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.

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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.

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James and Noah sawed this tree so fast!

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Reche lopping some branches.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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The “Solar Squad” reunited at last!

-Will (Crew Leader)

 

 

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In the Field: Week 2

Boulder Crew

Time flies when you’re smashing rocks! Week two for Boulder Crew gave us an opportunity to showcase how hard we can work, and what we can achieve as a team.

(Insert img5 caption: Boulder Crew, best crew!)

This past week, we spent our time at the South Boulder Creek trail in the James Peak Wilderness. Our focus for the week was the construction of a turnpike (raised section of trail intended to mitigate water erosion damage). To properly improve the section of trail we were working on, we were required to build a massive turnpike, roughly 40 ft and counting! Although turnpike construction may sound simple, it requires significant time investment in materials gathering. We spent the majority of our days collecting dirt, and hauling massive 100 lbs plus rocks. Overall, the construction of a turnpike of this magnitude was highly rewarding for all involved—many thanks were received from hikers, and of course their dogs!

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Terrific turnpikin’

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Jess and Rachel practicing the arduous yoga pose: gopher form

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Dead tired from dirt collecting.

 

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of working on the South Boulder Creek trail is the abundance of historic artifacts in the vicinity. This trail starts at the Moffat train tunnel, which travels roughly six miles through a mountain. The tunnel was built in the 1920s, and greatly influenced historic human activity around the James Peak Wilderness. Within only a few miles of the trailhead, there are about six historic structures. A hiker that had grown up in the area took some time to share what she remembered about it from her childhood. According to her, one of the old cabins along the trail was built in the 1890s, and was the birthplace of the local sheriff that worked during her childhood! She also shared with us that the site we were working around was the old Jenkin’s Saw Mill, constructed and operated to provide wood for the Moffat train tunnel. Furthermore, we learned that there used to be botany researchers based out of the valley working throughout the mountains. After learning of this, we began to piece together what the little human made items we found were used for. Among interesting things that we found were: leather work gloves, moccasins, whiskey bottles, leather fittings, square head nails, glass scientific apparatuses, and metal cabinet handles.

We rounded off this already full week with a little mini vacation to the Sangre De Cristo range in southern Colorado. Friday morning, we summited Humboldt Peak, enjoying the beautiful views of the many rugged peaks around. We played as hard as we worked this week and had a great time doing it. Cheers to many more successful weeks for Boulder Crew!

-Zach (Boulder Crew Leader)

Rawah Crews

The Rawah Mega Crew started week two off sharp. Chris from the USFS Canyon Lakes Ranger District Trail Crew commuted to Stub Creek on Monday and Tuesday to train and certify the crew as type II crosscut sawyers. Training consisted of two scenarios of bucking (sawing fallen trees) to ensure that our crew’s abilities are up to par.

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The mega crew hiking out after a day of training on the trail.

Following our two days of training, we began work in the Rawah Wilderness on the McIntyre Trail.  To start work, we had two sets of crosscut teams, as we expected to encounter many down trees.  The other six crewmembers were given the task of repairing drainage structures on the trail to mitigate water erosion.  IMG_2752IMG_2806

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Zoe, James, Noah, Stevie, and Jordan crosscutting.

As the week progressed, we were able to get ahead of schedule.  We had originally intended to be on McIntyre for two days, but due to the distance covered in our first day we decided to start the Link Trail on Thursday. Because of this, we had to do a little bit of midweek planning, as pictured below.  wf17FuHIRDeBLXPUSBZHyQ

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Crew Leaders Jordan and Noah prepare for the coming week.

Overall, we had a successful week here in the Rawah Wilderness and our expectations were exceeded! To wrap up a week of hard work, the mega crew is heading to Laramie, WY to visit and explore the area and then to Steamboat Springs, CO to enjoy some hot springs.  ehEOxHGmSz+rSL38b2gCHg

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Crew member Nathan celebrates a trail well-cleared.

Tune in later for next week’s adventures!

-Noah and Jordan (Rawah Crew Leaders)

Estes Crew

Purge the Spurge! This was the motto of Monday as we walked through a large field near Fall River Road. Our day started out in the NPS greenhouse meeting with the vegetation crew to talk about their goals for the week and safety. We then met with Glenn, expert herbicide sprayer and vegetation crew technician, at the Moraine “boneyard” to calibrate our spray packs. Our crew couldn’t help but sing the Ghostbusters theme song as we walked around spraying water out of large white packs on our back. The purpose of this was to see how much liquid was used when spraying a certain area. If too much or too little water got used, we had to adjust the drop size and how quickly we were moving. This helps insure that the invasive plants will die, but not too much herbicide will be used.

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Who you gonna call? Estes Crew!

