader of the Week

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In the Field: Week 6

Over the past four days, the Red Feather and Rawah crews went on a backpacking hitch together in the Comanche Peak Wilderness. We started our trek, with high spirits and overflowing packs, from the Beaver Creek trailhead and set up our base camp near the Comanche Reservoir. For the next three days, we would be performing maintenance runs up different trails to elevations as high as 11,500 ft.  After setting up camp we continued up the trail and eventually turned south toward Comanche Lake where we cleaned out drains to help water move more easily off of the soggy trail. Arin Leopold carried the cross cut saw for the entire day and yet there was not one tree to be removed. That evening, we were gifted with a beautiful sunset as the full moon began to rise. It was off to bed at 8:30pm for the two crews because we needed to be up at 5:45am to make it on time to work the next day.

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Above: The end of a sunset as the full moon began to rise over Comanche Reservoir

On the second day in the Comanche Peaks, Rawah and Red Feather hiked the Beaver Creek Trail for five miles, heading above tree line and into the tundra. As we panted our way up the trail, we worked on many different drainage structures, cleared small trees and branches off the trail with loppers, and even built a small bridge. We ran into a small snowfield at higher elevations and were eventually chased below tree line by a dark and looming storm.

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Above: A small bridge was constructed out of materials found near the trail

Below: Red Feather crew members Arin Leopold and Otieno (James) Fisher enjoy the predicament of having to repair a trail covered in snow

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Above: The twelve member crew snaps a quick photo just as a large storm rolls in

Day three in the Comanche Peaks consisted of a steep hike up to Browns Lake and Timberline Lake. Along the way we performed the usual maintenance sweep, cleaning out and adding drains to improve the trail water removal. We also closed down multiple “social trails” or offshoots of trail from the main trail that should not be there.  We took one of our breaks next to the beautiful Browns Lake and Eeland Stribling took advantage of the opportunity to get in a few casts and caught three fish (pictured below).

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On day four, the two crews packed up camp and hiked all the gear back out to the Beaver Creek Trailhead. Along the way we perfomed routine maintenance on the trail while carrying our packs full of gear. However, the loads were much lighter than on the way in because we must have each eaten nearly ten pounds of food. Overall, it was a beautiful week in the Comanche Peaks which brought the two crews close together as  we struggled with the challenges of backpacking while simultaneously doing trailwork.

-Sabrina Farmer, Red Feather Crew Leader of the Week

This week, the Estes Crew was reunited with the National Park Service trails crew after having spent the week before with the exotics crew. We were all excited to enhance our trail maintenance skills and explore new trails of Rocky Mountain National Park.

 

We were mainly stationed half a mile up on the Sandbeach Lake trail, located in the Wild Basin area of RMNP. After packing in a variety of tools, the Estes crew began working on installing log checks in a particularly steep section of trail. NPS Trails crew members helped members of the Estes crew initially with the technical aspects placing log checks, but soon we were working in groups to install the checks. One of the new aspects about this series of checks was that were using were logs from trees found in near the trail that had died due to beetle infestation. Members of the Estes crew accompanied a NPS Trails crewmember as they scouted the hillside for trees that would work well for the log checks. Jesse, Ben, and Hunter also learned the valuable lumberjack skill of debarking trees! Estes Crew members also enhanced their skills in measuring, crushing rock, and, perhaps the most exciting for Ben and Hunter, rolling boulders down hill in order to use them to pin the ends of the logs into the trail.

 

We continued to work on the log checks through Tuesday. On Wednesday, we were given the task of hiking the entirety of the Sandbeach Lake trail for a maintenance run. On our second day of work of the summer with the Trails crew, we had completed a maintenance run up a mile away from the lake, so it was an exciting hike as we were able to hike up to all the way up to the lake while finishing the drains on the last third of the trail. And we definitely enjoyed Sandbeach Lake! There was a wonderful view of Mount Meeker and the water was just warm enough for a quick dip! We also had a little bit of extra time, so Ben and Hunter gave the rest of the crew a lesson on skipping rocks, while Ritzi and Jesse led the crew in some serene yoga poses. We all felt very centered afterwards.

 

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Hunter and Ben enjoying Sandbeach Lake

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Ben creating crush to help set the log checks.

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Yuritzi checks her log with the line level to ensure proper placement.

On Thursday, Estes Crew finished the log checks on the section of the trail that we had been working on earlier in the week. Ritzi, Jesse, and NPS Trails crewmembers hiked a mile up the trail to work on another section of log checks that needed finishing touches. They also learned how to use the microblaster, a device that is uses a small explosive charge to fracture large rocks! It was all very exciting.

 

Next week, the crew looks forward to learning about revegetation in RMNP as we work with the Revegetation Crew.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Estes Crew thanking all of those who make their work possible!

                This week with the Kawuneeche Crew consisted of two major projects. The crew for this week was split into two different groups. On the west side was the continuation of restoring the comfort station at timber creek campgrounds. Monday consisted of removing grout so that the team may apply new grout to match with the grout added in the previous weeks.

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Crew member Tatyana removing grout between the tiles in the comfort station at Timber Creek Campground

The other group visited the east side’s Wild Basin picnic area. This week was different from what the group had been experiencing throughout the season. The crew worked on creating a new wheel chair accessible lane from the parking lot, to a picnic table, to the bathroom. A large portion of the day was preparing at the Projects shop. Grabbing shovels, rakes, pick mattock, axe, double jacks, and mcleods for establishing new lanes. The initial step was digging out the old logs so that we were able to set in the new ones brought in last week.

