Inaugural High School Leadership Corps!

Hi Everyone!

The last two weeks provided some new experiences to the Rocky Mountain Conservancy as we launched our new High School Leadership Corps! For those who are unfamiliar, this was an opportunity for 10 high school age students, all of which were from the Front Range of Colorado, to come up to live, work, and learn in Rocky Mountain National Park for 12 days. During these couple of weeks the HSLC crew members were exposed to several projects and different groups from both the National Park Service and the neighboring Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest. In addition, each project day was supplemented by a development activity. Whether it be journaling every evening, learning about natural resource careers, or developing leadership skills, each day the high school youth had a little time committed to personal growth along with conservation projects.

After settling in on the first day, our first project was spent working with the re-vegetation crew where we planted nearly 1000 native species across two days around the Moraine Park Discovery Center and pulled a bunch of Cheatgrass. The area was significantly disturbed by a water line project last summer and was in dire need of restoration. This was a learning experience for everyone as we learned how much goes into restoring native species to natural habitat.

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Crew member look on as they learn how to properly plant various native grasses and other plants.

For the second project, we worked with the volunteer office on what they like to call a Trail Adventure Clean-Up. For the project, 14 of us worked together to help clean up the area around Lumpy Ridge. Because of all the traffic Lumpy Ridge receives and the satellite nature of the trailhead, it is conducive to trash being left behind. We spent the afternoon broken up into three groups walking around the various trails and the parking lot using the aptly named “clompers” to pick up trash we found. During our time before we got hit by the typical Colorado afternoon storm dropping gumball sized hail and  picked up 12 pounds of trash which entailed wrappers, cans, the sole of a a boot, and one toy giraffe.

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Grace, Grace, and Kayla showing off all the trash they found.

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From left to right: Dalton, Luc, Zeke, Quinn and Geoff up Lumpy Ridge with the clompers and trash buckets.

We wrapped up the first week by learning about wildfire and how the park works to mitigate fire danger naturally. One way fire mitigation occurs in Rocky is by  mechanically building slash piles. Slash piles are cone like structures that the fire crew uses to gather all of the fallen trees or branches in one central location to help prevent fires from moving too quickly through an area. Once these piles are constructed during the summer, the fire crew will utilize the wet and cold winter to manually burn them in order to mitigate future fires in the park. Getting to help with this project was fun as we turned it into a competition of who built the nicest piles would get first dibs on showering. Turns out all four of the piles we built were very sturdy so it was a toss up.

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Leader Geoff and crew member Luc working together to stabilize the slash pile.

 

 

Over the weekend, we stepped away from conservation work and explored some of the beauty Rocky Mountain National Park had to offer. This included traveling to the west side for a short hike, visiting the town of Grand Lake, and doing a sunset hike up to Dream Lake.

For the second week, we got to spend time doing both trail construction and maintenance with crews from the Canyon Lakes Ranger District of the Roosevelt National Forest, the the trails shop in RMNP,  Poudre Wilderness Volunteers, and Headwaters Trail Alliance all of which are representatives of either the Forest Service or the National Park Service. During our time working with these groups we got a lot of work done! For two days we spent time withe the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers and Canyon Lakes Ranger District on the Lions Gulch trail. This is one of the trails that was significantly affected by the 2013 floods. The two days we spent on Lions gulch we were able to finish a ton of work. This included:

  • Clearing three tree stumps from new trail
  • Felling two trees to create corridor
  • Installing five check steps
  • Constructing two retaining walls
  • Building three horse ramps
  • Digging two drains
  • Cutting 100 feet of new tread
  • Removing one large metal pipe deposited by floodwater on the trail

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On the next day we worked alongside the Rocky Mountain National Park trail crew as well as the  Conservancy’s Conservation Corps. On this day we helped with clearing brush from the trail corridor and covering up social trails that people had created over the years. This meant a lot of lopping of smaller trees and branches while also using fallen trees or logs around the area to cover those old trails. While this was much different work than we had done the couple days before everyone was very happy about the seven miles of trail we covered and getting to meet some new people and just generally getting to work in the park! One of the teams on trail even saw a moose!

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A mix of the HSLC and the RMC-CC at Bierstadt Lake.

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Grace moving some dead trees onto a social trail.