After calibrating our sprayers, the Estes crew moved to a field next to the Fall River entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. Our goal was to spray the invasive species, Leafy Spurge, with herbicide. This species loves wet soil and sunlight. As we scanned the field for Leafy Spurge, the vegetation crew was able to teach us about other types of plants, such as wallflowers and lupins. At certain points we had to dodge through Aspen Trees to look for spurge. By the end of the day 7.5 acres of land had been covered.

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Nate and Glenn walking through the trees.

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The vegetation and Estes crew joining forces!

Tuesday was a training day for us. Our crew had the opportunity to join the National Park Service seasonal training day at the YMCA of the Rockies. In the morning, we learned about the different branches of service, safety, harassment, and park rules. One of our groups favorite quotes of the morning came from Barry Sweet, a worker in the wilderness office, referring to the Rocky Mountain Nation Park:

 “We continue to protect this treasure and people won’t know our names, but that’s okay because it isn’t about us.”

In the afternoon, the seasonal workers were given an orientation around the National Park Service headquarters. Groups rotated stations to learn about each division and what kind of service was provided there. We learned about the museum, the greenhouse, the research center, the search and rescue cache, the fire station, as well as the trails and signs building.

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Llamas are used by trails crew because they can carry up to 100 pounds and do well on uneven terrain and high altitudes.

At the end of the day we went back to the greenhouse and weeded through baby Ponderosa pine and willow trees.

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Cora, Sydney, and Jovonna weeding at the greenhouse.

The next two days were spent working on a wetland mitigation project by Sprague Lake trailhead. Over a 100 years ago the area was a wetland, but soon got converted to a horse stable. Since then the stable was moved across the lake, leaving the old wetland empty and full of dry soil.

Our job was to seed and blanket the soil in hopes that one day a healthy wetland would grow there. On Wednesday we carefully raked the slope of the land to help make an even terrain for the seeds to be thrown down on. Nate, Maximo, and Curtis worked a trench that was to hold the top of the erosion blanket.

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Nate, Maximo, and Curtis working hard to dig a trench.

We then began to lay out the erosion blanket, cutting it to perfectly match the slope. Laying down the fabric is important because it will allow the seed to grow while being protected from large gusts of wind, storms, and erosion.

The next day, we were finally ready to seed. This consisted of throwing down grass seed across the slope, then going back and raking it. Afterwards the pre-cut erosion blanket was laid down and staked it to the ground. As our crew dug and hammered away, we sang songs that ranged from 50’s bebops to early 2000’s rap music to keep the energy up. Soon our work was finished, and it was time to head home.

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Crew member Sydney securing the erosion blanket.

Our time with the vegetation crew was not only educational, but enjoyable; we cannot wait to see them again!

-Cora Starke (Estes Crew Member)

Moraine Crew

This past week, the work of the Moraine crew shifted. The second week of the season has come to a close and crew members are beginning to settle into their roles within the project shop and are looking forward towards their future projects. Mothballing, the picnic-table restoration, and housekeeping business of the previous week is wrapping up. This past week’s work was split between a preservation project at the famous McGraw Ranch on Monday/ Wednesday and a Park Service orientation for fresh-faced seasonal employees on Tuesday.

The McGraw Ranch, originally homesteaded in 1884, was transformed from a cattle/dude ranch to the Continental Divide Research Learning Center after its 1988 acquisition by the National Park Service. Now accommodating field scientists and researchers, the site strives to maintain its original architecture and facilities. The Moraine Crew this week helped to further this tradition through the restoration of original windows by using historically accurate preservation techniques. On Monday the crew removed and began stripping the old crumbling paint from the windows, green on the removable storm window and white on the window on the house. It takes a lot of time and patience to first find all the loose paint bits to remove, and give an even coat all while avoiding the original log work millimeters away from some section. We got about 1/5th  of the house done after Wednesday, and that is a success considering there are about 35 windows on the house! We’re not too upset about spending more time out at the McGraw Ranch later in the summer. This new paint will prevent the original windows from rotting away and preserve the original structure of the building.

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Before…

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After!

The NPS orientation on Tuesday also proved to be enlightening and educational, as the crew was introduced to the rich history and wide scope of Park Service operations. Presentations by employees and a tour of NPS facilities highlighted a sense of community and pride from regular public land stewards and extended the sentiment out to those working under more temporary circumstances. We also got randomly assigned seating and were able to talk to other employees such as interpretive rangers, law enforcement, and climbing rangers to name a few. This helped us see a lot of different opportunities and potentials niche in the NPS.

The crew ended their week with an exciting look forward. Thursday morning began with a briefing of upcoming projects and safety meetings exploring the potential hazards of each. Crew members showed enthusiasm towards their future work constructing Solar Showers and replacing sill-logs at Glacial Basin Ranger Station, and were quick to key in on safety concerns, as both projects require heavy machinery and face the potential for unwanted interference by a curious public. After this the crew split up with Randy, Hayley and Max finishing redwood staining while Barnabas and Anna went to continue striping windows but at a new location. While all this was going on Thursday, Will had to remain home because he had a severe case of dehydration that had onset through the week, but is following proper rehydration recovery and will be back to work on Monday!

