2018 Season Photos

The Corps season wrapped up just over two weeks ago. As we clean gear to put it away for the season, we have the chance to look back and remember all of the trails maintained, structures restored and built, and lives changed. Take a moment to check out some of these highlights from the season!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Stay tuned as we prepare reports on the impacts to the trail systems and public lands, as well as the AmeriCorps members that participated this summer!

-Geoff Elliot (Director of Conservation

Advertisements

In the Field: Week 8 (Last Week)

The Boulder Crew finished up the season on hitch in our favorite spot- Pawnee Pass! The consistent pattern of rain from last week came to an end, and we were greeted with clear skies all week. The sunshine made work infinitely more enjoyable! Our tasks for the week consisted of continuing to clear the trail of large rocks, roots, and other obstacles to make it smooth and beautiful, as well as easier to walk on. Using rock bars to remove boulders from the trail is no easy feat, but Boulder Crew has become quite proficient at it.

ClearedTrail_BoulderCrew

Freshly cleared trail- all shiny and new!

Then, we installed many more rock check-steps and water bars into the newly cleared trail to control water flow and mitigate erosion. Setting rocks into the trail can be frustrating and tedious, but the struggles are worthwhile after a structure is complete.

BreakTime_BoulderCrew

Break time!

While we may not be professional trail workers yet, the whole crew has made significant progress in rock work throughout our season, as well as gained some serious muscle! It is safe to say that all of us were heartbroken to be finished with such rewarding work, as well as to be leaving such a beautiful place.

LakeIsabelle_BoulderCrew

Goodbye, Pawnee Pass!

Peace from Boulder Crew!

-Charlotte (Crew Leader of the Week)

We did it! After many weeks on the Aspen Brook Trail, the Estes Crew has finally wrapped up a variety of projects that help make up the new trail. Thoughout this project, we’ve come to know many wonderful trail crew members including a variety of unique volunteers and conservation crews. We’ve spent time managing NPS pack horses, controlling and surveying invasive species, and taking part in several outdoor adventures.

IMG_0539

Estes Crew 2018

 

IMG_0547

Rock wall construction – After

I’m very grateful for all the time that we have alongside each other, growing together, testing one another, laughing as we make our dad jokes. This season will be missed, but I know that we are all encouraged to keep moving forward on to greater opportunities, things such as education, peace corps, new and exciting jobs, and other leadership rolls. Hopefuly we will all see each other again in the near future so we can then share our stories.

IMG_0533

Rock wall construction 1.0

-Curtis (Crew Leader)

Moraine Crew

For the past couple of weeks, we have built a solar shower, and afterwards, we began to build a turnpike that went from the parking lot, and then split to go to the nearby bathrooms and the solar shower. On Monday, July 30th, we put more crusher on top of the crusher that was already there, and began to really solidify this turnpike. Some people shovelled from a pile of crusher and put them into wheelbarrows, then carrying it and piling it onto a place on the turnpike that needed it. Others raked the crusher in places that were too low, and overall, just adding another layer of it since it was needed. Once it seemed level enough, one person would water the turnpike to make sure it was wet enough so it could be tamped down correctly and then another person got the plate compactor and tamped down the crusher. Once it dried, it began to truly look like a turnpike!

After the solar shower was completed, we shifted our focus to restoring a rotted sill log on the Glacier Basin Ranger Station. This was supposed to be one of our bigger projects of the year, but unfortunate time constraints only afforded us a few days to work on it. Regardless, our last week was spent under careful guidance from shop foreman Chuck Tubb striping replacement logs of bark, fitting replacement crowns, and hollowing out the rotted log for replacement. While we only had a few days working at the Ranger Station, our crew really hit the ground running. In true historical preservation style, we spent our days working hard with draw knives, timberslicks, axes, and chisels to tackle the prep work that would proceed the log’s actual replacement.

It was also during this time the crew received unexpected praise for their work on the solar shower. A ceremony organized by the Glacier Basin volunteer camp host recognized the project shop for their hard work with a ribbon cutting and barbeque attended by both park employees and campers.

Spirits were high during the final days of work, despite the sadness of leaving. Project Crew shirts were made up, commemorating our season of hard work and the Moraine crew departed the shop for the final time on Thursday afternoon with heads held high.

-Max (Crew Leader of the Week)

Rawah Crew

We wrapped up our last week of work Rawah style on the McIntyre Trail. Earlier in the season, we worked on McIntyre for a day and got about 4.5 miles in: it was a day full of accomplishment and hard work! On Monday, we spent most of the day hiking to the junction of McIntyre. Even though it was a tiring day for everyone, we did not give up and kept hiking up until we found a beautiful meadow that lead up to a nice woody area where we set up camp. After we set up camp, we decided to wrap up the day with some fun lessons! There were three different lessons that were all fun, but we also learned a lot. Zoe did her lesson on how to French braid hair; this lesson was not easy for the boys, but they tried until they got it! The French braiding lesson was followed by Jordan’s lesson on how to belly dance. It takes a lot of hip control to belly dance and a lot of practice, but we all got the moves down! After both fun lessons, Reche finished up the day and taught us French! We learned how to count, our body parts, colors, and some very famous food like “fromage” (cheese). Monday was a day full of accomplishments and fun lessons!

IMG_4391

Madi and Zoe ready to hike.

 

On Tuesday, we split up into small groups to hit the McIntyre Creek and McIntyre trails. After morning breakfast and JHAs, we had two saw crews out on McIntyre because we were informed that there were 55 trees that needed to be cleared so we got our best saw to get to work! As the crew separated and said their goodbyes for the day, Reche, Zoe and James got ready to work on McIntyre Creek trail. It was a long walk before they got to their first drain, but as soon as they arrived at their first drain, it was only a matter of time until that trail would be cleared. Reche, James, and Zoe finished the McIntyre Creek trail that was very steep, but also beautiful on the eyes. The drain crew on McIntyre was Jordan, Ruby Ann, and Stevie. They also had a very successful day, they ended up digging 86 drains and getting 2.5 miles up the trail. When they first started they thought that there would be a long hike between drains, but after break they reached the part of the trail that was previously an old road. On the road, the drains were about five feet apart from each other. Tuesday was another successful day for the Rawah Crew.

IMG_20180731_093440

Daniel and Madi  having fun on saw!

On Wednesday, the crew all decided to reunite and finish McIntyre together, so that they could hit Medicine Bow as well. As usual, we started our day with breakfast and JHAs. As the Rawah crew was in the middle of a stretch, they heard a pack of coyotes howling. It was a cool experience, but also a scary one. After finishing up McIntyre trail, the crew decided to split up once again so that we could get as far as possible on the Medicine Bow Trail. With Reche and Ruby Ann crosscutting, and Noah, James, and Nathan on drains, the South trail of Med Bow had a successful day. We also had Jordan and Stevie on the other saw. They finished cutting the rest of the trees on McIntyre and started working on the north part of the Med Bow. Zoe, Daniel, and Madi worked on drains alongside Jordan and Stevie.  There weren’t many drains for them to dig, so they decided to put in new drains in spots where the trail was really rutted up.  Even though we did not finish the Medicine Bow trail, we successfully cleared some trees from the trail and dug many awesome drains!

IMG_20180801_112834

 Stevie and Jordan reached the Med Bow!!

On our final day of hitch, we were all tired, but we had to hike out early because we had to pack and clean the bunk house, so that we can leave early Friday morning. It was a sad morning knowing that it was our last time hiking out with each other, but we all decided to cherish the moment and had an amazing hike out. We also met up with Tommy and Morgan on the way out and they joined us back at the bunkhouse for lunch. After we got to the cars we headed back to Stub to sharpen tools for one last time. We wrapped up the season with one last amazing week. We have done some incredible work this past summer and accomplished a lot as a crew. These past 10 weeks we have grown from a crew to a family.  No matter where life will take the ten of us, we will always be the DARN TOUGH RAWAH CREW!!!!!