For our last project day, we traveled to the Fraser Valley to work on the Chainsaw Trail with the Headwaters Trails Alliance. The Chainsaw Trail is a unique trail to get to work on because it is part of a very popular mountain bike trails system in the area. This project was seen as frustrating yet fun as we were tasked with raising an existing board walk out of the mud, the extending it another 20 feet, and adding another 20 feet to the end with a turnpike. This took a lot of patience and some good hammering skills as we added 15 more boards each with four nine inch nails in them. Once we finished the boardwalk we focused our attention to the turnpike. The turnpike was interesting because we were responsible for installing another drain that ran through a culvert. A culvert  is a tube used to move water underneath the turnpike to prevent more water running into the newly fixed trail.

We finished up the last day of work with a stop at Dairy King in Grand Lake on our way back over to Moraine Park to learn about the old fur trappers of the area and make s’mores.

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Luke, Grace, an Kayla work to hammer in the boardwalk.

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The final product holding everyone up!

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Just a little s’more time together.

This being the first summer of the Rocky Mountain Conservancy hosting the High School Leadership Corps I think everyone involved had a great learning experience. Whether it was being in charge of waking everyone up for work or sleeping in a tent for the first time, we gained valuable memories and experiences that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. Thanks to the parents, crew members, and to those whose projects we were able to assist with. We look forward to the opportunity to continue this program for years to come!

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The gang at the East Inlet! From Left to Right: Jordan, Brandon, Luc, Grace, Curtis, Zeke, Kayla, Grace, Quinn, and Dalton.

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After two long weeks, the parents and the crew members are reunited!

Last but certainly not least, for all of you driving around with Rocky Mountain National Park license plates in Colorado, you will be excited to know you helped provide this amazing opportunity through your donation to the Park!

Thanks for checking in on this exciting new program and have an excellent rest of your summer!

-Tommy Egland (High School Leadership Corps Leader)

 

 

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Crew Spotlight: Shadow Mountain Crew

MegEllen Kimmett (Shadow Mountain Crew Leader)

Bowen Pass

Bowen Pass

This past summer I was lucky enough to spend four days in the backcountry doing 4th of July patrols in the Never Summers Wilderness with two other crew members. We were able to see three beautiful lakes. My favorite part of the patrol was scattering campfire scars and destroying illegal campsites. It was a different kind of service that felt incredibly rewarding. The physical aspect of this trip was also some of the most difficult backpacking I have ever done and at the end of every work day, dinner never tasted so good and felt so well deserving! This has easily been my favorite memory of the summer.
Alongside with my favorite memory, I have another awesome experience that includes my favorite work project. This was being a part of clearing the knight ridge trail that is a 3 mile section of the CDT. It was the most amazing feeling seeing two through hikers pass by and give us the biggest thank yous for allowing them to stay on trail.

Amy Sullivan (Shadow Mountain Crew Member)

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This is a photo of me trudging through the tundra atop Mt. Ida, on a weekend hike we took in the park. In the background are the Never Summers, which are part of the Sulphur Ranger District of the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest. I like this photo because it shows what a vast and beautiful area we got to work around this summer, and how small we are in comparison.

One of my favorite memories from this summer is each time we had to hang our food during our backcountry hitches. With anywhere from 3 to 15 people in our camp, It was a difficult task to find trees capable of holding all of our food without sagging. We always had a laugh trying to untangle miles of paracord and make sure our food was “safe”.

My favorite work project of the summer was our last hitch, on the Devil’s Thumb trail in the western Indian Peaks Wilderness. Working with another conservation corps (the RMYC) as well as a packstring of mules was a really unique experience that I will not soon forget! We did a lot of really valuable work on the trail that will hopefully hold up for many years to come. Also, it was definitely one of the most beautiful work sites we were in, given its location on the continental divide.

Jordan Carper (Shadow Mountain Crew Member)

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The most unique and spectacularly beautiful work site we found ourselves in this summer was on the Devil’s Thumb trail. For five days and four nights we camped at the base of an alpine bowl that led up a steep incline to Devil’s Thumb Pass. We built check dams, cleared the path of imposing willows, built new tread, and worked with the USFS specialty stock string. Our tents were set up at tree line and our worksite was in the high alpine region that consisted of sweeping views of both Grand and Boulder counties. The alpenglow against the cirque at dusk was so vivid and dramatic that it led our supervisor to proclaim: “This is the most beautiful place I have ever played dominoes.”

The memory of this season that I hold in highest regard is when the wilderness trail crew accompanied on a steep couloir climb after a longs days work on Columbine Lake Trail. The climb was slick, vegetated, and very, very high off the valley floor; I was frightened nearly the entire way up. I remember being so extremely relieved and proud of myself upon reaching the top and seeing the lake. Nothing like a severe mountain pitch scramble to bring out your fear of heights.

