In The Field: Week 3

Estes Crew

This week the Estes Crew changed things up from the normal trail work routine and joined Rocky Mountain National Park’s “Veg Crew” to help with a variety of projects. On Monday they helped restore the Bear Lake road reroute area. In 2012 one mile of Bear Lake road was rerouted away from Glacier Creek in order to prevent impacts to wetlands and riparian habitat, and the crew spent all day planting trees, grasses, forbs, and shrubs on the old road. With the new soil and vegetation, the road should begin to look like the surrounding habitat in a couple years!

bear lake road

Working hard in the hot sun!

On Tuesday the crew worked on a similar project at the Aspenglen campground. One of the campsite’s restrooms was recently renovated, and the construction caused major erosion and soil compaction in the surrounding area, killing almost all of the vegetation. To help restore the area the crew planted over one thousand plants, which will help stabilize the soil and prevent further erosion!

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Wednesday was quite the day for the Estes crew! They were recruited by one of the park’s wildlife teams to resolve a sticky situation on the west side of the park. Over the winter two female moose and one calf somehow managed to get into one of the Kawuneeche Valley vegetation exclosures (a fenced off area used to keep wildlife from feeding on aspen and willow). It was the crews job to “herd” the moose and get them to exit the exclosure via a gate in the fencing. It was undoubtedly a hazardous task, but the crew went through a lengthy safety briefing and successfully got all three moose to leave safely and peacefully! Now the park can continue to monitor how vegetation grows in the valley in the absence of large herbivores, and the moose can roam the park freely. With the remainder of the day the crew planted trees at the Timber Creek campground to help regrow the forest that had been devastated by the mountain pine beetle outbreak.

Watching for moose

The crew lined the bank of the Colorado River to keep the moose from crossing to the other side.

Simbi planting

Crewmember Simbi Umwali planting a young lodgepole pine at the Timber Creek campground

Thursday! The crew spent the final day of the workweek using their trail work skills to help the veg crew build a rock retaining wall. The park designated a space in one of its utility areas to build a large garden (about a quarter the size of a football field), which will be used as a seed source for future restoration projects. The garden is divided into two tiers, and the crew was tasked with building a retaining wall between the tiers to prevent erosion. They spent most of the day gathering large rocks, and were able to build 15 feet of wall before the day ended. There’s still about 50 feet of wall to go, but they definitely gave the veg crew a good start!

 

Rock wall

Crewmember Sal Sharp digging out a spot to place the final rock of the day!

All crew photo

All smiles for the Estes Crew!

 

Next week the crew will be back with trails and will begin project work! Though working with the veg crew was a nice change of pace, the crew is eager to get back on the trails and continue learning new skills and perfecting the art of drain digging. Stay tuned for more fun from the Estes Crew!

-Blake Crossland (Estes Crew Leader

 

Rawah Crew

The Rawah Wilderness crew started off their week by finally moving up to the
Stub Creek Work Center, after two weeks of bunking with the Red Feather crew. The
crew was excited to move into their home for the rest of the summer, start working on
their own trail system, and most of all start watching some movies from the awesome
VHS collection at Stub.

The crew started working on the Link trail, and encountered a plethora of fallen
lodgepole pine trees. A couple of big storms this past winter may have caused the
larger than average number of trees, and kept the crew busy working on the cross-cut
saw. Within the first four miles of the trail, the crew cut out or removed a total of 161
trees!

Crosscut.jpg

(Crew members Jordan Voght and Jacob Ng continue to buck out a fallen tree after placing a solid wedge.)

William on a log.jpg

(Crew member William Scarbro shows of his fashion sense and proper risk management, wearing both his hard hat and sombrero for maximum safety and style)

After spending two days working hard and cutting lots of trees on the Link trail, the crew moved onto the McIntyre trail on Wednesday. Working alongside the high waters of the creek, the crew cut out more trees and repaired or cleared out over 80 drains. The crew took advantage of working next to the creek by dunking in their heads to cool off during breaks.