IMG_5734

-Stevie and Reche (Crew Leaders of the week)

The Shadow Mountain Crew embraced their last week in Grand Lake. We spent our Tuesday working again with Vicki Burton, installing, removing, and updating trail signs for mountain bikes in the Winter Park area. This project, called Trail Smart Sizing, is a huge undertaking by the Sulphur Ranger District to improve marking, maintenance, and marketing of the trails available to users. It was a successful day, installing three brand new, accurate signs, as well as taking steps to decommission user created trails. We also bumped into a local woman with her horse named Crackers and friendly conversation ensued. She also let the Shadow Crew pet Crackers, which was a highlight of the day for many crew members.

Wednesday, we set out to tackle some unfinished business. Earlier in the season, we attempted to crosscut nearly 17 miles of the High Lonesome Trail in a single day. Unfortunately, time did not permit, and we had to forgo cutting 10 trees.  Lucky for us, the section we couldn’t do that day was close to the Monarch Lake Trailhead, and by lunchtime, 9 of the leftover trees were cleared from the trail. The one that was left had, well, some problems. Mary and Adam started cutting it, and about halfway through, noticed a surprising increase in bees fluttering around the saw. They stopped cutting, and Mary decided that she was going to try and kick the tree and run away from the bees. The top half of the tree came off, with some effort, and so did the bees (then, we all discovered they were wasps). RUN! We frolicked up the trail, leaving the wasps to make their home in a tree, now halfway crosscut in the middle of the trail. Lesson learned: make sure there aren’t critters making their home in the tree before you open it up!

Thursday, we didn’t run into any wasp issues! Instead, we ran into a lake, specifically, Columbine Lake. We hiked up to the cirque, and by the time we got there, we were ready to eat lunch! After we stuffed our stomachs full of trail snacks, we walked to a section of tread that needed to be rerouted. We worked in the area, decommissioning braided social trails and defining the tread on which the true trail. As our last day of “real” trail work with our crew, we took a lot of pictures to document the season (featured below).

On Friday, the whole crew, Amy and Kendra included, got together for a pot luck breakfast. We had blueberry pancakes, cinnamon rolls, watermelon, apple juice, and plenty of coffee.  The crew bonded over reflection of the past events of the summer in preparation to say goodbyes. We spent the rest of the day cleaning our houses. In the evening, we came together for one last Shadow Mountain Movie Night, a screening of Brother Bear, projecting off Adam’s laptop upon the coffee table, as we all crammed together on the couches to see the screen.

Saturday morning, we jumped (slowly) into our cars, said final goodbyes to our homes, and made our way to Estes Park for one last week in the mountains.

38201146_660618227625362_3502634619746910208_n

Sometimes, you just need to embrace your inner koala. Sometimes, we also do trail work.

38470314_524264701363681_4826014082022768640_n

Amy, Mary, and Kendra go on an adventure, and naturally, flying on their tools is the way to get where they need to be.

38300953_524263948030423_7957560035586867200_n

The Shadow Mountain Crew at Columbine Lake.

-Mary (Crew Leader)

 

In the Field: Week 7

Week Seven, on Rawah Trail, was quite an experience for the Rawah Crews. It was a week of beautiful lakes, challenges to navigate, and some great moments as a crew. During our first day on the trail multiple crew members faced sickness, but we took the hike slow and everyone crushed it! We made it about six miles to our campsite near Lost Lake Trail. It was Stevie’s birthday and we had ravioli to celebrate.

Group pic with rawah sign

The whole crew about to cross the wilderness boundary

Day two began with the clearing of trees and drains on the Camp Lake and Upper Camp Lake Trails, as well as further up the Rawah Trail.  While some of the crew was still under the weather, everyone worked hard to accomplish their task, and we were rewarded with some beautiful views of mountain lakes and fields overflowing with wildflowers! While rain threatened to fall, the weather held back and allowed us to soak in only the scenery (and not the precipitation)! Back by popular demand, pita pizzas made another appearance as Tuesday ended.

IMG_20180726_120444257

James and Noah sawed this tree so fast!

reche-lopping.jpeg

Reche lopping some branches.

by a lake

James and Noah hiking past Rawah Lake No. 1

Day three, we divided into a few smaller groups to conquer the rest of the small loops and sections in this maze-like area. Nathan, Zoe, and Madison cleared all the drains on the steep climb to Lost Lake. After obliterating two campsites, they went back to a section of the Rawah trail to re-dig some drains that had started to fill and install a few new ones where necessary. Even though the drains had been dug once before this season, they felt it was important to ensure that we’re doing quality work and maintaining it when possible. Stevie, Reche, Daniel, and Jordan had a fun day finishing the Upper and Lower Sandbar Lake Trails. Every group obliterated at least a couple fire rings, but this group got the most. Apparently, lakeshores are just too tempting for campers and fire builders. Meanwhile Noah, James, and Ruby Ann had a beautiful hike further up the Rawah trail. They passed all four Rawah lakes and crossed over the alpine Grassy Pass into West Branch Valley, maintaining a total of about six miles of trail. When we regathered that evening, everyone shared stories of a wonderful day over a meal of chili mac with a ridiculous amount of cheese. Our spirits had been lifting all week and laughter abounded, but we knew we needed to go to bed to prepare for the hike out. We slept well, awaking only to a magnificent thunderstorm.

pic with flower
Jordan, Stevie, Daniel, and Reche after a good day’s work on Sandbar Lakes trails

On Thursday we packed up and bade a bittersweet farewell to the Rawah Trail.  And of course, Noah and James couldn’t resist clearing a few trees on the way out!  After sharpening tools, our work day concluded with lessons from both Noah and Nathan.  Nathan taught us about the construction of several different types of campfires while Noah gave a lesson on Four Wheel Drive operation! The forest service roads will be no match for this adventurous, off-roading crew!  In all seriousness, this week’s hitch presented many challenges that provided opportunities for growth in all of us.  While we are looking forward to a restful, community-filled weekend, we are all glad to have put boots down on the Rawah Trail one last time.

-Nathan and Ruby Ann (Crew Leaders of the Week)

The rain didn’t stop the Estes Crew this week, for we were happy to be back at it again with the NPS trail crew! Our time was challenged working with trail experts by a new and improved switchback located on the Aspen Brook trail, a trail that will forever be in our hearts. Our mission, though it seemed simple, was to construct a switchback in the trail that kept people on the track, shed water efficiently, and kept the surrounding soil from eroding. We were all surprised at how much work and attention goes into each of these larger projects, but it all pays off in the end when it all becomes unnoticeable to the naked eye. After all these trails are supposed to look as natural as possible. To build a successful switchback, we incorporated a retaining rock wall and some very large boulders to encourage people from shortcutting though natural land and keep them on the trail.

IMG_0522

A boulder was placed to mark the corner of the switchback.

IMG_0528

Many rocks of all shapes and sizes were used.

I’m happy to say that Estes crew is very honored to have such a big roll within the National Park this season. New tread construction, such as the work we have done on Aspen Brook, is an anomaly. Our hope is that stewards continue to protect the land that we love so that our new tail can last for the generations to come. “No one will remember our names, but that’s okay, because its not about us.” –  Berry Sweed NPS ranger.

IMG_0506

View from Aspen Brook Trail.

Estes crew has come a very long way from the begging of the summer, learning copious amount of new trades and skills, all the while living together in tents. This work and home life relationship has tested our patience and resilience to the max, but most importantly, connected us as lifelong friends and family. We are all very excited to finish out the season strong as a team!

 

–Curtis Hall (Crew Leader)

This week Shadow Mountain Crew spent their time in the Never Summer Wilderness. We hiked 4 miles up to the intersection of Parika Lake Trail and Baker Pass where we camped for our last hitch of the season. Our bodies were all really sore from a summer full of swinging tools and hiking but we were all anxious to get to work in an area that we haven’t been to yet. We were awed by the beauty of the area. Nico and I frolicked through the fields of wildflowers and everyone admired the view of Longs Peak from the lake. But despite the beauty, the trails needed a lot of care.