Tuesday wasn’t anything extraordinary for Tatyana and I on the west side. At some points we thought that we would have to remove grout for the rest of the week because of the unexpected amount of time needed to take out the old material. But when we were finished, putting in the new grout was like putting icing after removing the burnt crust off of a cake.

On the other side, Dax and Will were working on a retaining wall for the bathroom so that water can be diverted when it rains. Rachel and Dom were resuming work on the path from the parking lot to the picnic table. After finish laying in the log, they applied road base and crusher between the logs and using the tamping machine, they were able to be done with the first trail.

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Crew member Rachel and crew leader Dom working on the new path from the parking lot to the picnic table

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Crew members Will and Dax working on the retaining wall for the bathroom

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From left to right: Bob, Rachel (Kawuneeche Crew Member), Geoff, Rachel (RMCC Faculty), Dom

All working on the path from the parking lot to the bathroom

Wednesday morning, the group members on the east side were able enjoy the company of Geoff and Rachel. The objective of that day was to create the second path from the parking lot to the bathroom.

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The afternoon west side with Geoff consisted of washing the tiles, moving dirt and applying another coat of gloss to wooden boards.

Thursday was finishing up on the east side. Applying both road base and crusher and packing it with the tamper was all that was needed to finish up the last lane of the site. New fencing along the side of the bathroom and a handicap accessible parking pad were inserted. The most difficult part of the week for the crew on the east side was trying to adjust to the new tools and tasks that were required (Rachel’s was hammering the rebar).

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Crew leader Dom using the tamping machine to compact the road base

Tatyana and I were focusing on installing the new doors for the comfort station. We had to remove the previous frames that kept the old doors in. That allowed for us to adjust to the right size for the current doors. After putting them up, we painted the doors and the new frame to match the color of the building. We also laid more grout into any spots that still displayed dark patches to get a uniform color in the interior of the bathroom.

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Crew member Tatyana painting one of the new doors

-Adam Nguyen, Kawuneeche Crew leader of the Week

On July 19th-22nd the Boulder crew helped with the new long lake connector trail which took all week working on it. On the first day of working with the connector trail at long lake the crew split into two teams, one staying behind and cutting trees that were dead or on the trail, the other team helped with rock work. On the second day working at the connector the process of completing the trail still continued. Trees were still being cut down out of the way of the trail and the clearing of top soil and duff continued. The trail was being fixed by removing big boulders out of the way, making the trail 4 feet wide, and making it clear for people to see the trail. On the third day we were working faster since the crew did not have to split into two teams. The Boulder crew was working all together on the same side of the trail knocking down the work that needed to be completed. We also had a chance to work with the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps which was a larger group than ours, having this team up helped the process of the trail closer to completion. Not only were we closer to the completion of the connector but the Boulder crew and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps become closer with each other. The last day on the new trail the bridge and rock work was completed and even though we did not get all the way through the trail with 4 feet of clearing duff. The Boulder Crew was well appreciated to help and be a part of the construction of the new long lake connector trail. The work was seen as quality rather than quantity.

-Gustavo Balderas, Boulder Crew Leader of the Week

This week, the Shadow Mountain crew was not unlike young bats, of whom have just left their parents after a short 3 weeks, as our forest liaison and supervisor was on leave. Fortunately crew leader Amy and forest service employee Lauren stepped up to fill the leadership void in our lives. After two consecutive backcountry spikes and the RMC midweek, we finally had a week to work out of Shadow Mountain Village, sleep in our beds, create culinary compositions, and work on the 1500 piece puzzle Amy found at a thrift store.

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On our first day of work, Geoff joined us to complete a retaining wall turnpike combo that we started a month prior on the Grand Lake East Shore Trail. Our group waited at our meeting spot while Llamas were wrangled for the Student Conservation Association’s back country hitch. Its not clear what the delay was, but word on the street is there were kicks thrown, exclusively by Llamas. Once we got to work, the magic started happening. Because of how deftly we handled carrying rock, placing stepping stones, and tamping dirt we finished ahead of schedule. The turnpike was successfully tested by numerous hikers, though many preferred to tiptoe along the side of it for some reason. While some of us sharpened tools, John and Lauren took the Jed the Llama for a long lakeside stroll in the pouring rain, no kicks thrown this time.

The next day we were enlisted by the OHV(off highway vehicle) trail crew to help with one of the motorized vehicle trails in Stillwater Pass. We rehabilitated a section of ATV revenged trail by fixing the grade and placing pavers in eroded sections, all while dodging ATVs and dirt bikes. We used a lot of McLeods, Pulaskis, and hoes. The OHV crew was blown away by the power of youthful enthusiasm. It was fun to do a completely new kind of trail work, hopefully next time we can drive the ATVs ourselves.

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Toby putting in pavers

            Our final day of work was a return to our bread and butter; cutting fallen trees. After weeks of project work, cutting tread, and decommissioning trails, it felt good to grow our beards, put on flannel, and get to sawing trees and covering trail. We cut roughly 30 trees, and by sticking to the theme of the week, finished our tasks by lunchtime. While it was encouraging getting things done so efficiently, we do not enjoy the feeling of not having a project to do. Fortunately this feeling did not last long–we high tailed it up to Wolverine Pass and cleared trail up to a picturesque meadow, of which all agreed is an ideal spot to frolic, if thats your thing.