-Will (Moraine Crew Leader)

Shadow Mountain Crew

Our first full week of work brought us just a few minutes down the road from Shadow Mountain to Roaring Fork. First spike of the season; what better occasion to pull out the cross-cut saws and clear some trails. I personally still prefer my silky.

Footnote 1: “Silky” is code talk for a much more compact hand saw.

Before we settled at camp, we spent that Wednesday limbing and bucking an armada of trees at another site further away; a great precursor to what would soon be the great war against tree pollen, saw dust, and sap. We are still fighting.

Wednesday came and went before we knew it, a hard day of work indeed, but a productive one. We all made it safely to our camp site that evening and had a restful night. Well, almost all of us. Poor Ric forgot his sleeping bag at the house and was shivering his tail off all night. Bruce didn’t do a great job of keeping him warm either.

Footnote 2: Bruce is our mint-green, F-250 pickup truck.

Rumor is he will be retired at the end of the season. He’s an old dog, but he’s been treating us well thus far. Any who, Niko was gracious enough to swing by the house and grab Ric’s sleeping bag when she went back to the village with Amy to pick up the llamas. You heard right, we have llamas, two of them to be exact. Kuzco and Kuzco. I can’t remember their legal names for the life of me. They are informally known as Two Socks and Oreo, and we make them carry our tools. Poor things don’t get paid. Emma made us a kick a** dinner Wednesday evening.

Rise and shine bright and early Thursday morning, 7 am. It was about a two-mile hike in before we started emerging from our cocoons as young sawyers with our crosscuts. The two miles turned into what seemed like four miles as we progressed further down the trail. The week was incredibly hot, and my forehead had never swam in so much perspiration, but I do enjoy wearing those hard hats. They make me feel invincible with my boots, eye-pro, and ear-pro.

Footnote 3: “Pro” is short for “protection.”

Those crosscut saws are bad to the bone, they can cut through anything. It is imperative we take care of them though, as they are the last of their kind. Pretty cool feeling using those saws; almost like handling a living relic that’s still got a lot of life in it. Our great leader, Mary, cooked us a kick a** dinner Thursday evening. Ric slept nice and warm this time. The two of us heard some strange animal right outside our tent in the early hours of Friday morn. It may have just been Emma very aggressively blowing her nose, who nose..

By Friday, I had already lost track of how many trees we’ve cut. At this point, our crew is close enough to plan each other’s weddings and openly talk about our grandest poops. No footnote needed for that last word, you read correctly. I thought the week would never end, ten hours of manual labor a day takes a lot out of you. It was a great time though, and I cannot wait to pick up where we left off come this Tuesday. Hard work is good work. We’ve gotten a lot done, and there is still much to be done. We are stewards of the land, and I am sure I speak for my crew when I say that it is an honor doing what we do.

So, Caitlin decided to drive us back Friday evening. As I recall Thursday morning, I remember all the flowers we observed on our hike, and how the kinds of flowers changed as we hiked higher up the trail. The first were pink. “Pretty pink flowers, that’s the technical term for them isn’t it?” said Kendra.

Footnote 4: “Pretty pink flowers” is slang for Yellow alpine saxifrage (Saxifraga serpyllifolia), or simply, wild roses.

-Adam (Shadow Mountain Crew Leader of the Week)

In the Field: Week 4

Red Feather Crew

This week the Red Feather Crew started out at Signal Mountain on Monday and hiked roughly 3.5 miles in. They ended up working until their first much needed 15-minute snack break with guests Geoff Elliot and Tommy Egland. After the two left, the crew continued on and dug 56 drains total that day just before getting stopped by a wild Moose. They hiked through a beautiful trail that went through what crew members Zach and Colin believe to be an end moraine based off of their education from college.

Zach Signal Mountain

On Tuesday the crew headed to Flowers Trail to start their one-day hitch. Little known to them they had a massive section of trail to clear of downed trees. Approximately 3.5 miles in crew members Stephanie, Zach, and Davina stumbled upon the mess while realizing the crew had left the cross cut in the vehicle. Stephanie took the lead and trekked back to get it while the two other members started limbing the branches.

Crew Lead of the week Colin was hiking back to find member Abby and Co-Lead Shelby who were about a mile behind because they noticed a large section that needed a drain and water bar. Much later that day the crew finally cleared the downed trees the covered much of the trail and headed out for the day.

Flowers Before

Flowers AfterThe lessons learned of the day were 1) ALWAYS bring every tool you need regardless and 2) Cross cutting is a tiring endeavor but well worth it.