Flowers

Wednesday, we brushed and dug drains on Parika Lake trail. The trails were very cupped from years without maintenance but hopefully the 63 drains we dug will keep the water from causing any more damage. While eating lunch by the lake, we were bombarded by hungry marmots. They started to sneak attack Nico and Adam in hopes of getting some of their food. We tried to instill fear back into them but they were some very brave and stubborn marmots. In addition to the whistle pigs, we saw a large bull moose munching on grass by the lake. We all wanted to see it swim but had to walk away as it started to get closer. After lunch we redefined the intersection of Parika Lake and Baker’s Pass by putting in new tread.

Trail

34790633_1865126593540233_5697176476357492736_nOn Thursday a group went back to the intersection and continued to work on the tread while the rest of us did some rock work. Mary and I built a check dam and Kendra and Caitlin worked on a step. Both were put in place to try to build the trail back up where it was cupped out from water eroding away the sediment. Mary and I channeled our inner cave people as we moved the rocks and dug the hole for the check dam. The echoes of our chants could be heard by everyone in our crew.

mary

The final day we were all very tired and cold from the rain but we packed up camp and worked our way back to the trucks. We continued to brush and dig drains where needed until it was time to head back to the trucks. Back at the village we cleaned and learned how to sharpen our dull tools. After the long week, we rewarded ourselves with a trip to Miyauchi’s for burgers and fries.

-Emma Geverd (Crew Leader of the Week)

Boulder Crew

Welcome (back) to Pawnee!

Boulder Crew here, continuing our project on Pawnee Pass—and having a blast! Much of our past weeks here, and half of this week, were involved in clearing the trail and making it gorgeous and easy to walk on. Not that this wasn’t rewarding and important (it was!), but we all felt some relief and excitement for starting checksteps and erosion control on our lovely but steep trail this week.

Madi with Checkstep

Check Out the Checksteps

Perhaps the most interesting and unusual work for us thus far was building official cairns! The crew hiked up to the top of Pawnee Pass to build these trail markers and also found some great views. This task was yet another time to exercise our rock-work skills to build sturdy and visible structures that would aid hikers on the pass, and I’d say we fully appreciated the rarity and creativity allowed in the process.

No Cairns in the World

No Cair(n)s in the World

Pawnee Pass Pals

Pawnee Pass Pals

This was probably the rainiest week of all, but as one Charlotte would say “PMA all day, every day!” That would be Positive Mental Attitude! Though storms, hail, and pounding rain may chase us off the mountain some days, it hasn’t chased away the smiles (check out those cheesy grins) or our hard work ethic. Everyone is ready to finish off this trail strong and steady, and to get all of the possible erosion control we can accomplished.

Ready to ROCK,

Rachel (Crew Leader of the Week)

Smiles Abound

Smiles Abound

Moraine Crew

Work week seven was all that we hoped and expected it to be!

We all got reunited on Monday and went out the the solar shower (SS) to begin the trail, or path, connecting it to the nearby comfort station and parking area. We did a bit of cleanup in the area and got the logs set and leveled around the SS. The whole time we were doing this we were watching the sky as it darkened. Then right when Chuck, our boss, got gas in the chainsaw to do the cuts that make everything match up nicely it started to pour! We tried to wait out the rain and lightning in our truck, but after 30 minutes and no sign of a change in weather we had to call it and go back to the project shop and work on picnic tables. Luckily the forecast for the rest of the week was way better!

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we put the pedal to the medal and each day put in about 17 logs and hauled thousands of pounds of road base into the trail. The weather was much more favorable and we only had about 30-45 minutes of stoppage each day for heavy rain, lightning and hail.  At the end of Wednesday, we were really able to see the project coming together and nearing completion!

Randy Rebar

Randy in the front drilling a rebar hole with Max and Chuck behind
checking the level across the trail.

On Thursday we quickly finished up the log work and spent the rest of the day hauling literal tons of road base and then crushed rock into the trail. By the end of the day we were super close to finishing, only one more dump truck load of crushed rock for the final surface was needed.

Anna Chainsaw

Justin, the Young Jedi, dialing in on the final angle cut while Anna stabilizes the log.

One thing that is really nice about this project is that people have been going out of their way to walk over and thank us for putting in the solar shower. I never knew how much people enjoyed having access to this campsite amenity. This project is without a doubt increasing the quality of visitors experiences at Rocky Mountain National Park!

Solar Squad

The “Solar Squad” reunited at last!

-Will (Crew Leader)

 

 

In the Field: Week 6

Moraine Crew

This was a long week for the Moraine crew. It was full of ups and downs but ended on some pretty high notes. Throughout the week we remained split up into two or three groups to finish up the solar shower project at Glacier Basin Campground and the ADA pathway at one of the Moraine Park Campground comfort stations.

Max, Anna, Randy, and I worked on completing the frame for the path using some of the beams that we stained earlier in the season. Once this frame was completed we packed down about an inch or more of a clay, sand and pebble mixture, known as road base, using a motorized compacter. This gave us a smooth and even surface to lay the asphalt on. Unfortunately, the compactor we used for the road base was not heavy enough to pack down the asphalt layers. This was a big hiccup and slowed our project down a lot because we had to find a larger, and harder to operate, asphalt compactor. Also this thing weighed about 500 pounds making it very hard to transport requiring some creative thinking and clever engineering to both load and unload it from the dump truck. But it was well worth it in the end because after about 10 passes with this we had made a nice hard layer that can be used for years to come.

 

ada trail

Randy using the small compactor on the final layer before we brought on the large compactor for the finishing touch!

Over in Glacier Basin Campground the solar shower was well on its way to total completion before Thursday. It only needed a bit more on the final coat of paint and the doors that Anna built with Wilson needed to be hung. But mother nature did not care about our plans. On Monday and Tuesday painting got derailed because of rain storms, and the rain caused paint from the morning to run and dripped onto the pavement! Little hiccups like this are a major pain because we had to take over an hour to scrub and clean the paint up. Also, the wind caught one of the doors before the stabilizing spring was put in place and broke the hinges causing another partial day setback. But just like in the rest of our lives we need to learn to work with the unexpected and try to make the best of it.

rinse-station.jpg

Finished door set in place with most of the final coat of Park Service Brown painted on the rest of the Solar Shower.

 

 

 

Our excitement with the completion of these projects was partly because we got them finished and get to see the final product but we are also excited for the next project to start! Next week we will all be working together on building over 150 feet of elevated turnpike style trail to connect the new solar shower with a parking lot we will construct and the nearby comfort station. This will provide a durable and long lasting surface to access these amenities and allow for vegetation to regenerate and thrive in the area.

Aside from work this week we all got together for Randy’s lesson on Wednesday night. We had to wait until after dark for this one because Randy would be teaching us how to orient with the stars! We all learned how to identify the constellation Ursa Major, or the big dipper, and use it as a reference to finding the North Star. Once you know where it is you can extrapolate out the other cardinal directions.

Also Moraine Crew got a visit at the Kelly cabins by a local bear! Luckily it did not break into any of our cabins, but it did try to get into our neighbor’s cabin and checked some of our car doors which were locked! Hayley woke up in the middle of it happening and spooked the bear off after getting this picture from the safety of her room.

bear

-Will (Crew Leader)

Boulder Crew 

The dawn of our big project is finally upon us! This week, Boulder Crew packed up camp and headed to Pawnee Pass to do some critical trail repair. We found ourselves challenged, intrigued, and extremely satisfied by the past week of work.

Working on Pawnee Pass meant that our crew was allowed to camp in an area that isn’t open to normal recreators. We felt extremely lucky to be allowed to stay in such a pristine and beautiful place.

Img13

Home away from home!

From our little camp, we had an incredible view of the massive alpine lake nearby. With wildflower season peaking, and plenty of wildlife around, there was no shortage of eye candy during the week. We even had a curious coyote approach camp one evening!