Overall a great week for Shadow Squad, and I enjoyed being the assistant crew leader, although nobody (including myself) followed my one new rule, which was no quesadillas.

-Toby Martin, Crew Leader of the week, Shadow Mountain Crew

 

In the Field: Week 5 (Part Two)

This past week, the Shadow Mountain Crew teamed up with the Off Highway Vehicle Trail Crew and the Student Conservation Association Crew in the backcountry near Columbine Lake for five days! It was a productive week with eighteen people and two llamas camping and working together. Wait, did I just say two llamas? Yes you heard right because the Shadow Mountain Crew just got two new llamas to work with! Lucinda and Loretta are the newest members of our crew while llama Jed takes a rest and enjoys a bit of retirement. We hear Jed is doing quite well and the IRA and stocks he invested in earlier are paying out big dividends.

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Loretta looking fine with the sunset

             On Tuesday we loaded up all of our tools and gear and set out for our campsite near Columbine Lake. After hiking in and setting up camp we set out to collect rocks for a thirty-foot turnpike we aimed to build. After about two hours of hauling numerous buckets of rocks and creating a significant cache, we ended the workday and enjoyed a hearty stir-fry meal cooked up by Toby.

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Pre-Turnpike site with Izzy in the background debarking a tree

        On Wednesday the crew split up to work on different projects. Some of the RMC worked with Wilderness Ranger Andy to build the turnpike while some went to improve the trail further up near the lake where instead of there being one main trail, there were many small social trails all going off in different directions. With such a large group of workers, the turnpike was finished and a lot of progress was made on creating one main trail up to Columbine Lake. After a full ten-hour day, we headed back to camp and enjoyed fajitas and backcountry brownies made by John and Izzy.

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The finished turnpike section

 On Thursday all of us set out to work on redirecting the many goat trails into one main trail. To do this, we had to create new tread in certain sections and dig up the hard-packed goat trails with picks so that new vegetation could take root. It was a full day with non-stop work to be done but we made significant progress and everyone was feeling good about the amount of work that was accomplished. Today we also reached Columbine Lake and all of our crew jumped in! The water was refreshing and reinvigorating for the rest of the work that needed to be done that day. Back at camp that night we kicked back and relaxed at the campsite with a special visit from Troy, a Sulpher Ranger District Trail Crew worker who brought his dog and speakers!

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Ash hard at work making new trail with the Pulaski while Miles Miller surveys the work.

On Friday we pushed on with the objective to improve already built sections of the trail that needed work. The day included building a plethora of drains and benching out sections of the trail that were creeping because of the steep downward slope. Being on our fourth day of backcountry work, the crew was tired but we pushed on, putting our bodies on the line for the good of the trail and the hikers we owed it too. One could describe us as a relentless machine, pushing on with an unbreakable spirit, ever eager for trail work. When a call came to Wilderness Ranger Andy that a woman had broken her foot on the trail, who volunteered to help assist with carrying her down on a backboard after already a 10 hour work day? Amy, Toby, and Abigail of Shadow Mountain, that’s who!

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The unbreakable spirits of Ash, Izzy, and Abigail on Friday (each orange flag marks a newly dug drain)

On Saturday everyone woke up early to pack up and head back to Shadow Mountain Village to repair tools and finish up the backcountry hitch. I woke up at 3:45 a.m. to hike up Mt. Neva for the sunrise and made the summit at 5:30 a.m. It was a beautiful view that I enjoyed and then proceeded to hike back down to camp to be ready to hike out with the crew around 7:15 a.m. We made it back to Shadow Mountain Village, repaired tools, and then all headed to The One and Only Snack Bar for double cheeseburgers and ice cream to end the work week together.

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Sunrise view from the top of Mt. Neva

-John Kurtz, Assistant Crew Leader of the Week

In the Field: Week 5 (Part One)

After a week spent on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park for RMC-CC’s educational mid-week, the Kawuneeche Crew returned to the beautiful Kawuneeche Valley. On Monday, we arrived at our comfort station and were pleased to see that in our absence our NPS supervisors replaced nearly all of the windows. After admiring the glimmering glass, we jumped right back into work. In the morning, the crew prepped an area outside the comfort station for a concrete (or as we’ve learned is often called “mud” in the business) sidewalk to be poured later in the week. Prepping the area for concrete included digging out the area four inches deep, and creating a border using wooden boards and stakes. Once this was completed, the rest of our day was spent framing the new windows (to ensure that they stay in place), using wooden boards, a nail gun, and a lot of precise measuring. While half of the crew spent the afternoon doing this, the other half worked on removing grout from the comfort station’s tile floors, via a rotary tool equipped with a specialized and extremely sharp blade.

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Crew leader Dom and crew member Dax examining and working on the area outside the comfort station to be filled with concrete.

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Crew member, Will, working on placing a border around the area outside the comfort station for the concrete sidewalk.