On Wednesday after a much needed rest at a beautiful campsite in the Comanche Peaks, the crew headed back to Signal Mountain in hopes to work until they reached the peak and in hopes that the moose had wandered off. They discovered that the latter half of Signal Mountain had not been maintained for a very long time and began to work on drains and downed logs. They cut 11 trees that day and dug 24 drains. Crew members Davina and Shelby were working on cross cutting a tree 2 foot in diameter when all of a sudden their saw got stuck. With no way to get it out they thought up some ingenious ideas. After nothing worked, with quick thinking Davina suggested to cut where the tree was resting on another. Soon after they finished that cut the tree dropped and the saw was free! As Shelby and Davina were cutting the large log, the rest of the crew decided to head on and see what was up the steeper part of the trail. They realized that there was so much work to be done and that the latter half of Signal could potentially be a project for another time. When the rest of the crew members got back, Davina and Shelby showed their success and took to using the large log to canoe down the mountain and into the Poudre. Davina and Shelby

Thursday the Crew headed to Dadd Gulch just before splitting up for the weekend. The crew ended up hiking 7 miles that day and maintaining the frequently used trail. On their hike they ran into numerous trail goers and some Poudre Wilderness Volunteers. Most of the trail goers thanked the crew and gave recognition to the hard work that they were doing. After completing a very large water bar and drain Abby and Stephanie decided it was time to rest in their finished product because their work was so draining. The crew then headed out for the weekend with members Colin, Davina, Zach, Abby, and Stephanie all headed to Moab, UT while member Shelby trekked from the Poudre Canyon into Estes Park! abby and stephanie

-Colin Mortemore (Red Feather Crew Leader of the Week)

Shadow Mountain Crew

This past week, the Shadow Mountain Crew joined forces with the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps to tackle an incredible project. In recent years, the Morgan Gulch trail was rendered useless by pine beetle deadfall. Along with Arapaho National Forest USFS representatives and the RMYC, we set out on a four day long backcountry hitch to restore the trail and make it again accessible to the public.

Over the course of the week, as a direct result of hard work and camaraderie, approximately two miles worth of trail saw all deadfall removed. Final numbers soared, the crews removing hundreds upon hundreds of trees that had previously fallen on the trail and felling nearly a hundred more that stood alongside the trail and would imminently fall onto the trail if not attended to. The saw work was completed so efficiently that the crews had to readjust their plans as ensure there was work to be done the remainder of the hitch. In addition to the numerous trees removed, the crews were able to reestablish tread along two sections of meadow marked beforehand solely by orange and pink ribbons tied on the stalks of green corn lilies. The entire corridor was brushed, from the trailhead we began at to the point of our end goal. Drains were dug dutifully in areas that required better watershed. In addition to basic drain work, two large trenches, reminiscent of turnpikes, but not quite as extensive, were installed in especially muddy spots along the trail.

This hitch was not only successful in terms of work accomplished, but also brought our crew closer together. We bonded with each other on a deep level, through conversation held around the fire and on trail, cooperation regarding camp chores, and by encouraging each other to give it all we had, even on days we felt a little bit off. The work we completed on this trail established meaningful connections between the Shadow Mountain crewmates and the forest around them.

On the final day of the hitch, as we were finishing up one of the sections of meadow being retreaded, some gentlemen rode by on their horses. All thanked us for our hard work, and praised the quality of the trail. As they exited the meadow, the last man in line tipped his cowboy hat towards us all in gratitude. Though he did not ride off into the sunset, the admiration in his eyes was all we needed to witness, as we wiped the last drops of sweat off our muddied foreheads, to know that the job we did was truly meaningful to those who have stepped, and those who may step, into the wilderness of the Morgan Gulch trail.

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Additionally, below is a link to a video of the Shadow Mountain Crews first few weeks in the field!

 

-Mary Cretney (Shadow Mountain Crew Leader of the Week)

Estes Crew

This week, the Estes crew was back with the trails division. Most of the trail crews were starting to do work on their summer projects rather than routine maintenance runs. This means that they hike to their work site and work in one place all day rather than maintaining the trail as a whole. On Monday and Tuesday, the Estes crew worked on the Lawn Lake trail. They helped to re-route a 100 ft. section of eroded and muddy trail. To do this, they built a 20 ft. log check drain, moved many big rocks and trees, removed sod and duff, and hid the old trail with logs and brush. On Tuesday, a large bull moose wandered into their work site and poked around for a few minutes before running off into the woods.

On Wednesday, the Estes crew worked at Lawn Lake trail again, but hiked a mile farther to help with a much longer re-route. This project had already been started, and all that was left to do was remove rocks and build rock reinforcement walls on the downhill side. They adopted a section of rock wall that will be left for them to build. On Thursday, the Estes crew went straight to Glacier Gorge Trailhead in the morning so they could find parking before the crowds came. They hiked up to a river overlook where large safety rocks had been placed near the edge to prevent people from getting too close to the cliff. There was a large gap in the rocks where they had been pushed over the edge. Along with two NPS trail workers, the crew spent the majority of the day finding big rocks in the woods, digging them out, and rolling them into place along the cliff. In total, they set four enormous rocks in place using rock bars, picks, and their hands.