Img14

Crew and a view

Our work consisted primarily of removing obstacles from the trail so as to create a more even and accessible surface. Some of the objects removed include: massive rocks, huge rocks, and really big rocks. We also spent considerable time trimming brush along the trail, and installing rock steps. This type of work is exceptionally satisfying as one can see improvements become immediately beneficial.

Img12

Rachel working hard to make the trail beautiful

Having the opportunity to work in the high alpine is an awesome way for the crew to round out the season. We are looking forward to our next two weeks of work, hoping to finish strong!

Img11

Taking lunch break with a view

-Zach (Crew Leader)

Estes Crew

This week, (B)estes crew worked alongside the Vegetation Crew in RMNP for the duration of the week. Monday through Wednesday we had the opportunity to walk the meadows around the park and spray some invasive species on the west side and east side of the park. We sprayed leafy spurge, Canadian thistle, hock weed and a few other plants that were non native to the park. The real fun came on Thursday as we drove up trail ridge road to recover some old fencing that was dropped off by helicopter in the 90’s. The intended purpose for the fencing was to make some enclosure to study tundra ecology, however this never happened and the fencing was left to sit. The “Veg” crew decided they could make use of the fencing and decided to take a day to retrieve it. We rolled five 400lb rolls of wire up a mountain to our trucks and then hauled them back to headquarters. The work was hard but incredibly rewarding! While we only were able to work two weeks with veg crew, it was jammed packed with tons of learning and valuable experience.12.jpg22.jpg41.jpg37.jpgmax shovel5

-Nate (Crew Leader of the Week)

Rawah Crews

During our sixth week of work, the Rawah Crews spent some quality time in the Comanche Peaks Wilderness. We returned to the Big South Trail to pick up where we left off a couple of weeks earlier. On Monday, most of our day was spent hiking six miles to set up our back-country base camp for the week. For some of our crew members, this was the farthest backpacking trip they had embarked on (carrying tools no less). This trail follows the meandering Poudre River in a wilderness travel zone, which made for a beautiful week of work. When we arrived at campsite sixteen we were greeted by remnants of campers-past. We decided that we would do a thorough camp clean-up to start the next day.

Tuesday morning, we were greeted by a curious moose strolling the perimeter of our camp. After a morning trash pickup, the crews split in half to work on the Flowers and Big South trails. This was the first time we had split our ten person mega-crew this summer. The Flowers crew would soon experience a merciless calf workout. This trail had few, if any, switchbacks and even fewer drains so much of the day was spent constructing new ones. That afternoon, the saw team encountered a large and difficult tree that had fallen on the trail. On the hike down the drain crew came onto the scene and as a team, all five crew members conquered the task and were able to hike back to camp as a family. The Big South crew had an exciting start to their day with a river crossing. This was a great way for our crew to work together as a team and create a plan of action for crossing with packs and tools. Soggy feet could not dampen our spirits, and the crew went on to dig many drains and cut many trees.

Wednesday the crews did a switcheroo to experience and finish up the two trails. After successfully crossing the Poudre, the new Big South crew went on to finish the trail, landing them out of the wilderness and into Rocky Mountain National Park. This felt like a major accomplishment connecting the northern woods of Colorado to the glory of the national park. The new Flowers crew spent the day climbing 2000 vertical feet into alpine, marking the completion of maintenance up to the Mirror Lake Trail junction. Reche and James bucked 14 large trees while the drain team cleared drains to treeline.

Thursday, we packed up camp and finished the 2.5 miles of trail on the way back to the trailhead. This week was full of exciting challenges! From river crossings to calf-destroying climbs, each member of the crew had to meet the challenges that these trails presented. We were all thrilled about finishing the trail. Each of us are grateful to be a part of a team that cleared the way for people to enjoy their national forest. Our hard work has made this beautiful walk into Rocky Mountain National Park accessible once again.

Campsite hike

Rawah mega-crew hiking to our campsite.

big-south-drains.jpg

Zoe ready to conquer drains on Big South!

Big Soutyh

Wednesday’s Big South crew after completing the trail!

Flowers

Daniel and Nate in alpine on Flowers trail.

-Madi & James (Crew Leaders of the Week)

Tuesday morning, we were up and gathered around with the team, ready to start stretch and safety when special guest Geoff Eliot arrives. Unfortunately, not everyone was able to enjoy Geoff’s presence for two of our team members were to work with another team that specializes in building fences that prevent unauthorized vehicles on trail. Regardless of the separation, we all had the opportunity to hear the sound of Geoff’s spirit animal, a river otter. The rest of our team worked on the Strawberry Lake Trail doing the normal routine of brushing and digging drains. With Geoff in our presence, the day seemed to go a lot faster.

On Wednesday, the team was all together, we hopped into Bruce(the forest truck) and drove to Rogers Pass, the trail we would be working on. The drive seemed pretty chill at first, until we drove up a dirt road. This road had rocks, rocks big enough to make the truck dance. We were bouncing up and down, left to right, it was like a mosh pit inside the truck. It was not fun for the poor soul that had to use the restroom. We finally arrived at the trailhead, grabbed our tools, and began to hike. We hiked and hiked, not a single stop to brush. We stopped a couple of times to clear the trail of fallen tree but that was it, the trail was in great condition. On the other hand, the trail was different from past trails I’ve worked on. With unstable rocky ground, strong winds, and heights that can end it all with the roll of an ankle, what can go wrong? Absolutely nothing! The hike was amazing! It had great scenic views and the wind was powerful enough to cool you down.

Thursday we were split up again, but we were essentially on the same trail. We worked on the High Lonesome trail. One half worked on the beginnings of the trail and the other half worked towards the end of the trail. We split up to cover more ground and it worked. We brushed most of the trail but unfortunately we didn’t complete the whole trail due to time. The trail itself was really peaceful, we had a great time.

Finally, Friday comes around and we are back together as an entire team again. Friday was different from other days. We worked on the Knight Ridge Trail, but we didn’t drive to the trail, we sailed the waters of Lake Granby on a speedboat to get to our location, we had a blast! Our goal was to get rid of as many fallen trees as we could, so we brought our cross cuts and got to work. In total, we got rid of a of 27 trees, it doesn’t seem like much but for hand to hand labor it was plenty. Although the sail to our location was fun that was not the highlight of the day. We sat down and had lunch and not one, not two, not three, but four moose walk in our lunch break one by one. We were surrounded by four large male moose, fortunately they were more interested in their organic, non-GMO, all natural, gourmet vegan grass than our generic sandwiches. No one was hurt that day and we all sailed back home in peace.

-Rick (Crew Leader of the Week)

In the Field: Week 5

Moraine Crew

Wow, it feels good getting back to work after the midweek change of pace. We hit the ground running this week by dividing into three two person teams to work on a variety of work!

Anna and Barnabas took off for most of the week and worked at the solar shower project in Glarier Basin Campground. They completed the structural supports between the main beams and put up all the walls! They even began painting, and probably would have completed it if we did not get rained out on Thursday (fresh paint and downpours of rain are not a good combination).

1.jpg

Solar Shower Project coming along great! All the walls are up and painting is under way.

Hayley and Randy spent most of their week at the project shop mastering the new skill we all learned on Tuesday, glazing. Glazing is real interesting, and sometimes frustrating, because it is a very simple skill to learn but it takes a lot of practice to get good at. You must work both patiently to get nice smooth corners and no cracks, but, you also have to work fast enough so the glazing putty does not get too cold to work with.  Everyone in the crew also learned how to glaze but did not get much practice in this week, but if there is one thing we have learned its that there are always more windows to work on!

2

Dolly demonstrating excellent glazing techniques with a putty knife, she makes it look easy but also has 20+ years of practice!

Max and I (Will) got our fix of digging and swinging piks this week. We spent most of our time out at Moraine Park Campground working on constructing a new ADA trail to access a comfort station and modifying the old platform around the comfort station to meet ADA standards on slope. We removed the existing asphalt pathway and started digging and grading the slope for the new trail with the help of our boss Chuck and his mini excavator. After the new tread was dug and graded we began installing the redwood sidewalls that were stained earlier in the season.