Rachel Dorencz (Shadow Mountain Crew Member)

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My favorite memory from the season was working with the Rocky Mountain
Specialty Packstring on our final hitch to Devil’s Thumb. We had the
opportunity to observe the lively mules and their packer at work as
they carried buckets of rock up and down the beautiful tundra
landscape. The mules kept us on our toes, and were often caught
sneaking away from camp with tortillas hanging from their mouths . On
the final day, the mule’s packer let me sit on top of a mule and
observe the world from a totally new perspective.

My favorite camp site was situated beside Caribou Pass during our
Fourth of July patrol of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. When we first
approached the pass to descend to camp, we were sidetracked by a game
trail and ended up walking in the wrong direction. Later, once we set
off on the correct trail, we came across snow fields stretched out
across the entire trail. It appeared the only way to get safely down
the pass was to scramble straight down the rocky talus slope to camp.
Once we arrived, the views of the pass and the nearby Caribou Lake
were astounding.

Blake Crossland (Shadow Mountain Crew Member)

BC

This is my favorite photo of the season simply because it captures how spectacular of a place we got to work in this summer. The photo was taken in the Indian Peaks near Crater Lake on our crews Fourth of July backcountry patrols, during which my team spent the week decommissioning illegal campsites and conducting general trail maintenance in the area.

My favorite memory of the season actually happened the night before this photo was taken. We spent the day clearing a massive tree off of the Pawnee Pass trail a few miles from Crater Lake. The weather was beautiful all day and there wasn’t a drop of rain- that is until our hike back to camp. It started to rain about a half mile from Crater Lake and it continued to rain harder and harder until it finally turned into marble size hail as we arrived at our campsite. We were drenched head to toe and took shelter from the hail for the next 20 minutes or so under some skimpy subalpine trees. Anyone else might have found themselves slightly miserable in such conditions, but we could help but to laugh and make the best of it. The sky finally cleared and left an inch of hail on the ground and a massive puddle under our tent, which was nothing a simple drain and hot dinner couldn’t fix.

My favorite work project of the year was our final backcountry hitch near Devil’s Thumb to restore a severely eroded portion of the Continental Divide Trail. It was a particularly memorable project because we got to work above tree line for the entirety of the trip with amazing views of the Fraser Valley. We also got to work with a specialty pack string of mules that helped us with much of the project’s heavy lifting. By the end of the week the trail showed incredible improvements and left us feeling extremely satisfied with the work we’d done and the skills we’d acquired throughout the season.

Crew Spotlight: Boulder Crew

Reid Grinspoon (Boulder Crew Leader)

My home for the summer

My home for the summer

(Pictured above is my home for basically all of this summer).

My favorite project this summer, by far, was our backcountry hitch to fix a bridge on the Buchanan Pass Trail. The 8 days we spent in the backcountry were hard and physical, but the outcome was so satisfying. We knocked out our bridge in four days and got to spend the rest of our time exploring and improving the beautiful trails just south of Rocky Mountain National Park in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Our crew really came together during these 8 days, and the hitch was filled with laughter, delicious camp food, and some seriously hard work. Our 8 day hitch was the best possible way to end our summer, and I cannot wait to come back and show people the bridge I built in the wilderness.

Andrew Martin (Boulder Crew Member)

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My true highlight of the season was having access to such amazing public lands and seeing as much as I could of those lands with my crew. The crew was a highlight as well, and I couldn’t have hoped for a more friendly, as well as adventurous group to be around for the summer, and hopefully on adventures in the future. As far as projects, I was pleased with our boardwalk and turnpike near Buchanan pass which I was able to proudly show my parents and girlfriend.

Dana Chafetz (Boulder Crew Member)

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Favorite work project: We had an eight day backcountry hitch where we camped in the wilderness and built a bridge. The trails around us were beautiful. The project we the most rewarding and we got to see a few hikers use our work. We really got to appreciate the work that goes into such a simple structure because we weren’t allowed to used mechanized equipment to persevere the wilderness.

Favorite Memory: We had just finished a day of work and we were at red deer lake, a beautiful lake in the mountains by glaciers. Almost everyone jumped in and some of the crew fished (and caught the first fish of the summer). It was super fun and a great way to end the day.

Chivithaya (Chivi) Xiong (Boulder Crew Member)

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This photo was taken at Backcountry Pizza the day we returned from our eight day backcountry hitch. The distorted picture shows us devouring the much anticipated meal. The eight day hitch was tough, but the end result of our hard work made it all worth it.

One of my favorite memories was walking on the bridge that took us five days to build. The feeling of accomplishment was priceless. The bridge was definitely my favorite project.