The Estes crew wrapped up their week by completing the “Grand Slam” on saturday (Flattop Mountain, Hallett Mountain, Otis Mountain, and Taylor Mountain). The hike reached 13,185 ft., and was 20 miles long. At the end, they glacaded down Andrews Glacier and hiked back to the Glacier Gorge trailhead.

-Sal Sharp (Estes Crew Leader of the Week)

Rawah Crew

This week marked our second week of work on our home turf for the Rawah Wilderness crew. After a slightly longer commute past Chambers Lake, we began work on the Blue Lake trail on Monday. We worked through a mile cutting trees and digging drains before hitting an old logging road. There wasn’t much work to do on this section of the trail, so we were able to cover some easy mileage. After the road ended, it was back to work as usual. Besides the typical fallen trees and filled-up drains, we ran into a couple of very muddy patches which required digging new drains to try to dry up the area.
We made it about 3.5 miles up the trail, and in our fervor trying to make it to a river crossing just up ahead, we accidentally ended up working about two hours of overtime.
On Tuesday, we returned to Blue Lake to work further up the trail. Today, however, we were graced with the presence of our RMC supervisors Geoff and Tommy. It took us an hour to hike back up to where we finished yesterday. It was pleasant to warm up by hiking along the stream and admiring our work from the day before. Past the stream crossing, we encountered a number of very large trees which had fallen across the trail. Plenty of work for the crosscut saw. Before Geoff and Tommy had to hike back, we decided to trek up to a nice meadow for a little break. Geoff pointed out some pretty yellow flowers called glacier lilies and mentioned that they were edible, so of course we had to sample some.
After our break, Geoff and Tommy bid farewell, and the Rawah crew decided to use some of our overtime to hike all the way up to Blue Lake. Along the way, we ran into more and more snow patches covering the trail. Once we reached the lake, we went for a little swim. It was rather chilly, as could be seen by our vigorous jumping jacks after getting out. Hiking back, we realized that we wouldn’t really be able to do much trail work with the path buried under snow. This being the case, we worked up as far as we could before enjoying a long hike back to the trailhead.

Wednesday brought us to the West Branch trail, one of the most popular of the Rawah Wilderness. We ran into a number of hiking groups grateful for our work. Work on this trail was slow due to large, rocky drains. We think the drains on this trail haven’t been maintained for at least a year or two, which would explain why they are so packed with dirt and debris. Nothing too exciting happened today, other than the usual fantastic views of the Rawahs.

Thursday! The end of a good week of work. We were back at West Branch to work a bit farther up. The crosscut crew walked a mile or two ahead, but to their disappointment, they found no fallen trees, and so they helped out with digging drains. After our morning break, we found two projects to work on: closing down a large social trail, and re-installing a missing rock check. The rock work brought back memories from previous weeks building rock walls, although we were thankful we only had to find and place a single rock. After returning to the luxurious Stub Creek bunkhouse, we cleaned and sharpened our tools, and then crew-leader-of-the-week Jacob Ng gave a lesson on tree identification.

For the weekend, our crew split up. Some members took a trip to Moab, Utah for a sweet few days of hiking through mind-blowing rock formations of arches and towers. The others decided to hike from the Comanche Peak Wilderness down through Rocky Mountain National Park into Estes Park, where all of the crews will be reconvening for our midweek training. We experienced some navigational confusion, and ended up hiking an unintended route. Nevertheless, it was a great weekend of backpacking through a beautiful area. Sadly, it will be another two weeks before we get back up to the Rawahs for our first backcountry hitch, so stay tuned!
– Jacob Ng (Rawah Wilderness Crew Leader of the Week)

Kawuneeche Crew

Monday:  To get into the swing of week four, we started out by staining a few picnic tables we had built before the weekend and then took a field trip to the west side of the park to see some of the projects that had been completed in past years with our supervisors Bob, Chuck, and Wilson. We first stopped and looked at the old CCC mess hall near Lake Irene that had been refurbished by a previous RMC crews. Following a stop at the west side project shop, we then had lunch and went to see the ice house rebuilt by Bob and Chuck, and got a down and dirty lesson of how to lasso by Wilson.

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Jon whips the lasso into the air with gusto on his third attempt at capturing the elusive wooden horse. Sadly, the beast got away.