Unfortunately, we also go rained out on Thursday and were not able to get as much work done as we would have hoped, but what we did get done is looking really good! It is crazy to see that amount of work that goes into making about 60 feet of new pathway, it really gave us a sense of respect for all the paved pathways we use on a daily basis.

3

Max standing atop of the asphalt he and Will removed by hand that Chuck could not reach with the excavator (not shown in this picture is the smile on chucks face as he uses his favorite toy).

Aside from the fun we had at work this week we all got together on Monday to make gluten AND dairy free pizza as our crew leader of the week Anna taught us all how to make friendship bracelets for her lesson. They are another good example of something that is simple but takes a lot of practice to get good at, she could have made each of us one before we finished our own!

Moraine crew, over and out!

-Will Fazio (Moraine Crew Leader)

This week on Boulder Crew we went on our first hitch. It was a whopping one mile hike
in to one of the most mosquito infested campsites ever. After setting up camp we
started our usual process of moving big rocks off the trail and moving even bigger rocks
onto trail to make check steps and waterbars.3

Working on this trail was a bit more difficult than the previous trails because of the crazy amount of hikers that went by. It seemed like every minute there was a new hiker
passing by causing us to get “hikernoia” which is whenever you hear a noise on trail you
think it is a hiker waiting to pass. After each day of work we would swim in the lake to
relax and wash off all the trail grime. Working on a project like this was very fulfilling
because we could see our progress on a rough trail that became less rough and had
beautiful check steps and stairs instead of ankle rolling, leg breaking rocks.

4
All in all the week went pretty smooth besides a few minor hiccups. Everyone survived
and packed their backpack correctly and no one brought a shortage of food so in that
sense it was a very successful hitch. Although I am pretty sure everyone left with a few
more mosquito bites and a little less blood than at the start of the week.

2
1

-Jess (Crew Leader of the Week

For our fifth week of field work as the Rawah Crews, we returned to the Young Gulch trail for another hitch. Instead of camping at the trailhead, we backpacked down to a forested spot next to a beautiful meadow. For several people in our crew, this was their first real backpacking experience! Nate (Trail Jesus) met us at the top of the trail and hiked down with us to show us the ropes for our first day back on the trail. He wowed us (once again) with his super-human forearms and infinite trail knowledge. He hiked out after lunch and we were on our own for the rest of the week. Our first day was a very full one. A crew member rolled an ankle but powered through the day, James felled his first tree, and Noah built a rock wall. Our job at Young Gulch was to dig new tread. It was an exciting change of pace for us where we got the opportunity to use a variety of tools and challenge different muscles. Our evening ended with a dinner of Jordan’s trail-famous pad thai.

IMG_3659IMG_3664

We realized on Tuesday morning just how hard we worked on Monday. We were sore but excited to get back to digging tread. The sun was present throughout the day, but the entire crew was resilient. We probably drank over 35 liters of water between all of us. It was a pretty standard day for most of us who were digging tread. For James and Nathan, they spent the second half of the day building a spectacular rock ramp. At this point, we didn’t have any hammers, so they were extremely crafty with the crushing of rocks. In the evening, we all had the opportunity to relax with the first part of Ruby Ann’s lesson. She taught us about making tea with foraged fruits and leaves, focusing on sustainable foraging. We collected wild raspberries, wild strawberries, mint, pine needles, bee balm, mullein, sage, juniper, and dandelion. We saved our plant mixture for the morning and ate stir fry for dinner which was prepared by Nathan, who we have deemed the cooking wizard of the group. On Tuesday night, Nathan also found some fresh bear scat right next to our camp.IMG_9917

Wednesday morning was perfect for everyone as we all prepared our foraged tea for the second part of Ruby Ann’s lesson. It was life-changing. Soon after, we were joined by Tommy and Morgan, our fearless field coordinators. The day started off with digging tread and quickly turned into a day of projects for half of the group. We came across a boulder in the middle of the trail which gave us an opportunity to work on our rock work skills. Ramps were needed on both sides of the boulder. Noah, Madison, Jordan, Stevie, and Ruby Ann took on the boulder project. The rest of us moved further down the trail to dig tread. Nathan came across another large rock in the trail and cleared all of the rotted wood (this was a feat!) to prepare the area for a future crew to do some rock work. Reche found an incredible spot next to the creek where we all enjoyed lunch and much-needed shade. After work, we all participated in Noah’s lesson of “How to Run.” It was very informative and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. Ruby Ann then cooked the culminating dinner of the work week–trail burritos! Shortly after we all (influenced by our food comas) decided to go for an early night and be well-rested for our final day of the hitch.IMG_3682IMG_5107

Our final day of the hitch was our first and only day without the sun. The sky was encompassed in clouds and the endless thunder started around lunchtime. We completed one of our boulder ramps, and the other one was nearing completion when the time came to hike out. The five of us who weren’t working on the ramp projects spent the morning digging tread in a really gnarly area with lots of raspberry bushes and large rocks. We accepted the challenge and dug some beautiful tread.

We had an incredible time back at Young Gulch. The hike out was incredible as we all got the opportunity to enjoy a trail we put into place. We made it back to the cars just as the torrential downpour began. Life is awesome like that!

-Zoe & Daniel (Crew leaders of the week)

Week 7 was another rockin’ week for the Estes Crew (No pun intended)! We spent most of the week working on a switchback section of our Aspen Brook trail. The days were early, and the weather unpredictable, but was more than enjoyable with great company!

RMC Cora Morgan Curtis in Rain

Some of us huddled together to weather the storm on Thursday (Again, no pun intended).

Most of the crew was able to learn how to use a drill to remove rock from the trail. This allows for a more even tread level, as well as a safer hike for humans and horses! The crew also became proficient at moving rocks this week. We each were able to learn how to carefully move large rocks down the hill, on the trail, and towards the switchback. In order to move these massively heavy objects, we used a rock cart. This helps to distribute the weight evenly and roll the rock easily down the trail, rather than dragging it.

RMC Curtis with Rock

Our fearless crew leader steadying a rock onto the rock cart.

All of our rock gathering abilities are helpful for the rock wall, steps, crush, and riprap that are being constructed for this trail. These will help maintain the structure and prevent erosion of the trail. We’re so excited for the structures being built on this trail, and we are more than thankful to be able to be a part of it!

RMC Group Picture in the Car

See you all next week!

-Sydney (Crew Leader of the Week)

In the Field: Week 4

During this past week, the crews returned to Estes Park for Mid-Week. During the week, they focus on developing an increased understanding of the National Park Service and Rocky Mountain National Park. Take a look at the crews’ previous week in the field, marking the half-way point of the 2018 season!

Boulder Crew

Week of 6/25/18-6/28/18

To start the week off, we had some unfinished business in the James Peak Wilderness to complete. Our fourth turnpike was still in need of more rip rap and dirt, so off to the borrow pits we went! We spent the whole day digging and dumping dirt onto our final turnpike. With that done, as a crew we had completed over 50 feet of turnpikes over the course of two weeks, something the trail was in desperate need of as it was a very wet area. There was never a dull moment on this trail as it was heavily trafficked, and we would receive a lot of praise from grateful hikers.

Turnpike

Completed Turnpikes

Tuesday came, and with it, a new work location. We were taken to Rainbow Lakes in the Indian Peaks Wilderness area to install check steps and two rock stairwells. The crew split into two groups for efficiency. The first group installed nine check steps to help stabilize the tread and provide a better experience for the hikers. The second group worked in a steeper section of the trail, removing loose and jutting rocks to install two needed staircases. This project involved a lot of ‘rock shopping’ for big, flat rocks, which was not always an easy task. After finding a rock we would dig the tread out and place the rocks in a stairwell fashion. Again, this was a heavily trafficked trail and just about every hiker shared their gratitude. I think this is something my whole crew can agree upon; it’s a good feeling interacting with the people who appreciate your work most.