Tuesday brought more window work. In addition to continuing to frame the windows, the crew also replaced the remaining few windows, which are the windows that can be opened and closed to the outside world. (It is also worth noting that we now no longer have to board up the windows before leaving for the day…which is very exciting for us!) In the afternoon, we framed these windows and also worked on removing more grout from the tile floors. Tuesday further consisted of chinking at the Mess Hall up at Lake Irene. And after work on Tuesday afternoon, I, as the assistant crew leader of the week, taught the crew a lesson on making art from nature. After I spoke about some of the history and theory behind nature art, the crew created their own pieces of art from the nature found in our backyard, and explained their pieces to the rest of the crew.

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Crew member, Adam, displaying his nature art, in the form of a mandala, to the rest of the crew.

On Wednesday, the crew completed even more grout work. Not only did the crew finish removing the grout (a much more difficult and time consuming task than you might otherwise think, and hence why it took nearly three days to complete) from the women’s side of the comfort station, but crew member Dax and crew leader Dom also grouted the women’s side. This, too, was another time consuming task, as it involved a great deal of waiting for various steps to be completed, namely the washing and drying of the tiles before and after the grout had been placed. Lastly, the other half of the crew spent the day chinking at Lake Irene, working primarily on the corners of the building; and we came incredibly close to completing the project.

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Crew Member, Adam, using the rotary tool to remove grout from the comfort station’s tiles.

            Our last work day of the week, Thursday, was an exciting and busy day for the Kawuneeche Crew! While half of the crew spent the day at the comfort station, the other half headed over to the east side of the park to help transport materials for a project next week. At the comfort station, Dom and Dax spent the morning hauling and dumping wheel barrels of concrete from a truck to the area for the sidewalk. Once the concrete was dumped, our NPS supervisors Bob, Chuck, and John spread and evened the concrete into the area. The exterior of the bathroom continues to progress, and now that it has a brand new sidewalk, it looks wonderful! Once the sidewalk was completed, Dom and Dax spent the rest of the day doing (you guessed it!) more grout work. In the meantime, the rest of the crew, including myself, Adam, and Will loaded our work truck with all of the shingles remaining from the re-shingling of the comfort station’s roof a few weeks back. After loading the shingles, we headed up to Lake Irene to finish up chinking the last corner of the Mess Hall. An hour of work later and we were proud to have finished this project for the summer, and it looks fantastic! We then headed over Trail Ridge Road with the shingles (just imagine driving over a curvy, mountain road with a huge, weighted down truck) and unloaded them near the park headquarters. Next, we loaded James’, one of our NPS supervisors, truck with logs and drove to a picnic area near the Wild Basin area to drop them off. Because we needed to take forty logs to this area, we ended up taking two trips. And while we spent a good deal of our day driving, the scenery was beautiful and was a great way to end the start to the second half of the season!

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Crew Leader, Dom, admiring the newly poured concrete sidewalk.

            Next week, we are looking forward to making more progress on the comfort station and to some new projects on the east side of the park!

-Rachel Eckert, Kawuneeche Crew Leader of the Week

One of my favorite things about the Estes Crew is that we are given opportunities to work in other areas of the park outside of trails. Don’t get me wrong- I absolutely love trail work. However, trail work is not something that everyone is interested in turning into a life-long career. So this week, the members of Estes Crew got to work with the Resource Stewardship division of Rocky and explore more options for future jobs or careers. This week, we worked with a crew that manages the flora of the park by removing invasive plants.

Today, invasive species are one of the largest threats to native plants and wildlife all across the globe, and the culprit is often humans. Rocky Mountain National Park has a huge diversity of plants from the montane life zone all the way to the tundra. This diversity even earned them recognition as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. However, it is the beautiful landscape that affords the park recognition and attracts the people that bring with them invasive weeds such as Musk Thistle and Cheatgrass. This is where crews like the one we worked with this week step in.

The main methods for removing invasive weeds are manually removing them and using herbicides applied with a backpack sprayer. Herbicides can sound like a scary thing, right? With some of the invasive species in the park, using herbicides is the best viable option for their removal. For example, simply pulling Canada Thistle does not work, because the roots will then sprout several more plants in the same spot. I can assure you that the NPS employees who manage the plans for invasive weeds rely heavily on the best science available, only use them if they are the best option, and hold their crews to the highest safety standards. The chemicals used in the park are specific to certain plant families, and don’t stay in the environment long. The use of backpack sprayers allows only certain plants to be targeted and there are strict guidelines on where the use of herbicides is allowed. If you would like more information on the use of herbicides in parks, I have provided links at the end of this post.

Thanks for checking back in with our RMC crews! It’s now the weekend and we’re all off to hike, climb, and float the beautiful land that we’re living in.

Rocky Mountain NP Environmental Assessment- Exotic Plant Removal

Yosemite NP Treatment of Invasive Plants

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 The Estes Crew, along with the Park Service employees, work through a field looking for Musk and Canada Thistle.

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 Estes Crew members Jessa and Yuritzi head back to the car at the end of our workday.

estes 3Before we use our backpack sprayers, we had to calibrate the amount we would spray per acre. Here, crewmember Jesse is going through the calibration process before spraying weeds.

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  Crewmember Jessa sprays Canada Thistle in the thickets of the Sheep Lakes area of Rocky.