James “Jimmy Bobby” Hanks (Boulder Crew Member)

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This summer has been full of great memories and projects that will be on my mind forever and also serve as tokens to exemplify the great life I am so privileged to experience! The Boulder crew has been very close the whole season, so the best memory I have with the crew has to be when we were together on the eight-day backcountry hitch, camping and completing an awesome project! The photo submitted was shot on the last day of the hitch at the bottom of Elk Tooth Mountain, where we hiked with our Forest Service supervisors and now friends, Paul and Cait, to have a great, last hike together as a trail crew! The laughter of the group filled the air, and the realization that the summer was coming to an end was a little disheartening, but I’ve been told that the great moments often come to an end but always assimilate in your conscience as a great experience! The sturdy backcountry bridge, which we built in a rather quick three and a half days on the hitch, is also my favorite project because we used teamwork and the skills we have learned throughout the season to construct a long lasting structure that will aid adventurous hikers looking for a wilderness experience for many years to come. Our crew and myself are very proud of our work this summer, and I love the fact that this internship opportunity has improved my ability to work as a team and also my character!

Annie Makuch (Boulder Crew Member)

Favorite picture:

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Top of James peak. This very accurately describes the dynamic of our crew.

Favorite project: obviously our big projects, such as the bridge and Boardwalk, were fun to work on and we used as a template to show off our skills. However, sometimes the little projects are the most impactful. My absolute favorite project was a culvert that my USFS supervisor Cait and I worked to reset. It turned out to be incredibly difficult, taking two days to complete, but once it was done the sense of pride and accomplishment was completely worth it..

Favorite memory: at the end of the 8 day hitch, we were all exhausted, yet plowed our way through the 5 miles hike…with out stopping. When I arrived at our meeting spot, I was greeted by sweaty, smiling faces and the promise of pizza and wings. The car ride back was giddy and exhilarating, as we realized we just did an incredibly difficult hitch with ease. It made me realize how strong our crew was and how much we had grown as a team.

Crew Spotlight: Kawuneeche Crew

Margaret Johnson (Kawuneeche Crew Leader)

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My favorite work project by far this summer has been the Little Buckaroo Barn. It was a new experience for me, doing construction and carpentry on historical buildings, and also working in one place for an extended time. I loved seeing the changes in the valley over the last two months, and since the barn is nestled right in the middle of Kawuneeche valley at the base of the Never Summer Mountains, it was the perfect place to witness the sequence of wildflowers blooming in the meadow and the ebb and flow of the Colorado River.

My favorite memory of the entire summer would have to be backpacking in the Never Summers with Jenna and Kris the weekend of the blue moon. It was Kris’ first backpacking experience, which was awesome to be a part of, and we had a spectacular camp site for watching the moon rise in a clear sky. We had been planning and dreaming of hiking into the bowl we could see everyday on our drive to work, and we finally made it into that gorgeous cirque.

Kristina Kurelja (Kawuneeche Crew Member)

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It was taken on my first backpacking trip, when Margaret, Jenna and I started at the Bowen-Baker Trailhead and hiked a few miles into the Never Summer Wilderness to camp, then hiked to Parika Lake the next day. It also happened to be the night of the Blue Moon, or the second full moon of the month. After I started a fire, we sat and watched the moon rise like the sun over the Kawuneeche Valley. It was absolutely gorgeous, and we slept under the stars and the moon to fully appreciate its beauty. This experience was a close second to my favorite memory of the summer.

My favorite project would have to be the Little Buckaroo Barn. It was my favorite because, well, we were the work crew. Just the six of us.

We had some assistance from our supervisors, but it was primarily putting their advice and teachings into our own work. The satisfaction that we were there to experience every bit of the progress and finally its completion was unbelievably rewarding. With no construction or carpentry experience, we were able to complete a project our supervisors didn’t even think we could finish. It was sad too, knowing that our work there was done. I loved working at the barn, it was unbelievably picturesque with the old barn itself, the Never Summer range as a backdrop, the abundant moose, the colorful wildflowers, the Little Colorado River weaving just beside us…it was the most breathtaking office I can imagine.

My favorite memory of the summer was probably one of our trips to Winter Park for free music. Most of our crew was able to go, and we listened to the Boogie Boys, a Polish cover band that put on one of the best free concerts I’ve ever been to. I got Dhante and Joe to go up to the stage with me and we had a blast dancing and singing with the band, surrounded by lots of retirees having the time of their lives. It was so much fun, and I thought we bonded quite a bit over the experience.