Stairwell #1

The First Completed Stairwell

Wednesday was our second and final day in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Each of the groups finished up their tasks. All together we completed nine check steps and two stairwells; not a small task for two days.

Stairwell #2

The Second Stairwell

On Thursday we were sent to yet another location, something quite uncommon for our crew as we usually work in the same area for at least a week. However, the variety this week was a nice change. On our final day of the work week we were sent to the Fourth of July trail in Eldora. Again, we split into two groups for efficiency. The first group stayed near the trailhead installing a rock retaining wall on a switchback to combat hikers cutting the trail short and eroding away the terrain. The second group was sent on a maintenance run to cut back brush overcrowding the trail. They hiked three miles up to the alpine, took in the view, and then began their hike down to remove brush. Crew Leader, Zach was excited to put the Silky Saw to some good use! Speaking of excitement, we saw the most unique thing on trail: a ferret! We all got to meet Oliver the hiking ferret and his wonderful owner, he had a harness and all. To make matters even better, we were excited to learn he has his own Instagram to track his adventures. It was a beautiful day, a bit on the hot side but we were fortunate enough to be in the mountains, rather than down in the front country where temperatures reached 100 degrees!

Trail View

View from the top of Arapaho Pass on the Maintenance Run

Overall, this was a great week for the Boulder Crew. We were thankful for the change of pace and different trails to work on. We are all proud of the work we completed this week and only look forward to the endless amount of rock work to come!

Peace, Madi (Boulder Crew Leader of the Week)

Estes Crew

Estes Crew Blog: Week of June 23, 2018

This week we returned to the Aspen Brook trail. We began new tread this week and worked alongside of the Larimer County Conservation Corps (LCCC). Before we began our day, we hiked down around two miles into the trail where we were assigned jobs and began the reroute. We also learned that we will be continuing our work on this trail for the rest of the summer.

On Monday, Estes Crew was first introduced to the project on this trail and everyone had a great time, we were all ready to get back to work after the weekend and at the end of the day everyone had felt like they had done a great amount of work for the first day. It seems that everyone was anxious to get to this part of the season because throughout the rest of the week everyone came back feeling great about the work and what they accomplished in the day

On Tuesday, we returned back to the Aspen Brook Trail and finished up the work we didn’t complete the day before, some members of the crew did brushing of the trail that was done the day before and collected any tools that were no longer needed. We also got down the trail a bit more! Everyone overall had an awesome day and when we got back to camp everyone was feeling accomplished and ready for the next day of work.

On Wednesday, we attended a safety meeting/training in the late morning around 11:00 and then traveled back to our work place for the week and did the same work. We were also able to meet up with the Moraine Crew during lunch since they attended the safety activity, as well, and reflected with them about how their day and work has been going so far. We’re happy to say that everyone here at the Rocky Mountain National Park is having a great time and experiencing everything they wanted and more.

On Thursday, we returned to our work and continued making new tread and working with LCCC.

-Jovonna (Estes Crew Leader of the Week)

Shadow Mountain Crew

The Shadow Mountain Crew embarked on many adventures this week. We began on Tuesday helping with another district project: installing signs on mountain bike trails near Winter Park. In an effort to standardize trails in the Winter Park area, a project called “trail smart-sizing,” the crew helped Vicky Burton carrying in and dig holes for signs freshly labeling trails. At the end of the day, we had hiked in four signs and carried out four others. We learned that signs are surprisingly heavy, and that they’re treated with a carcinogenic coating, which we had to be extremely careful not to touch with our bare skin. This aspect earned the signs the nickname “cancer stick.”

36501957_2099226660345188_7020652936174764032_n

The next day, we left for a three-day camping spike out in the Stillwater Pass Area. We worked to maintain a user-created trail called Wolverine Bypass that traveled unsustainably up the side of Blue Ridge. To develop a trail that would last much longer, we installed nearly 35 drains over the course of two days to facilitate water runoff, preventing gullying from extended periods of rain. During this period, we also worked to clarify trail at a rather confusing intersection. To do this, the Shadow Crew spent the morning retreading the switchback at the intersection to make the trail more obvious, taking out trees and shrubs to increase sightlines, and moving a cancer stick to more clearly denote which trail traveled what direction.

Thursday brought along a special surprise. Midmorning, our radios began to crackle. The night before, lightning had struck near the Williams Fork, about 15 miles away, and started a fire! During our breaks, the crew surrounded the radio, listening to the engines, helicopters, and Fort Collins dispatch organize units to tame the flames. By mid-afternoon, two other fires had started in the area, and the Shadow Crew gathered atop a ridgeline facing northward towards one of the starts, seeing haze fall over the Never Summer Mountain range. We pulled out our map, listening to the radio crackle GPS coordinates in an attempt to pinpoint where the fires were. It was a really unique experience and, thankfully, our crew was a safe distance away from the dangers.

On Friday, we opted to work in the same area, this time on the Lost Lake Loop Trail and the Lost Lake Access Trail, en route to Lost Lake itself. Friday demanded a lot of brushing, as well as drain work, as the east end of the Loop Trail ascended a similarly steep hill as the Wolverine Bypass Trail. We made it to the lake in time to eat lunch, and under the heat of the sun, some of the Shadow Crew jumped in to cool off. After lunch, we headed back to camp to pack up, head home, and do some quick tool maintenance before we left the west side. The crew will be spending the next week over the Continental Divide in Estes Park for midweek, as well as embarking on a select few adventures with other crews on the Corps.36414791_1896318247087734_3641515793172135936_n

Happy Trails!

-Mary Cretney (Shadow Mountain Crew Leader)

Moraine Crew

Week four in the field has been very busy, but as always our week starts off with the Moraine Crew waking up with the sun on a lovely Monday morning.

On Monday when we arrived to the office, we were split up into groups to work on a variety of projects such as building picnic tables (a classic), painting windows (always a favorite), and working on constructing a solar shower in Glacier Basin campground (something new and exciting). After work, chef Will cooked a scrumptious family dinner that consisted of rice noodles mixed with a coconut red curry sauce and a large dollop of peanut butter. As mix-ins, there were eggs, cabbage sautéed with onions and garlic, broccoli, and green beans. For a garnish, there were green onions, peanuts, and orange slices to squeeze on top. Will keeps us full and healthy and always asking for more. After dinner, the first “Crew leader of the week”, Hayley, gave her lesson teaching the crew how to play a card game called Shanghai. It was a very complex but extremely fun game that we will have to play on a rainy day.

randy-painting.jpg

Randy painting redwood boards for the picnic tables

will-table.jpg

Will using the force to complete a picnic table

Tuesday we were visited by a wonderful woman, Lori, who discussed ergonomics, which focuses on the importance of appropriate posture and mobility while working. Lori first talked with us about posture and body safety in the workplace, touching on some of the co-workers’ biggest problem areas involving the lower back, knees, and shoulders that are associated with mainly lifting heavy objects. Next, we warmed up with squats, hamstring stretches, and torso twists. Then we began lifting objects using correct techniques and posture or being corrected on our approach to better improve in the future. After Lori’s talk, we were split up again to the project locations from Monday. Anna stuck to painting windows on Tuesday and has become more acquainted with the little girl at the house she works at, and now their friendship is official.

will-ergo.jpg

Will discovering his waistline during ergonomics training

Wednesday was staff safety training and appreciation day, which involved educational booths that discussed different safety topics that involved chemicals, fire, and the body. After expanding our safety knowledge, we had the privilege of moving picnic tables to set up for the appreciation lunch. After the lunch, it was back to work, both work and play here for the Moraine Crew.

On Thursday, we were again separated from each other. Some crew members finished up the last of the picnic tables and delivered them as gifts to different areas around park housing. Anna finished painting all the windows on the house she has been working at for two weeks. The rest of the crew members hauled 10-foot logs to the solar shower to line the paths that will be leading to both the comfort station and the solar shower. All in all it was a very successful day!