-Miranda Thompson, Estes Crew Leader

Over the course of the last week, the Boulder Crew worked on three main projects. The first of these involved constructing a turnpike within James Peak Wilderness, just south of Nederland. On the first day, we were joined by Geoff Elliot who aided us in the construction of the turnpike. For construction, we spent a great deal of time collecting rocks of all shapes and sizes. The perimeter of the turnpike consisted of very large rocks that required two or more people to carry with the help of a rock austin. Once the outside perimeter of the turnpike was complete, the crew had to line the inside of the turnpike with large rocks followed by smaller rocks, a layer of dirt, more small rocks, and then a final layer of dirt. Having good clean dirt was essential in construction. Crew Leader, Tom Enright, proved to have a true natural ability in selecting the site to borrow dirt from. Tom spent the better part of two days sifting through dirt, removal large impurities, to ensure that we have a pure final product. Way to go Tom! One of the more interesting things we saw while working in James Peak Wilderness was a man walking his three goats on the trail. The most exciting thing we usually see, as far as domesticated wildlife goes, is an abnormally large dog, so it was pretty special to see a small herd of goats.

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Tom excavating the turnpike section.

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Dalton creating the edge for the turnpike.

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Hailey removing loose soils from the turnpike area.

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Milda and Tom using rock bars to unearth rocks.

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Milda and Tom work together to carry a large rock to the worksite.

On the final day of the work week, the crew split with half of us going into Brainard Lake to work on the Long Lake Connector and the other half traveling to Ceran St. Vrain to construct a rock retaining wall. At Brainard Lake we spent the entire day removing hazard trees and other trees that were in the corridor of the connector. The connector is going to be crucial to the Brainard Lake area because it will provide an off-road alternative to walking the road from the main parking area in order to access some of the more popular trailheads. The work at Brainard Lake was taxing at times but the need for the corridor kept the crew engaged. At Ceran St. Vrain, the other half of the crew spent their day building a rock retaining wall in an effort to reduce erosion near the trail. It seemed that the general theme of the week was rock collecting, with this half of the crew spending the majority of the day once again collecting rocks of all shaped and sizes.

This week was a little more interesting than usual due to the Cold Spring Fire. The fire started just north of our work center and spread south skirting the east side of Nederland. On Saturday, the fire spread quickly and due to the proximity of the fire it was a major topic of conversation whether we should relocate where we were staying for the week. But thanks to the hard work of our wildland firefighters, the fire was contained within a few days, and our home within Kelly Dahl Campground was safe along with the rest of Boulder County. By the time the blaze reached 100% containment five homes had been destroyed and a little more than 500 acres of land were burned.

-Dalton Moore, Boulder Crew Leader of the Week

This past week the Rawah and Red Feather Crews partnered up with Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WLRV) back at Young Gulch. Here is each crew’s account of the work completed!

After a great weekend trip to Moab Utah, the Rawah Crew was ready to head back to Young Gulch with Nate, our Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WLRV) contact and the Red Feather crew. This week had hazards that we discussed every morning before starting our day. Hazards like Rattlesnakes, Poison Ivy, the heat, and tool safety. Both crews did a great job at be spatially aware of each other and being safe of these hazards.

We widened and adjusted the tread of the trail that we established from the week of June 13th. The Wildlands Restoration Volunteers created a switchback turn in previous weeks, and several members of the Rawah Crew lowered the height, made the slope more gradual and widened the tread of the turn. This allows for future mountain bikers and hikers to have an easier transition up or down the trail.

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Rawah Crew Member Gus lowering the slope using a Pick Mattock

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Rawah Crew member Garret adjusting the height of the trail.

Rock walls are a way to support the trail. Three new rock walls were established on the trail, and several more were readjusted to make sure they work effectively. Looking for large flat rocks in tall grass with rattlesnakes around is not fun, but all crew members were safe, vigilant and enjoyed finding rocks that worked well. In order for the rock wall to be stabilized, smaller rocks or “crush” was used to fill in the negative space of the rocks.

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Gus wearing his personal protection equipment to create crush for a rock wall.

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Creating rock walls are fun! Des smiles as Geoff is impressed with the rock wall.

Both crews were able to create a quarter mile more trail after the gulch crossing. Poison Ivy was abundant. However, crew member of the week, Sam Ruhala, used a McCloud to clear away any on or close to the trail. He helped keep both crews safe. The Red Feather crew did more creation, as the Rawah crew did the rock walls and maintenance of the old trail. Being on the Rawah trails can get quite lonely. Aside from the crew, we see very few people on trails or anywhere while we are working. That being said it is always a pleasure working with another crew. Especially one as fun and productive as Red Feather. One of my favorite quotes is by Simon Sinek and it is “If you have the opportunity to do amazing things in your life, I strongly encourage you to invite someone to join you”. At the end of the week we all felt accomplished and proud of our maintenance and creation of the Young Gulch trail. Nate, our WLRV contact, surprised us with two big watermelons to thank us for our work.

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Rawah crew members Kyrie and Sam pose for a picture after a day of work.

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Red Feather crew member Sabrina enjoys the watermelon at the end of a hot, hard week.