 

 

 

On the return drive home we came upon a motor cycle crash off trail ridge road, and had to quickly jump into action as we were the first responders to the accident.  After radioing in for help, some of us helped direct traffic around the scene while others grabbed the first aid kit and went down a twenty-five yard embankment to the crashed motorcyclist.  Luckily for all parties involved, the rider was not seriously injured and did not need immediate first aid.  We stood by and did what we could until the first park ranger/paramedic arrived, and then left the scene to clear the road while our supervisors stayed to direct traffic.

Tuesday:  For our second day of work of the week, we alternated between breaking down old picnic tables, sanding new boards, and assembling and staining new tables.  All in all we broke down twenty five tables, which was the easy part, and then assembled five masterfully crafted tables to be delivered to eagerly awaiting park staff.

Wednesday: Wednesday brought a change of pace for the crew, with the highly-anticipated arrival of shingles necessary to continue progress at the Liefer cabin.  After running out of shingles for the second story coverings last week, we were eager to continue work on the cabin and hit the project hard all day making great progress.

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Ashley takes control while Joe goes for the candid photo

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Detailed oriented Garret and Kyle focus in

Thursday:  To finish off week four we wrapped up the Liefer cabin project by finishing the remaining shutters that required shingles, and then installing them around the second story of the cabin.  We then broke down all of the scaffolding, packed all the equipment and tools, and cleaned the area of all debris.

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 What Garret and Tate lack in fashion, they make up in painting skills

 

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The crew with some of the NPS staff were involved

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The South and East sides of the finished Cabin with Ashley and Izzy collecting lose nails/screws

Boulder Crew

Sunday

As the teeth of a crosscut saw bite through a log, pulled back-and-forth between two sawyers, the saw begins to sing. It is a high-pitched, undulating noise, and we created that melody many times on Sunday, when we finished up our five-day workweek with crosscut saw field training and certification. We, as well as ten volunteers for the Indian Peaks Wilderness Alliance, learned how to properly use single- and double-bit axes, saw wedges (which hold open the cut, or “kerf,” while sawing), and of course the crosscut saws themselves. Everyone in the program received intermediate sawyer certifications. Now we can operate crosscuts without a supervisor, so long as we stick to cutting smallish fallen logs off the trail, known as “bucking” trees. We unfortunately can’t fell live trees, but this is admittedly a good thing. Nobody wants a flattened RMC crewmember.

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Lucas getting some serious velocity on a double-bit ax during crosscut training.

Monday

Monday was the only day we had off in a grueling nine-day stretch that began on the previous Wednesday. That didn’t mean we were content to relax at the Homestead, however. After a short stop at the Happy Trails coffee shop in Ned—which has quickly become our go-to coffee and internet joint—we headed down into Boulder Canyon to (appropriately enough) do some bouldering. Next, it was on into Boulder itself, where most of the crew hiked and/or climbed the Second Flatiron, a steep, slablike mountain, and Andrea utilized the internet at a coffee shop to finish up some important tasks. We shopped for groceries following the hike and then drove back to the Homestead, our headlights chiseling out a path for us through the dark stone of the night. We got back late and went to bed, tuckered out.

Tuesday

The new workweek began at Buchanan Pass, a pass on the Continental Divide and its corresponding trail near the northern boundary of the Boulder Ranger District. We split up into three subcrews. Brendan swamped for Ben, our Forest Service contact, removing some forty fallen logs from the trail that Ben cut out with a chainsaw. Lucas and Louisa had a rough time trying to refurbish a miry drain before moving onto others for the rest of the morning and afternoon; Ally, Andrea, and I (Ryan, this week’s Leader of the Week) spent the day clearing corridor with loppers and a small handsaw. All told, it was a reasonably productive day, although everyone admitted that the ten hours had seemed more like twenty. We were all sluggish due to the dastardly duo of a five-day workweek and one-day weekend.

 

 

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Ben surveying some downed trees.

Wednesday

The road from Kelly Dahl to Nederland is steep and serpentine, winding down from our campground into town a few miles away. We make the drive every workday, so we know the curves by heart. But today we were in for a surprise. Coming around a bend, we met a government vehicle cruising up the road. The driver? Ben, who gave us a quick wave and then blew past us, headed for destinations unknown. We later discovered out he had been called up for fire duty in Brian Head, Utah. Unsupervised and unsure of what to do with our day, we called him and learned that we were to return to the Rainbow Lakes trail and brush it out. So that’s what we did, hiking past all four lakes and clearing 1.5 miles of corridor on the way back to the trailhead. Then we dug some drains, put in a short rock wall, and closed off some trail. During a snack break, we searched for a dead moose purported to be decomposing at the third lake, but to no avail.

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A newly closed-off section on the Rainbow Lakes trail.