GBCG Solar

The view from the solar shower and comfort station at Glacier Basin Campground

Next week will be a break from working at the project shop, and when we come back we plan to hit the ground running on finishing up the solar shower project as well as start any new projects awaiting us. We are all very excited for mid-week and camping with all the other crews we have missed seeing these past few weeks! There are so many adventures to come, thanks for reading.

-Hayley (Moraine Crew Leader of the Week)

Rawah Crews

This week in the Rawah Wilderness was another exciting one!  We started off the week strong on the West Branch Trail with a surprise project. In the previous week, we encountered some day hikers that were forced to turn back where the West Branch Trail met the North Fork of the Larmie River. Armed with this information about the impassable river, the Rawah crew decided to take action.  After assessing the area, we decided to delegate two crew members to prepare a log to be placed across the river while the remaining eight crew members had the task of carrying on with a regular maintenance run. At the end of the day, everybody worked together to set in the prepared log across the river. It was a big success!

IMG_3088.JPG

Crew members James and Nate preparing the log bridge

On Tuesday we began work on the very popular Blue Lake Trail. We completed no large projects, but the day was just as productive. Although it took a bit of overtime, we were able to cover the whole five miles up to Blue Lake. Everyone had a wonderful hike down after a quick break at Blue Lake.

IMG_4697

Views from the Blue Lake Trail

On Wednesday we tackled the Big South trail. It was quite steep, but our entire crew did a stellar job. It was a great day of maintenance, saw work, and lots of progress. We completed a whopping 193 drains. At lunch we enjoyed a beautiful view down by the beach.

fmu+%vOxRVyaOr7+FUoX5g

Crew leader Noah installing a new drain while field coordinator Morgan and crew members Reche and Stevie bump up trail.

Thursday was a special day, we had visitors! We were graced with Tommy and Morgan’s presence as we maintained the Roaring Creek Trail. It was our first time on this trail and it was beautiful!

bTNHl6n5SPWzKOQAhxo3qw

Crew leader Jordan and crew member Daniel showing a tree some love

As it was a short day (due to accumulated overtime), we were only able to cut down five trees and cover three miles of trail.

IMG_9582

Crew leader Jordan and crew member Daniel showing a tree some love.

Until next week,

Noah and Jordan (Rawah Crew Leaders)

 

 

In the Field: Week 3

Estes Crew 

Crew Leader of the Week: Maximo T. Bye

Week Of: 6/18/18

Monday, 6/18/18:

The week started strong with a typical Monday morning. Estes Crew and the National Park Service had our Monday meeting about this week and quickly got to work with the horses. We were to brush Finch Lake today. Brushing consists of taking out small trees, branches, or plants that are growing in the trail or onto the trail.  We finished around 2.3 miles of the trail. The hike was amazing and featured a steep climb to start, an aspen forest, and even a forest of Ponderosa in such little time. Thanks to the rain over the weekend, the day was humid and every branch we cut let loose a small collection of water droplets that kept us cool through the day.

IMG_0375

Looking out at Longs Peak

Tuesday, 6/19/18:

Tuesday was a lot less hiking. We were given the task of hauling old wood used for fencing from Sprague Lake to Bone Yard, a place where old wood and tools go to die. In addition to this we brought A-frames to Sprague Lake that will eventually be new Buck and Rail fencing. It quickly became apparent that we needed more logs to make A-frames with, so we quickly hiked out to Bierstadt where we collected 20 more logs that were suitable for the job. Everyone worked together to bring the logs down to the Bierstadt parking lot for pickup after they were cleaned up. Before long, the day was coming to an end and Estes Crew prepared for the next day.

IMG_0382

Unloading Buck & Fence at boneyard

Wednesday, 6/20/18:

Another job of brushing for Estes Crew! We were grouped with about 12 other people to conquer Andrew’s Glacier. Everyone hiked out from the Bear Lake Trail Head towards our work place. The plan was to take a fire trail to shave off an extra mile on our hike. Soon enough we had made it to our destination where we split into two groups, one starting at the top of the trail and the other starting from the bottom. Quickly, we worked towards each other. Before we knew it, we had met in the middle and hiked to the top for a break by the snow. A few snowballs were tossed, and many attempted sliding down the snowy hills. After our lunch we had finished all of Andrew’s Glacier and needed more work. We hiked back to Bear Lake where we embarked onto the other side of Bierstadt. The rest of the day was working on this trail. By the end of the day, over 10 miles had been hiked by the crews.

IMG_0405

Thursday, 6/21/18:

Closing the week with some more brushing! This time the crew headed to our day’s scenery, Fern Lake. Jovonna was given a separate task for the day, she was sent to join the Moraine Crew! She painted and worked on picnic tables for the day. We worked from the pool towards Cub Lake, eventually ending at the Cub Lake Trailhead. The day started nice and cool, but slowly heated up. We did our best removing everything that was impairing hikers from hiking the trail, or that would shortly grow to impact the trail negatively. The views from the trial highlighted the mountains that surrounded us, snowy peaks shined in the sun as we took a morning break. Like all breaks though, it soon ended, and we worked to preserve this moderately popular trail. Many people stopped and thanked us for the work we were doing, it made everyone happy to be complimented for the hard work we love. We all enjoyed the view of Cub Lake and its lily pads as we worked. Eventually, we finished the trail and headed back to the vehicles. Our day was not done, and we headed to a pull off near Hollowell Park where we talked to one of the wilderness firemen, Doug. He told us all about his job, his life, and his love of wilderness fire. He said he had been “bitten by the Fire-Bug” and couldn’t stop what he wanted to do. In addition to this he told us about how fires work, the ways forests defend themselves from fires, when they burn the burn piles so many visitors ask about, and the history of how people fought fires. Everyone learned so much from Doug and thanked him for his time. This concluded our work day and week. This weekend we rest and prepare for next weeks challenges and surprises.

IMG_0391

Clearing Brush

-Maximo Bye (Estes Crew Leader of the Week)

Rawah Crews

Hello again! As the first half of the season begins to wind down, the Rawah Mega Crew has only been winding up. Week three was quite an interesting week in the Rawah Wilderness. On Monday, we returned to the Link trail for a second day packed full of drain digging, trail clearing, and what some might consider a fair amount of hiking. After ten hours of work and nearly eighteen miles of round trip hiking, the resiliency of the crew really began to shine. Despite an exhausting and demanding day, the crew was able to bounce back after an evening spent with our boss, Geoff, who came up from the mother ship to pay a visit.

2di0n4fFS0CXsyEMPYQsIg.jpg

Noah taking care of Ruby Ann’s blister.

Tuesday marked the first day of maintenance on the Rawah Trail and what a wild ride it was. Not only were we blown away by all the traffic we encountered (three separate groups of people!), we were able to embrace the mailman way of life by working through rain, sleet, snow, and sunshine.

h6fbAihwRAajRT3qaAnc5w.jpg

The crew enduring a light blizzard during lunch

Pre-Thursday was a special day for us as our beloved crew member, Reche, returned to work after time spent with family. The Rawah crew was in full force for a second day on the Rawah Trail. With the return of Reche, we were able to properly surprise a soon-to-be twenty-one-year old Zoe with a birthday cake and great company.

Thursday may have been the fourth day of a long and exhausting week, but that didn’t stop us from having fun and working hard. This day was rather unique in terms of some work we were able to do, including both obliterating an illegal campsite and fire ring as well as mitigating the effects of water run-off from a waterfall. In addition, our crosscut coach, Chris, surprised us at lunch and took a break from official business to visit us for a bit.

+CBg5y1nS3Ojd0M1A5HI4w

Until next week!

-Noah and Jordan (Rawah Crew Leaders)

Boulder Crew

Week three flew by as we spent our second week at the South Boulder Creek Trail in the James Peak Wilderness! Although it was supposed to rain, the good weather was in our favor and the sun shined every day!

us on turnpike.jpg

This week we continued our turnpike construction and finished up our fourth turnpike on the trail to mitigate water erosion damage. Just like last week we spent our days collecting rocks, dirt, and more rocks! As most of us are new to turnpike construction, last week was a learning period for us. However, by the end of this week we consider ourselves professionals.

madi and jess

Hard at work

charlotte swingin

Charlotte swingin’

turnpike1

A completed turnpike!