Logan Douglas (Kawuneeche Crew Member)

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The first day at Lake Irene we had to scoop snow from the back of the building and I went to a tall part in the snow and dug straight down. I kept digging and digging and digging. Finally, I hit the bottom and found some dirt. So I jumped down in the whole. Needless to say the whole was deeper than I expected. I am about 6’ 3” and about 6’ 4” tall in the boots i was wearing and my head was barely sticking out.

LD_workMy favorite work location was Lake Irene.  I loved Lake Irene because it was a beautiful aegean and had nice cool air so it wasn’t too hot.  I also liked it because there were tons of tourists and they all wanted to talk.  I am not a very shy person so it was always fun for me to tell people what we were doing.  Also, I liked using power tools and putting up the cedar shingles….one by one.

LD_memoryMy favorite memory was working with the past program.  Rich (man on the right) was from Cape Cod and he was a very funny man and was hard working.  Rich was also very patient and showed us his way of doing stuff. Also, he taught us the “Cape Cod Cut.”  It turned out to be just a normal cut but we went along with it.  When we worked with the past program, there were many laughs and fun times.

Dhante Stroud (Kawuneeche Crew Member)

We encircled our worksite through a meadow of dew frosted grasses, an elusive rainbow arched over our dirt path allowing us to peer at the historic Little Buckaroo Barn it its natural state, so primitive, so isolate, and so hauntingly beautiful.

We encircled our worksite through a meadow of dew frosted grasses, an elusive rainbow arched over our dirt path allowing us to peer at the historic Little Buckaroo Barn it its natural state, so primitive, so isolate, and so hauntingly beautiful.

Favorite ProjectAs part of the Kawuneeche Crew I had the opportunity to aide in the restoration of two historic buildings throughout the summer season, a 1926 CCC Mess Hall and the Little Buckaroo Barn built in 1942. The barn was definitely my favorite of the two due to the fact that it resides in proposed wilderness land and therefore must be treated as wilderness, meaning no mechanized tools were allowed to be used during restoration. This detail added a fair amount of struggle (and usage of a few choice words) in causing the crew to hand carry all materials in each day and rely on pure carpentry skills to restore the building to a preserved state. Our jobs were to replace the three-tab asphalt roof, many rotten wood siding panels, almost all of the rafter tails that hung out past the roof edge which had been degraded by the elements, and improve overall stability of the barn. By far my favorite lunch spot the barn sits in a meadow of wildflowers where animal life crosses at all hours of the day. Both a challenge and a masterpiece the barn was completed way ahead of schedule.

Favorite MemoryMy summer working with the Rocky Mountain Conservancy is full of many memories. My favorite experience with the Kawuneeche Crew was a yoga lesson taught by Jenna Mulligan, a fellow crew member, where in which we all stretched our bodies in strange new ways. Jenna adjusted our form and we laughed as we all attempted to hold our balance, many of us slipping on the carpeted floor. After moaning and groaning we all lay in savasana, our final resting state feeling joined as a group in euphoric content.

Jenna Mulligan (Kawuneeche Crew Member)

JM

My favorite photo is from a backpacking trip up to Parika Lake on the last weekend in the west side of the park. We camped down in Bowen gulch and had a front row seat for a beautiful blue moon.

My favorite work project was the cedar shake shingling and log replacement at the Lake Irene mess hall. This work was really detailed, and our speed and quality of work improved as we got higher and higher on the roof. During the shingle removal, we could see through to the inside of the cabin and the curtains and dressers that were left behind. By the end of the project, the building looked polished and the improvements were really evident.

My favorite memory from the year was the hike that the entire crew took up to the continental divide past Millner Pass. All six of us made it up to the tundra, and it was a blast to spend some time all together on the trail.

Joe Cordova (Kawuneeche Crew Member)

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Favorite project: Working on the “Little Buckaroo Barn” because this property was in proposed wilderness, which for the crew meant no power tools or vehicles allowed. This was a challenge for us because we had been used to mechanical means in our other projects. The best thing was being able to appreciate how things were done in a time not that long ago, by using a hand drill and hand sawing everything was really cool!

Favorite memory: Climbing Longs Peak with the Conservancy. Being at the top, I felt nothing but freedom and accomplishment. Also, Being at the end of the picnic and talking to all of our members who were just so happy to find out how our summer was and learn about all of our projects. They really loved the posters that all the crews had made showcasing their experiences, which really made the day that much better for me seeing how much they appreciate our work.