Thursday

With Ben gone, we slept in. There was no reason for us to get up early as no one would be at the work center when we arrived. Jon, Ben’s boss and our supervisor for the day, was going to meet us there at 8:30. Thus, we started our day after an extra hour of sleep and a leisurely morning. Our worksite was up at the Brainard Lake area. Louisa and I worked with Jon, as well as Jake and John, two Indian Peaks Wilderness Alliance interns, to repair a handrail on a footbridge near Long Lake. I must say, it felt good to be working with wrenches again after weeks of using solely cutting and digging tools. Once we reached a good stopping point on the handrail, which we didn’t quite finish, we headed back to the Beaver Creek trail. That’s where Lucas, Ally, Andrea, and Brendan were using their newfound crosscut skills to buck eighteen fallen trees from the path. The day ended with some much-needed tool sharpening. We got back to camp at around 7:00, an hour later than usual.

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A group picture before work. Front row, from left: Andrea, Jake, Lucas, Ryan. Back row, from left: Louisa, Ally, John, Brendan.

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Andrea and Ally crosscutting a tree.

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Working on the bridge at Long Lake.

Friday

The weekend arrived on Friday, and we made the most of it. Brendan, Louisa, and Andrea headed to Boulder in the morning. There, Brendan and Louisa bought some new climbing shoes and dropped Andrea off with her mother, who had flown in from Puerto Rico to visit. Meanwhile, Lucas and I worked on some things back in Ned. Ally had gone home the night before to see friends and family, so by the afternoon there were only four of us remaining. We decided to cap off the day by climbing in Boulder Canyon.

Saturday

The Homestead is still chilly at 4:45 am, which was when Louisa, Brendan, and I grudgingly rolled out of the warm cocoons of our sleeping bags to go for a hike to Arapaho Glacier, a forty-minute drive away. The early start was ultimately worth it. We beat the crowds and summited South Arapaho Peak (elevation 13,397 feet) before eleven in the morning. The panoramic scene from the mountaintop was spectacular. It included a clear view of Winter Park, where Lucas was downhill mountain biking with a friend at that very moment. Come evening, Ally returned from an enjoyable stay at home, while Andrea continued to spend time with her mom in Boulder. Ally brought with her one of the most exciting purchases of the summer (except for a small bottle of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray, which has easily been our best investment). We had bought a miniature battery-powered projector on Amazon and had it shipped to her house, and now it was at the Homestead. We eagerly fired it up after eating. Sully was the movie of the night. The inaugural showing went well; there were only a couple minor hitches. And although the picture quality was subpar (this is a $60 projector, after all), we all agreed that it was a good buy. We finished the movie at around midnight and went to bed. In the morning, we would rouse ourselves and head to Estes for midweek, but for now we were content to sleep among the mountains we had called home for four weeks.

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Louisa and Brendan crossing a small stream flowing across the Arapaho Pass trail.

Until next time,

-Ryan Bodlak (Boulder Crew Leader of the Week)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above: Estes crew members Claire Gillett and Chris Rokusek along with crew leader Blake Crossland stand at the top of Andrews Glacier before glacading down it on feet, butt, and back.

 

Written by: Sal Sharp (Estes crew leader of the week)

In the Field: Week 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Miranda Thompson, Estes Crew Leader

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

-Hailey Frost, Boulder Crew Leader of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

Toby talks to Jed Toby learns to speak llama

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

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

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

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

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

-Izzy Owen, Shadow Mountain Crew Leader of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

-Dominic Rickicki, Kawuneeche Crew Leader

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

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

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The Rawah Crew above Blue Lake

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

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

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

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Crew Member Kyrie trudges through snowpack on Blue Lake Trail

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

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

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Crew member Eeland crosses a creek on the Rawah Trail.

 

-Garret Fox, Rawah Crew Leader of the Week

In the Field: Week 8 (Last Week of Field Work)

The Kawuneeche Crew’s last week with the special projects crew was highly productive and bittersweet. Monday we finished everything at the Lil’ Buckaroo Barn, and hauled out all of the tools and scaffolding, closing the doors and boarding up the windows for winter. On Tuesday, Jenna and I went over Trail Ridge Road to the Kaley Cottages project, putting up cedar shingle siding and weaving them on the corners. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to see the end of that project, but luckily we did get to see the finished barn, as well as the Mess Hall at Lake Irene, which the crew primed and painted on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Our fantastic projects crew supervisors, Bob and Chuck, gave us a pizza lunch on Wednesday too, and Geoff even joined us for painting. Over the course of the week, we used 10 gallons of primer and 20 gallons of Historic Dark Brown paint!

The finished south side of Lake Irene Mess Hall with new shingles, rafter tails, and paint.

The finished south side of Lake Irene Mess Hall with new shingles, rafter tails, and paint.

Dhante, Kris, and Jenna applying new mortor to reseal the Mess Hall

Dhante, Kris, and Jenna applying new mortor to reseal the Mess Hall

Joe and Logan priming the new log ends.

Joe and Logan priming the new log ends.

Jenna working to assimilate new logs into the historic structure.