-Eeland Stribling, Rawah Crew Leader of the Week

This week July 11th-14th the Red Feather Lakes crew collaborated with the Rawah crew at Young Gulch in the Poudre Canyon. This was the second time the Red Feather Lakes crew has worked with the Rawah crew in Young Gulch, the first time the crews joined forces was the first week when all of the Rocky Mountain Conservancy crews dispersed to their permanent residences until the end of the season. Due to severe floods the Young Gulch has been closed since 2013 and not set to reopen until 2018. Once a very popular hiking and biking trail on the 14 highway west of Fort Collins, the trail was damaged by the high park fire in 2012 and only days after reopening in September 2013 until the torrent took out majority of its trail. The two crews, Red Feather Lakes and Rawah, have been working with the forest service to rebuild a new route that is more sustainable.

Our objective, this week, in Young Gulch was to reinforce and fine tune sections that had been previously worked on. We did this by back sloping and leveling out the tread and inaugurating a drainage grade. Section notes were provided to both crews which helped immensely. Each section was cut into 100 foot long blocks of which there were 23 blocks that we worked on, that’s close to half a mile of work done in 4 days. A lot of what we did consisted of hauling many loads of dirt and transferring from different sections of the trail. We stored much of the trail materials into designated piles consisting of rock piles, mineral soil piles, and organic soil piles. Our biggest concerns with the trail were the rattle snakes, which we saw several in a days’ work and the poison ivy that the crews had cleared out to create pathway.

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The picture above is the adventurous Wyatt from the Red Feather Lakes crew holding a bull snake that he found on the trail. Wyatt is fearful when it comes to finding wildlife, but his curiosity supersedes his fear of handling the wildlife. The Young Gulch has a mélange of wildlife from shrubs, ponderosa pine, juniper and Douglas fir along its’ hillsides. Along with the vegetation Young Gulch also has different breeds of snakes, fish, and deer.

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The picture above (from left to right) is Wyatt, with the Red Feather Lakes crew, Sam, with the Rawah crew, and Daina, with the Red Feather Lakes crew. All three of the crew member’s just completed a drainage grade by carefully selecting melon-sized rocks and by depositing each one along the inside of the turn and finishing it off by adding crushed rock in between the larger ones to hold them into place. The Drain was made because the natural flow of water ran right in that section of the turn so the drain keeps the trail from eroding.

Many of the crew members agree that working in Young Gulch has been their favorite project yet because they are able to see a brand new trail put in with their very own efforts and this give everyone a great sense of achievement. Everyone has worked adamantly to create this trail and you can see that the work that was put into it was made carefully and diligently.

-Daina Daniels, Red Feather Crew Leader of the Week

I was fortunate enough to make it out to the Young Gulch project this past week and took some photos of my own. Here they are:

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Education Week

All of the crews took a break from the field last week to return to Estes Park for Education Week. During Education Week, the crews get a chance to learn more about career opportunities in public lands and the natural and cultural history of Rocky Mountain National Park.

With Monday off in honor of the Fourth of July, the crews began their week on Tuesday with a split day. Half of the crews spent the morning volunteering alongside the National Park Service’s exotics team by helping remove invasive thistles from the Moraine Park Campground. For most of the crews this was a new side to resource management. Check out photos of them below:

IMG_1040IMG_0999IMG_1090The other half of the crews, spent the morning with Rachel Balduzzi, Education Director for Rocky Mountain Conservancy. Rachel guided them through the National Park Service headquarters area at RMNP providing insight into all of the different divisions and career pathways within the National Park Service.

For the second half of the day the two groups switched: those volunteering met up with Rachel for the afternoon, and the crews that spent their morning with Rachel headed out to manage invasive thistles.

For the rest of the week the crews were divided up taking classes on topics ranging from primitive survival skills to tundra ecology and medicinal plants to geology. I am still awaiting photos from the classes, I think the crews might have been too focused to even pull out the phones for a photo opp!

In the Field: Week 4

The Red Feather Crew worked to complete maintenance runs on the Killpecker and North Lone Pine trails over the past we week. The water damage turned the North Lone Pine trail into a soupy mess towards the end of the system, but with hard work and good music we were able to take the soupy mess and turn it more into a hearty stew, worthy of walking on. All in all we were able to complete the maintenance runs on both trails and help alleviate the swampy problem that is the last half mile of the North Lone Pine trail.

Most of our work consisted of clearing and building drains, with the occasional tree clearing. The maintenance runs were on the shorter side of what we usually do, but the change in elevation helped keep us humble. One cannot help but contemplate what it means to be in shape when they are trying their best not to fall over backward from the combination of exhaustion and a crosscut saw pulling them back as it bounces behind their shoulder.

On Monday we experienced a unique situation with an injured dirt biker. The biker and his friend were just finishing up their ride as we were headed back to the bunk house. They passed us on the road as we stopped to clear some limbs and trees that blocked part of the drive. A few minutes later we came upon the two riders on the ground, one of them had hit the forest service gate that blocked the road. Fortunately three of the six of us have our Wilderness First Responders and were able to help the biker with his wounds and provide him with a ride to his vehicle.

We were visited by our manager, Geoff, on Tuesday and were able to put him to work helping us limb and clear downed trees that blocked the trail. In the large gaps of trail between downed trees we were able to employ him as a porter of sorts for our crosscut saw, with the promise of a meal at the end of the day. Little did Geoff know that the meal that day was an improvised effort by me and Otieno, put into effect after learning that yes, Geoff will be staying for dinner.