Crew Spotlight: Estes Crew

Bryce Goldade (Estes Crew Leader)

Favorite Picture:

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This is a photo of us working on a culvert at Lilly Lake. It is my favorite photo because to begin with, we could not get any of the logs to line up, fit in, or lay the way we wished around the culvert. Taking much longer than expected, after we took some time to clear our minds and think of new ways to attack this project, we all worked together to compress the logs together with rock bars and ratchet straps. It was a struggle at first, but we figured out the project together.

My favorite work project was the two day Lawn Lake trail maintenance runs. We maintained the 16 mile trail beginning at Lawn Lake trail head, ending at the lumpy ridge trail head. Being a returner from last year, I had done this trail before. Last year we did the 15 mile run, with 12 people, and we had to hike out early, not finishing the last 3-5 miles of trail. Doing the run this year, with 6 crew members as opposed to 12, we finished the whole trail, and that’s when I knew, this crew was dedicated, for real, and can do great things when we are focused.

My favorite memory from the year was a recreational hike that about 8 of the members did through the lion lakes, up hourglass ridge, up to mount Alice. As we got closer and closer to Alice, we realized the mountain wasn’t what we expected. On either side of the mountain there were straight vertical cliffs, with in between a less vertical section, maybe a 70 degree angle scramble that was seemingly the only way to ascend. Looking nearly impossible and scary, we attacked it and had no issues making it up the climb, where the top was very rewarding.

Andrea Dumais (Estes Crew Member)

Favorite Picture:

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I am really passionate about environmental education, and I would love to pursue that as a career in the future. Some kids walked by while we were rehabbing a site, and we helped them plant a few things. The parents were excited to bring the kids back in a few years to look at the plants. This photo reminds me of the positive impact we can have on kids and their outlook on the environment around them.

My favorite memory is from our last day of work. We did a 17 mile maintenance run to lost lake. Everyone was in a great mood, and it was a perfect way to end the season. It helped me reflect on everything we did, and appreciate how great of a summer it was. I’m so thankful I got to spend my summer with my crew, as well as Dave and Matt from NPS.

My favorite work project of the year was working on the trail at cow creek. We got to work with llamas, which was a blast. It was also amazing to see the change in the trail from start to finish. The trail is a busy one, and our work made it much more accessible. I learned a lot of new skills on this project as well, including how to put log checks in, and how to retread a trail.

Chandler Eaton (Estes Crew Member)

Favorite Picture:

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This is my favorite photo. Crew Leader Bryce is standing over Arrowhead Lake, which seems so untouchable from Trail Ridge but here Bryce has conquered it.

My favorite memory of the summer has been volunteering on Fridays in the Back Country Office of the park. It was wonderful working one on one with visitors and becoming closer with park employees.

My favorite part of work was maintenance runs on the trails. We explored so many trails together as a crew and enhanced the hikers’ experiences.

Jeremy McDowell (Estes Crew Member)

Favorite Picture:

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This is my favorite photo because I think it sums up the camaraderie we had on the Estes crew this summer. We always worked very well as a team and we could make practically whatever situation we were in humorous. In this picture we were working with the park service on a bridge that was washed away by flooding. We had to collect large rocks in order to make the abutment for the bridge. It is hard work but we we’re laughing and joking through it practically the whole day.

My favorite memory this year was the family dinners our crew had every week. Every week, the guys on the crew would cook on Mondays, and the girls would cook on Wednesdays. It was a great way to save money on food and to get more variety in our diet. We came up with some very interesting culinary creations such as grilled cheese doughnuts. Overall, I feel like the Estes crew bonded and made fantastic memories by sharing meals with each other twice a week.

My favorite work project this year was working at Tuxedo Park with the Park Service’s restoration crew. The area had been disturbed by the construction of a shuttle bus shelter. We started off by removing any invasive species in the disturbed area. We then planted a variety of native plants for the rest of the week. It was amazing to see the area get a second chance and I think one could get the feeling that they were making a positive impact on the Park. It was very educational to learn new native species of plants. Since I was assistant crew leader that week, I got to do an educational presentation on edible and medicinal plants that are found in Tuxedo Park. I really enjoyed talking about these amazing plants and their uses throughout history and in modern herbal medicine.

Miranda Thompson (Estes Crew Member)

Favorite Picture:

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This was probably my favorite work photo. This was one of the most fun days of work along with feeling like we actually got a lot of work done, working to clear a pile of logs away where a landslide washed out a trail. We worked really hard as a team that day rather than just digging drains individually.