On Thursday, we headed to the Boulder Ranger District for a meeting with the U.S. Forest Service about the importance of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and how to check the vitality of the equipment. It was great to meet everyone and talk to them about their careers and the path they took to get there. Especially since many of us hope to be in their positions in our future careers.

We wrapped up the week by visiting the Shadow Mountain Crew to spend time with everyone by the water and in the town of Grand Lake!

group pic

Camping in Grand Lake

-Hannah (Leader of the Week)

Shadow Mountain Crew

West Side Best Side

We started off this week heading to the Strawberry West Trailhead where we met friend of the forest and hut builder, Andy Miller. He showed us where he had done a short reroute and shared some of his plans for building a new hut. After parting ways we did our stretch and safety circle and contemplated whether we would rather have dustpan hands or sweat jelly. In the end, team dustpan took majority with an astounding switch of teams from Kendra after a four year run on team sweat jelly.

Having adequately stretched and exhausted our job hazards we shouldered our full packs and walked the mile and a half in to the junction of Strawberry West and Caribou trail where we set up camp. We brushed for a few hours before we called it a day and headed back to camp for rose, bud, thorn and tacos made by Caitlin. Rose, bud, thorn is our end of the day ritual where we each talk about the good parts of the day, what wasn’t so good, and what we’re looking forward to the next day. Most of us are always looking forward to the getting horizontal part (sleeping).

36223910_1887330597986499_4203052891331624960_n(1)

Shadow Crew’s home for the week, featuring the dynamic duo of alpenglow and an evening thunderstorm.

In the mornings, there was a fine layer of frost covering our tents and the grass. Adam, being the first one up, would build a fire in the pit for us all. We would eat our oatmeal around it and stare at the flames in an early morning daze.

On Wednesday, Amy and Kendra showed us how to make drains well so that they wouldn’t need much maintenance other than debris removal every once in a while. So we spent Wednesday walking down Caribou brushing in pairs and putting in drains as necessary. A little after 3 in the afternoon we spotted a moose not far off from the trail so we backed down for fifteen minutes until he wandered off in his majestic moose way. While we waited we talked about the possible damage a moose could do if angered and what an angry moose looks like. Adam wanted to test our moose friend and see if he could knock over a tree. Mary assured him he didn’t need to test it.

On Thursday, Kendra and Amy walked with us and pointed out the good things of the drains we put in and helped us to make them better if necessary. We parted ways around 10, leaving us to brush as they took the llamas and the chainsaws off to clear more of Strawberry West. We cleared all of Caribou and made it part way up Strawberry West. Towards the end of the day we started putting in some tread near an unnamed peak on Strawberry West. We were about a half hour into the work when it started to drizzle and the thunder cracked. Mary decided it was best to head down the mountain. We played a riveting game of contact on the way back, in which I had them stumped for half the walk with the word paratrooper. Pro-tip: use words with common prefixes.

35296702_1887329057986653_1883541702749192192_n

The process of constructing a reroute for a muddy section of the Strawberry West Trail

We started the day on Friday sharing what we thought Mary would be like at the age of thirty in honor of it being her 21st birthday. Then we did a cinnamon roll hug in despite the stank of our sweat that only trail crews will know. We brushed for an hour on Strawberry West before the trail became a beaver dam lake. So we turned back and packed up camp. Since we had a bit of time and our campsite was a well used one we spent a while picking up a trash compactor bag of garbage to haul out. We brushed on the way back to the trucks as Amy and Kendra cut trees that had fallen across the trail. After lunch we put in tread on the reroute that Andy Miller had made. It was pretty cool to put work in on a new trail and know that we were part of making a better experience for users. At the end of the day we walked to the High Lonesome hut, sat in the shade and did rose, thorn, bud.

36227215_1887330187986540_7140157124125917184_n

Trail Work Ahead? I sure hope it does!

By the way, did you know owls have legs?

-Nico (Shadow Mountain Crew Leader of the Week)

Moraine Crew

This week we wrapped up our first big project and got setup for next weeks’ solar shower project while continuing the Quarters Five project and picnic table construction.

On Monday we all returned to McGraw ranch to continue window work on the main building. We did not get as much done as we wished because we spent a bit of time fixing small errors made the previous week. These little errors like moving sashes before they are completely dry resulting in marks and scuffs took almost as much time to fix as painting an entire window sash. From this we learned that working patiently to get the job done right the first time saves a lot of time in the backend of the project.

On Tuesday Will, Hayley, Max, Randy, and Anna returned to McGraw ranch to start work on the last, and largest, set of windows that needed to be restored. By this point we all knew what needed to be done and how to do it right. While Anna and Hayley worked on scraping and calking the windows in preparation for painting the rest of us had an assembly line system for prepping and paining the sashes. Max was on scraping and priming duty Randy was cranking out almost all of the finishing paintwork. Will was hopping between tasks managing the process to avoid the damage to finished sashes that kept occurring the previous week, finishing touchups, and cleaning the glass that had not been cleaned in years! Barnabas attended a First Aid class for a majority of the day to learn about assessing and treating injuries that may occur in the field, he was able to join us near the end of the day and help paint window sashes.

On Wednesday Will, Randy and Hayley got to see the completion of their first big project, the windows at the McGraw ranch. It was a little bittersweet because we do not have any plans to return to the ranch, and the tranquil landscape that it is set in for the rest of the season.

It was very rewarding to look at the results of our hard work! While they were at the ranch Anna and Barnabis were working at Quarters Five, one of the historical homes on the east side of the park. Their day consisted of patching rotting window frames that will eventually lead to severe building damage. Max was off by himself working with Wilson to move the redwood we stained last week to the site it will be installed into. He also learned to to remove glazing from windows for them to be chemically stripped and restored.

At the end of the day Geoff met us at McGraw Ranch as we were competing the window restoration project. He was accompanied by Robert Burkhart, a writer from the local Estes park newspaper, who is putting a column together about important NR work being done around Estes park. He interviewed us with questions regarding why we are working for the RMC and how the work we do plays into the big picture of conservation and preservation. He also interviewed Barnabas, Anna and Max at their work site.

On Thursday we took on one more crew member, Jovonna from the Estes crew. Earlier in the week she took a fall during trail work and was not feeling ready to go back on trail but still wanted to work. So we adopted her for the day and she helped us start another round of picnic tables.  Earlier in the week Chuck and Bob went to the lumber yard and got 25 boards, enough for five more tables that will be used. During the day we completed the preparation of all the boards and began the assembly of one table. Every one we make has been looking better then the last! We can’t wait to see what the last one of the season will look like, it will probably be a museum piece.

Max set posts for the solar shower project at Wild Basin with Bob, Chuck and Wilson from the projects office, we all can’t wait to get more involved in this project in the coming week. Meanwhile Barnabas and Anna worked with Dolly to complete the window restoration project at Quarters Five. It was a stressful day for them because after adding new coats of paint the the windows in the building did not fit anymore and had to be trimmed down with the table saw in the shop requiring lots of back and forth. Little hiccups like this are very frustrating but need to dealt with regardless of how much it may stink.

D505D5F3-DA4E-481E-BB13-6E4BD040EC19

Max and Randy working the assembly line of sash painting.

509515A8-E5DC-4317-B6F7-6FB0FFF5D601

Hayley finishing up the prep work before painting the last set of windows. In the back left you can see the completed sashes that have been reinstalled.

9B3AA22C-206F-404D-B145-389BDCF675D3

Crew Leader, Will, battling the chilly morning with a puffy, beanie and layer of warm coffee.

At the end of the week we all look back in awe at how fast time flew by, its amazing we have all been living and working together for a month now.

-Will (Moraine Crew Leader)