Single Buck.jpg

(Crew Leader Gus Anderson was extremely stoked to encounter a sweet single under-bucking cut with a built-in rest for the saw.)

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(Crew Leader Gus Anderson does some blister repair on crew member Jordan Voght’s stinky feet.)

The crew finished off their last day of work for the week on the Rawah trail. The crew worked hard all day, cutting out many more trees, digging plenty of dips and drains, and only got lost once for a little bit. The Rawah trail was by far the busiest trail the crew worked on this week, encountering two different hikers over the course of the day! Although we don’t get to see many people, the views, hiking, and wildlife more than make up for the lack of company.

Looking toward Wyoming

(Crew member Noah Landguth looks out towards Wyoming while taking a well deserved break)

Nap time.jpg

(The whole crew, minus photographer Jacob Ng, gets in some quick beauty sleep during their afternoon break)

It was an awesome first week in the Rawah Wilderness; this place truly is special and we all feel extremely grateful to call it home for the summer. We’re working hard, having fun, and loving life way up in our own little slice of heaven. That’s all from the Rawah Crew this week.

Over and out.

-Gus Anderson (Rawah Crew Leader)

Red Feather

This week the Red Feather crew worked on the Red Feather Lakes trails. Starting on Monday they worked at the Lady Moon and Molly Lake trails. Hiking about 10 miles total, they preformed maintenance and took note of what projects could be done to make the trails better for those using it.

Rockbridge

Shelby and Abby Construct a Stepping Stone Crossing on Lady Moon

On Tuesday, they took to adventuring on Mount Margaret trail and the back half of the Frog Pond trail. Where they preformed mostly maintenance it he trails. They hiked about 10 miles clearing drains and trails.

Abby_Chop.jpg

Abby Using Her Pulaski Skills

On Wednesday, They traversed to Swamp Creek trail, then later that day they continued onto the front half of Frog Pond trail and the West Dowdy trail.  Traveling about another 10 miles, they finally got to crosscut some trees while preforming their maintenance.

East Dowdy

Strolling Down East Dowdy Trail in the Red Feather Trail System

On Thursday, they got to head back down to Big south trail where they worked about 5 miles into the trail. There they took the trees in the way and cut them down to size while preforming their regular maintenance on drains and trail clearing.

Corona.jpg

Shelby Cutting a Downed Tree on Big South

Friday they took at trip white water rafting down the Poudre river. In the freezing water some members felt as though they were freezing and others decided to jump ship and swim a little bit. Overall Red feather had a productive week and hope to continue doing so until he future.

Whitewater

Group Whitewater Rafting Featuring Connor—our guide

-Davina Spears (Red Feather Crew Leader of the Week)

Kawuneeche Crew

Monday

Morning was warmer than most early mornings had been so far in the season: the air lacked its usual chill. We first reported to the project garage, where we met Wilson, a seasonal employee who will be working with us on projects this summer. Wilson has worked for the National Park service for decades, and recently has focused on construction and historic building preservation.

With Wilson, we returned to the Leifer Cabin to resume “mothball” preservation work on the first floor.  By midafternoon, we had successfully finished chinking on the first floor plywood window coverings and front door covering.

Then we set up scaffolding in preparation for our work on the second floor. As a team, we worked together to assemble components. Then, we began measuring the second story windows for coverings. After, with Wilson’s instruction, we learned how to pattern the siding with shingles spaced in a way that mimicked the wall around where the coverings would be hung. We completed two shingled window coverings before our work day ended.

First Floor siding.JPG

The completed first floor of the cabin. Note the logs arranged on plywood to mimic the house’s original siding.

measuring windows.JPG

Garret takes measurements in order to cut plywood window covering.

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A completed, chinked door covering

Tuesday

Once again, we drove to the Leifer Cabin. We worked on putting shingles on more plywood coverings for the second floor. We first cut plywood in the right window dimensions, then stained the plywood, then began attaching shingles with a nailgun. This is a labor intensive process that demanded careful, meticulous work, and thus took a long time to complete few coverings.