My favorite work project was actually Lily Lake. I know a lot of people seemed to not like it because it was so front country and Lily Lake isn’t as glamorous as doing all 15 miles of Lawn Lake. But I thought it was an extremely worthwhile project that required several different skill sets and lots of problem solving as well as teamwork. So it wasn’t necessarily as fun as a maintenance run but I thought it was the most rewarding

My favorite memory was the Ida trip. It wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t fun the whole time but I still liked hanging out as just the Estes crew in the wilderness.

Derek (Blue) Moon (Estes Crew Member)

Favorite Picture:

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My favorite photo was us at the top of Forrest Canyon after a long, wet, and tiring overnight trip. It was the hardest I ever worked for a photo.

My favorite work projects were Maintenance runs/opening runs. It is great to have a week of work where you work and hike at the same time

My favorite memory was jumping into some of the lakes we hiked to, including lawn lake and lost lake. They were cold, but always refreshing and fun to look at a map and point to where I have swam.

Crew Spotlight: Red Feather Crew

Tommy Egland (Red Feather Crew Leader)

Favorite Picture:

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This photo is from the Comanche Peak wilderness week. And is from the third day on the hitch where when we were on the Browns Lake trail.

My favorite project this summer was the working on the Killpecker Trail. This was my favorite trail this summer because of the peak we were able to get on top of. We were able to look out over the whole Red Feather area and we got to the top of one of the tallest peaks in the area. It was nice to have a trail that went to a view rather than end at a random spot or at a road. This was also the most difficult trail in the area by far and it was nice to have a challenging day on trail.

My Favorite memory from the summer would have to be from the first week. We went to Rattlesnake Canyon outside Fruita and Grand Junction and attempted to go on a backpacking trip. This ideas was thwarted however by the fact there was no water, so even though we ran out of water we made it to the arches and eventually hiked out and a seven mile day turned into a 14 mile day with some of the best views I have ever seen.

Maggie Bolger (Red Feather Crew Member)

Favorite Picture:

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Favorite memory: My favorite part of my experience this summer was getting to know my crew over the few months that we spent working and living together. I especially enjoyed our time together after work watching movies, having fires, making food for my crew and walking down to West Lake to fish and watch the sun set.

Favorite work Project: One of my favorite projects this summer was when we went back to North Lone Pine to clear the nine down trees that we left. We finally got to put our cross cutting skills to use. I enjoy using the cross cut because it takes team work and it is a task that takes thinking through and strategy.

John Lunzer (Red Feather Crew Member)

Favorite Picture:

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Favorite picture: Picture of me and Maggie after we finished cross cutting the huge tree at the end of the lone pine trail.

Favorite moment: Second trip to lady moon when we were walking through the huge field. The wind was blowing the grass and the surrounding landscape was incredible. Made me realize how happy I was to be there.

Favorite work location: Swamp creek trail. Finally felt like we were getting out there and got to enjoy the trail in the middle of nowhere. The solitude was a nice change and the scenery was awesome.

Cortney Dodge (Red Feather Crew)

Favorite picture:

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Crossing the continental divide on top of flattop mountain then to the North Inlet trail to go camping in Grand Lake for the Fourth of July weekend. At the time it was the longest hike I had ever done and the most satisfying at the end of the day to finally take off my boots, eat an entire pizza myself, and sleep

Favorite memory: One weekend I went backpacking with a few members of the Estes crew. We trekked 6 miles and over 3,000 vertical feet up to the Boulderfield on Long’s peak. Exhausted when we arrived, one of our tent poles snapped while we were setting up at 9:00 pm. Our tent was in rough shape and would have collapsed had the wearer been anything but perfect. Luckily the night remained clear despite predicted storms at 11:00 pm.  In the morning we picked our way through the boulders to summit Storm Peak and then Mt. Lady Washington to get some unique views of the park. Afterwards we went down the other side of Mt. Lady Washington to Chasm Lake. The down climb  was the most sketchy and exciting thing I’ve ever done. Rocks and skree were shifting beneath my feet, threatening to send me into the lake below. You had to constantly think about your next move and the two hour ordeal was overwhelmingly mentally taxing. Looking back up the slope we came down made my head spin with awe and a fresh, profound respect for the Mountain.

Favorite work experience: Working backcountry in the Comanche Peak Wilderness with the Rawah Crew was without  a doubt my favorite work experience. I had never been backcountry before and up until that point, I had a mild fear of it. But camping next to the reservoir  on forest service land, pumping water every morning and working/exploring the alpine trails in the area quickly whipped away all my fear. The trails themselves were incredible, with views of the Rawah Wilderness as well as several of the mountains in Red Feather where we had been working all summer. One day after work a few of us summited a rolling peak above tree line to get a 360 panoramic of the Mummy Range, Rocky (we even saw trail ridge road on one of the mountains!), the Never Summer range, the Rawah Wilderness, the Poudre Canyon, Red Feather, and way off in the distance, a mountain range in Wyoming. Before working there I had no idea that such a compete view of northern Colorado’s mountains existed, and the memories I made camping and working on the trail with our two crews will stick with me for a lifetime.