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IMG_2616.JPG-Arin Leopold, Red Feather Crew Leader of the Week

For Estes Crew, we ended the first half of the summer with a completely different type of trail work. Instead of going out on maintenance runs, we worked on a trail revitalization project in the Tuxedo Park area of Rocky. This trail is used frequently by the public and by groups from the YMCA- including large groups on horseback. Due to the frequent use by people and the impact from horses, the trail has been heavily rutted out and the wooden log steps have been damaged. This is where we can step in and work to improve this trail so that it is easier for people and horses to use and lasts for decades to come.

The kind of work involved in this project is very different than simply going on a maintenance run. Trail improvement projects are often centered on a much smaller area and require thinking more strategically than digging drains on several miles of trail. The main component of this project that we worked on was installing log checks. Log checks are first and foremost used as erosion control structures and also as steps on steep grades. The process of installing a log check involves using math (wasn’t expecting to need that this summer) to calculate the grade between each step, moving boulders and positioning them just right to secure the logs, crushing rocks using double and single jacks, and then filling them in with wheelbarrow loads of dirt.

The crew thoroughly enjoyed the project that we worked on this week and it was fulfilling to see the constant progress as we worked. It was definitely an excellent way to end the first half of our week season. Now, we look forward to the educational portions of the upcoming midweek along with getting to reunite with the other crews and find out what everyone else has been up to for the past month.

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Hunter and Ben loading up the wheelbarrows full with new tread for our trail

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Jessa and Jesse get to show their intensity when smashing rocks with single jacks.

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Some of the boulders we moved were massive, but the payoff is a stronger log check and stronger muscles.

-Miranda Thompson, Estes Crew Leader

This week, the Boulder crew continued their work at the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, swamping out a future trail, constructing drains, doing some crosscut work, and breaking down an area that had been dammed up with debris. It was a productive work week leading up to mid-week.

On Tuesday, the crew continued their work in the high country above 11,000 feet. The work that was conducted the majority of the day was drain constructing. The entire crew worked along Sourdough Trail for the first half of the day. Shortly after lunch, the crew split up into two different groups. One, continuing their work on drains, while the other of the group started swamping out a future trail. When swamping out a future trail, the group follows a Sawyer, who cuts down larger trees with a chainsaw. The cut trees are carried to areas from 50 to 100ft away where they cannot be seen from the trail.

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On Wednesday, the crew split up into two separate groups. One group continued swamping the future trail while the other traveled to Jean Lunning trail to take care of a tree that had fallen onto the boardwalk. The group that worked on the new trail got an exponential amount of work done, getting halfway through the trail. The second group had a lot of work ahead of them. The tree that had fallen was about 30 inches in diameter and needed to be cut a certain way so that it wouldn’t damage the boardwalk. The first cut was a challenge and took more time than expected, but the team worked together to get the job done. They proceeded on the trail to remove snow that had collected in the pathway. The two groups reconvened after lunch; finishing the day off with some crew swamping.

 

On Thursday, a larger number of combined crews split up into two groups. The first group finished swamping the future trail. The second, smaller group broke off and went to check out what work needed to be done on a separate trail. As the day carried on, so did the weather. Both groups received quite a bit of rain accompanied with some pea sized hail. The larger group finished swamping out the  new trail, which began winding its way through the lush green landscape. The trail leads through a more scenic route between the Mitchell Lake trail head and the Isabelle Lake trail head.  The two groups reconvened and started their work on a different trail that needed their attention. The trail was needing some work in the drain area. As the rain continued, so did the crews effort in insuring that the water would quickly be led off of the trail. The crew ended their day with the sharpening of their tools and the cleaning of their work vehicles.

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The crew split into two different groups on Friday. One working on a dam that had been created at Mitchell Lake; clearing fallen trees and debris of plants that had been taken with the water from the melting snow caps. The other group worked on the Isabelle Lake trail, creating drains to maneuver the water off of the trail as quickly as possible. The crew ended the day, wishing everyone an enjoyable Fourth of July weekend.

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The fourth week, overall, for the Boulder Crew, was filled with conservation work that ranged from clearing small bushes to moving 1000lb trees. It was a very productive week that many of the first time crew members will certainly remember as they will take with themselves much gained experience.

-Hailey Frost, Boulder Crew Leader of the Week

The Shadow Mountain Crew completed our first backcountry project this week! We built a turnpike on the High Lonesome Trail, camping out by Hamilton Creek. The High Lo Trail is a section of the Continental Divide Trail, which runs from Mexico to Canada through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. Over the course of the week, we met quite a few thru hikers from a variety of places, including Korea and Germany.

On Tuesday (the first day of our wacky work schedule), we hiked all of our tools and gear to the campsite. We decided to hike from a road instead of the trailhead, which meant the distance was shorter but we were also hiking through some unmaintained swampy areas. We made it to the campsite, set up camp by the creek, and checked out our worksite – an 100-foot-long marsh with a view of the mountains. The crew was definitely feeling tired, and Amy’s dinner of kale gumbo was physically and emotionally revitalizing.

Kendra + Amy Crew leader Amy and Forest Service liaison Kendra survey the marsh and determine where to build the turnpike

On Wednesday, we got to work. We spent most of the day debarking logs with draw knives, digging trenches to set the logs in, and collecting rocks for crush. Wednesday was also Abigail’s 19th birthday, which we celebrated with cookie and frosting deliciousness following some yummy burritos.