In the afternoon, we headed back to the projects garage. Wilson taught us to glaze windows, a process where individual glass panes are reattached to their original wooden sash after time and the elements have degraded the original glazing. Lastly, we learned how to cut glass in the right shapes and dimensions for window panes using class cutters.

 

deaden nails.JPG

 

Kawuneeche crew members deaden nails on the back of a plywood covering.

Wednesday

In the morning, we finished measuring the upper story windows to make more coverings. We then cut more plywood, stained, and shingled. We climbed the scaffolding to attach the coverings. This process took most of the morning, due to its labor intensiveness. Later, we moved scaffolding around to other sides of the cabins and took more measurements to create more scaffolding. Late in the day, we ran out of shingles and had to place an order for more. The job will be finished next week when the rest of our necessary supplies arrive.

Thursday

On Thursday, our workday’s main task was completing five new picnic tables for employee housing in the park. We divided up into groups. The first group drove to “Tortilla Flats” to pick up parts from old picnic tables that had rotted wood but intact metal frames. The metal frames were removed with wrenches and the screws and nuts kept. These components would be used for the new tables. Another group began work on sanding fresh wooden beams to make the table and seat parts for the picnic tables. They used hand planers to created rounded edges on the beams.

We began assembling the benches with the separate parts. We used clamps to hold the components together while we screwed the new parts together. After each table was completed, some crew members started work on staining. Unfortunately a late afternoon thunderstorm prevented us from staining all the tables before the end of the day.

Week three brought new experiences and new skills to be learned. It was a good week, and after the weekend, we will be refreshed and ready for more.

 

historic windows

Wilson instructs crew members on the process for glazing historic windows

Thursday

On Thursday, our workday’s main task was completing five new picnic tables for employee housing in the park. We divided up into groups. The first group drove to “Tortilla Flats” to pick up parts from old picnic tables that had rotted wood but intact metal frames. The metal frames were removed with wrenches and the screws and nuts kept. These components would be used for the new tables. Another group began work on sanding fresh wooden beams to make the table and seat parts for the picnic tables. They used hand planers to created rounded edges on the beams.

We began assembling the benches with the separate parts. We used clamps to hold the components together while we screwed the new parts together. After each table was completed, some crew members started work on staining. Unfortunately a late afternoon thunderstorm prevented us from staining all the tables before the end of the day.

Week three brought new experiences and new skills to be learned. It was a good week, and after the weekend, we will be refreshed and ready for more.

Benches

Crew Members at work on benches

Staingin benches

Staining Benches

-Kyle Desrosiers (Kawuneeche Crew leader of the Week)

Shadow Mountain Crew

Checking in from the west side this week, otherwise known as the best side! On Sunday, we began our week by showing the Boulder crew the amazing village in which we live in here at Shadow Mountain. We went swimming, sunbathed by the dock, and then went out for some amazing and local pizza! It was quite the day.

On Monday, we went on an 11 mile trek through Doe Creek where we swamped and maintained the trail with our awesome Forestry friends, Kendrya and Amy. On the way up, we spotted a deserted and rustic truck in the middle of a pocket off the side of the trail. It was quite a random spot but nonetheless an awesome exploration opportunity.

Doe Creek.jpg

Will and Mary checking out the random and deserted truck found off of Doe Creek Trail.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we traveled to Kremmling in order to build log-checks in areas that have been heavily eroded by water at the Bill Miller Trailhead. The goal of the log checks was to slow down the water as it traveled down a rather flat trail in hopes of the water settling on the checks so the debris is able to settle and naturally refill the gullied out trail with soil.

Log Checks

Putting in some awesome log checks.

assorted people with log checks

Will, Curtis, Elise, Mary, and Forest Service Employee Andrew Otter

After our workday on Tuesday, the Shadow Mountain Crew was rewarded with a feast of homemade pasta alfredo with broccoli made by yours truly, Anna. We then had an in-depth discussion about proper nutrition and diet led by crew leader of the week, Elise. In honor of the summer solstice on Wednesday, a BBQ was hosted by other members of the village where we enjoyed the beginning of the beautiful summer season and indulged in a plethora of delicious food.