Galen Elisha (Red Feather Crew Member)

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Favorite memory: On the Fourth of July weekend this year I hiked up and over the continental divide, from Estes Park to Grand Lake, for a backpacking trip.  This hike was 18 miles and required I bring at least 40 pounds of gear with me.  A mixing of the RMC’s Estes crew and Red Feather Lakes crew made the journey. The trip consisted of several obstacles to overcome.  The first being that, on the morning before the journey I had discovered my backpack had a torn shoulder strap.  Being the resourceful type (sort of) I grabbed my 11th backpacking essential (duct tape) and made some emergency repairs.  These repairs were quick and not the most well oriented, but they more or less worked.  The only issue with them was that it left my bag hopelessly unbalanced, meaning I had to put in much more effort on balancing my pack on my shoulders than hiking.  This did slow me down, but I persevered and pushed through.

My second challenge for the day was the honey (for my sandwiches) spilling on the inside of my bag.  This left most of my gear a sticky mess.  While this wasn’t much of an obstacle for hiking it certainly didn’t help morale.  This leaves the final obstacle for hike, a very large bull elk right in the middle of the trail.  The elk remained on trail for a solid 45 minutes.  He was a rather inspiring sight; however his presence put the trail on hold and put our crew behind schedule (a problem when your schedule includes hiking for 9 hours, just hoping for the chance to have a feast in Grand Lake).

Combining all three of these obstacles, I was certainly hurting at the end of the hike.  However every ache and pain was worth it.  I had such a sense of accomplishment and pride.  I knew I had done something great and felt incredible.  We all collapsed at the end of our trail and basked in the glow of our achievement.  To finalize our goal we worked up the last of our strength, got up, and strolled into to town to find some of the best pizza of our lives (more so from the exhaustion than the pizza itself, but nevertheless it was amazing)

Favorite work experience: The Comanche Peak Wilderness was, without a doubt, the best experience of the summer.  That week will forever remain as a vivid memory etched into the back of my skull.  Working for the Rocky Mountain Conservancy resulted in a lot of scenic views and that is what made the job worth all of the sweat and hard labor.  The second to last week of the internship the Rawah and Red Feather Lakes crews collaborated on a back country hitch in the Comanche Peak Wilderness and I was lucky enough to join this expedition.  All around me was lush forest, majestic views, and fresh air.  Out of all of these views, one stands above the rest.

On the Wednesday of that week the crews went to work the Browns lake trail.  The trail took a steady ascent past Browns Lake into the alpine tundra. By following this trail, the tundra pointed to a peak that stood above a wide open valley.  Without hesitation we continued working the trail, knowing we would be rewarded heavily at the summit.  Once on top we were gifted with a view like no other.  The summit allowed us a three hundred sixty degree view, where we could see the Rawah Mountains, the Bald Peaks, the Mummy Mountain Range, and Rocky Mountain National Park.  It was like standing above giants and existing on a plain of existence that is incomparable to others.

As far as the eye could see, there were picturesque mountains that were so awe inspiring that everything else seemed to fade away.  The pain in my legs was but a distant memory. The cold wind against my face felt distant and unimportant.  Every one fell quiet and just enjoyed ourselves.  This was the kind of view that leaves the mind blank, except for an extreme sense of joy and an overwhelming feeling of just how lucky one person can be.  This view was by far my favorite experience while working.

Dominic Rickicki (Red Feather Crew Member)

Favorite Picture:

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My favorite memory from the summer is going out on a backcountry hitch wth the Rawah crew. We spent a lot of time with them throughout the summer because they were so close to us and we also did our training with them. We became so close in fact that we created the name “Redwah” as if our crews were one. During that hitch we were able to cover a lot of miles of trail and drain a lot of muddy sections of trail, all while keeping our sense of humor and having a great time.

My favorite project from this summer was the turnpike we built on the Mt. Margaret trail in Red Feather. It was one of the first projects that we had done, but despite our inexperience we fixed a heavily damaged section of trail. About a month and a half after completing the turnpike I went on a bike ride down the trail after work and was pleased to see it had settled and was holding up to a lot of abuse from stock and cattle.