It rained all day on Thursday, but we kept our morale up and made a lot of progress on the turnpike. Toby figured out how to communicate with Jed, our pack llama.

Toby talks to Jed Toby learns to speak llama

Jed the llama Jed, the most beautiful llama in the world

We spent all of Friday gathering and crushing rock. We finished peeling and setting the logs, setting and nailing in the Geo Tech, and laying over 300 square feet of crush. We nourished ourselves with some delectable tuna mac ‘n cheese for dinner.

Crush rockCrew members set up rock crushing stations, using single jacks and double jacks.

On Saturday, we hiked back out to our worksite for the last time, dug barrow pits for soil, and filled in the top layer of the turnpike. After celebrating our success with some locals who crossed the completed turnpike on their morning hike, we broke camp and headed back to civilization. After another couple trips of wet hikes through the swamp, we made it back to the truck. Feeling dirty, tired, and accomplished, we celebrated the week by going out to Miyauchi’s Snack Bar, a local favorite in Grand Lake. Toby truly outdid himself by ordering enough food to warrant a box.

Overall, it was a great week! We worked hard, learned a lot, and had fun. The crew is looking forward to a week in Estes Park before heading out for another backcountry hitch in mid July.

-Izzy Owen, Shadow Mountain Crew Leader of the Week

As we start mid-week soon, us over at Kawuneechee are glad to have gotten a few jobs done at the comfort station that set us up to leave it alone for a week. On Monday half of the crew hung FRP board on the walls of the comfort station. To hang this it has to be precisely cut with a skill-saw so that it fits the wall and is aesthetic. After it is cut an adhesive is spread on the back with a special trowel and then it is placed on the wall, no nails are needed.

While half the crew worked on this the other half went to the east side and helped put new picnic tables in at Longs Peak Campground. There used to be a bunch of wooden tables there but we put in new concrete tables that will last longer and also are harder to move away from sites. They weigh 1800 pounds so we had to place them with a front end loader to lift them up. We dug the ground away to level them and then set them in place.  We also replaced a bear bin at Aspen Glen campground.

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Dax and James, NPS Staff, contemplate how to move this rock to set the table.

On Tuesday the two halves of the crew switched places and one crew got their chance to hang the FRP board in the women’s side of the comfort station. The other half of the crew went up to Lake Irene and worked on chinking at the mess hall that we have intermittently worked on throughout the season.

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A good reminder to be responsible at your campsite! (Observed at Timber Creek Campground)

On Wednesday one half of the crew began tiling the inside of the comfort station. The entire floor was not re-tiled, but places where the toilets once were needed to be re-tiled and the sides of the back wall needed to be re-tiled. The other half of the crew went back to the east side to help them cut out plywood for cage Windows that will go in at the mess hall at Lake Irene. We also set up for the Conservancy sponsored lunch for the park service. The Conservancy provided us with pulled pork from Smokin’ Daves in Estes and put on a great lunch for the park. It was much appreciated.

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The Kawuneeche Crew appreciating the wildlife and views on Trail Ridge Road

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Dax cutting plywood to re-frame windows on the east side.

On Thursday myself and Dax Deshazo stayed at the comfort station to grout the tiles. Grouting is long process that takes some patience to do. Our day was mostly consumed with this work as we learned the process and did our best to keep everything clean. The rest of the crew went back up to Lake Irene to do more chinking for the day. In the late afternoon we cleaned up the comfort station and closed it up in preparation for mid-week.

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Dax grouting tile with the newly placed FRP on the wall to his left.

 

 

-Dominic Rickicki, Kawuneeche Crew Leader

After tackling the Link and McIntire trails and starting work on the Rawah Trail in their first week in the Wilderness, the Rawah crew switched gears and started this week on Blue Lake Trail. With a picturesque alpine lake and paved road access to draw in the crowds, it was the first time the crew saw more hikers than moose on trail. Geoff Elliot, the Conservation Corps Manager, met the crew at the trailhead first thing Monday morning and helped them start off their week strong.

rawah 1Geoff and the Crew relax on a cairn at the top of Blue Lake Trail.

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The Rawah Crew above Blue Lake

After a hard day of digging drains, cutting trees, and lopping willows the crew returned to the Stub Creek Workstation to eat a final meal with Geoff and to wish him farewell as he departed for Red Feather.

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Geoff and the crew enjoy some homemade pizza at the Stub Creek Workstation.

Tuesday morning brought the crew back to Blue Lake as they continued work on the lower part of the trail. With multiple mud-ridden sections and a few hefty crosscuts, the five and a half miles of trail took the crew two more days of tough work to complete.

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Crew Member Kyrie trudges through snowpack on Blue Lake Trail

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Crew Member Gus digs out a drain on Blue Lake Trail.

After spending three days on Blue Lake Trail, the Rawah Crew finally returned to the Rawah trail on Thursday to continue their work there.  While the rest of the crew continued work on the rockbars they began last week, Crew members Sam and Garret worked their way up the trail cutting and clearing freshly fallen trees. By the end of the day, the crew had completed two major rockbars and cleared three and a half miles of trail. With two full weeks of work in the Rawah Wilderness, the crew returns next week to Estes Park and cell phone coverage for Midweek.

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Crew member Eeland crosses a creek on the Rawah Trail.

 

-Garret Fox, Rawah Crew Leader of the Week