We were rewarded on Thursday with not only the presence of Geoff Elliot but also the task of climbing Devils Thumb, a nearly 12,000 foot mountain, for a routine maintenance run and with the goal of summiting in order to check up on a previous project and its durability. We were blessed with a beautiful morning which was fitting since it was Mary’s 20th birthday on Thursday! After escaping a tremendously brutal afternoon storm, we were rewarded with homemade cake and cheesecake in order to celebrate Mary’s birthday! The celebration continued on Friday when we were blessed with the arrival of various other RMC crews who wanted to check out our sweet setup and bring Mary further gifts of appreciation! It was overall a great and productive week and we are so excited to be going on our first hitch next week!

Devils thumb

Views from the top of the Devils Thumb hike! It was quite the climb but luckily there wasn’t too much snow along the way.

-Elise Parker (Shadow Mountain Crew Leader of the Week)

Boulder Crew

Good day dear reader. This week was a nice deviation from the, now normal, weekly rhythm we had formed. After an extended weekend of mountain biking, hot springing, and cold water swimming in Steamboat Springs, we returned back to Homestead Ned (the name we affectionately call our home/campsite just outside of Nederland, CO) by Tuesday evening. We were surprisingly quite vacationed-out by Tuesday evening and ready to get back in the working groove.

Upon waking up for work at 6am Wed morning we immediately wished for the long weekend back, but shook off our vacation brains and quickly returned to work mode. At about 6:30am that same morning I remembered that we were to begin our “leader of the week” part of the program. “Leader of the Week” is where a different crew member steps up each week to take on additional leadership tasks; therefore, Brendan was volun-told that fine morning that he was to get everyone in the car by 7am, get to work, and lead our week’s projects (spoiler alert: he passed with flying colors).

This week we were headed to the Rainbow Lakes to close down some trail widening, build new tread (the walking surface of a trail), and put in a few check steps (rock steps meant to fill in eroded trail with new sediment). To throw even more variation in the mix, our fearless leader Geoff Elliot (RMC-CC Manager) joined us to try out his trail legs as well as make sure we were all still alive and well. We spent the entirety of the day digging extremely rocky water drains and narrowing the crisscrossing trail from about 10 feet wide to 2-foot-wide single track. Hopefully you can see the huge difference from the before and after pictures.

Thursday we moved further up trail to begin work that was very similar to the previous day’s project. We were joined this day by the Indian Peaks Wilderness Alliance (IPWA) interns, Jake and John. Once again, the extra hands were much appreciated. Ally, Andrea, Ryan, Louisa, and Brendan all tackled building new tread and putting up a fantastic rock wall for most of the day while I popped an excessive amount of rocks from new trail with the interns further ahead. To be frank, we kicked some major butt that day and got a ton done.

Friday we finished up our work form the previous day and bumped further ahead to close down more social trails (un-official trails made by hikers), install rock steps, and re-route a stream off of the trail. We finally made it to the Rainbow Lakes that day with high hopes of seeing the dead moose mentioned by a passing hiker; unfortunately, we did not find said moose, but dang, if we didn’t build some beautiful rock steps.

As I’m writing this on Saturday, we have just completed day one of our two-day crosscut saw training course. Crosscut saws are essentially those big, two person saws that you imagine when you think of old-school loggers in the Pacific Northwest. According to the Wilderness Act, the use of mechanized devices are prohibited in wilderness areas, therefore, one must use old-school crosscut saws in place of chainsaws. Not going to lie, you feel pretty dang cool using them. Today was all classroom work at the District Ranger Office in Boulder, so, needless to say, we’re pretty excited to get into the field tomorrow and use the saws.

Week 3 (almost) down, and one more to go until midweek! It’s hard to believe that we have not slept under a roof for a month now, but so cool to see how normal it has become. And the trail goes on!

Duffin' it upHighwayROCKWALLSSwingingworking on tread

Until next time,

-Lucas McClish (Boulder Crew Leader)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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