Jenna working to assimilate new logs into the historic structure.

  • Margaret Johnson (Kawuneeche Crew Leader)

This last week the Red Feather Crew started off by heading back to the North Lone Pine Trailhead. We cleared nine down trees that were left, as we did not have a cross cut on our first maintenance run up the trail. The crew was excited to finally get to use their cross cutting skills. Along with clearing down trees we cleared drains, put in check dams, and removed duff form the trail.
Later in the week we spent a day working on the Kill Pecker Trail. As we made our way up the trail, we cleared drains, bucked out four down trees, and put in a few check dams to help with trail erosion. Lastly on our way out, with the whole teams effort, we made a safer river crossing by adding a log to the already existing bridge.
On our last day in the field we went back to the Mount Margaret Trail. We widened and reinforced the first turnpike we made of the summer to allow for easier travel and to assure its durability through the next few seasons. After we hiked a few miles to clear a down tree near the summit of Mount Margaret. Later in the day we sharpened tools and cleaned the bunkhouse in preparation for our departure to Estes Park for final week.

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Galen and Cortney use a crosscut saw to clear a downed tree.

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The crew on top of Mount Margaret

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Dom and the bridge crossing before the log addition.

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The widened and stabilized bridge crossing.

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Clearing drains on the North Lone Pine Trail

  • Tommy Egland (Red Feather Crew Leader)

For our final weekend on the west side, some of the Shadow Mountain Crew attempted to hike the local mountain of Grand Lake, Mt. Craig, located just up the East Inlet trail. After hiking for 7 hours, we decided to summit the unnamed peak just east of Mt. Craig instead. The bushwacking and ridge climbing was enough of an adventure that we decided Mt. Craig was for another time. After a 15-mile day of hiking we enjoyed some ice cream at our favorite snack shack in town!

The Shadow Mountain Crew wrapped up their summer building a turnpike on an urban trail that was adopted by a fellow citizen who bikes the trails almost every other day with his wife. These trails were very highly populated by mountain bikers. At the end of the day, Elias, MegEllen and Andy went to check out the project site for our last day. On our way out of the forest we smelt a fire burning, found the campsite where someone left an unattended fire burning and were able to save the day by putting it out! It was fun to act on it fast!

After we completed the turnpike, our supervisor graciously held a “box social” for our last night in town. Andy graciously hosted the 6 of us, our other two supervisors, Kendra and Cory for a party full of cheese, dough and all the toppings you could ever imagine! After we stuffed ourselves with pizza, we gave Cory one last goodbye, as we had to send him off for a fire. The next day it felt as though we were missing a huge part of our crew. It was unfortunate to not have Cory be there on our last day with the Forest Service because we formed great relationships with these guys! We want to give all three of them; Andy, Cory and Kendra a huge thank you for an awesome summer.

We were still able to have a blast building our very last buck and rail fencing up at East Elk Meadow. We finished our season with the same task that we had at the very beginning of the summer, and we were lucky enough to be in the same area as the first buck and rail fence that we built. We were able to Elk Meadow at the end of the day and were able to compare our early work to our most recent.

The summer is now coming to an end as we spend our last week in Estes with the rest of the crews. It is starting to feel a little surreal! This is shadow, thanks for reading all summer! Much love from the entire crew!

  • MegEllen Kimmett (Shadow Mountain Crew Leader)

The previous week Boulder Crew spent camped beneath the southern facing cliffs of St. Vrain Mountain, just south of the park, in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. With packs stuffed to the point of exhaustion, and spare hands carrying tools they hiked up to the junction of the Buchanan Pass Trail and the St. Vrain Glacier Trail. After struggling with hanging eight days worth of food for eight people, and setting up a tarp for their “kitchen”, they crawled into their tents for the long week ahead.

The second day half of the crew found suitable trees to structure a new bridge to replace the dilapidated bundle of boards held together by a dog leash. The other half of the crew hiked back to Camp Dick and retrieved more tools and supplies. By the time both crews reunited in the afternoon, there were two logs almost ready to be moved to the bridge. The first night cook groups were established and everyone became familiar with backcountry foods, instant mashed potatoes, instant pasta, and instant rice.

The third day there was more prep work to do on the first two logs and the next two logs were felled. Near lunch logs were placed near the bridge and a rock sill was constructed to tie the first logs into. The second pair of logs was larger and required much more effort to prepare but the crew was rewarded with a maintenance run up to Red Deer Lake where our day ended and some went for a dip in the chilly water. While continuing on the second pair of logs the following morning, a sill was made for the center point of contact of the bridge with reclaimed pressure treated wood. The first pair of logs was tied in and shaped with an axe to be flush and level.  On the southern side of the bridge a sill was made out of a square of logs. After notching the second air of larger logs to fit flush and level upon placement, the whole crew worked to move the behemoth logs into place with hand tools.

The next day some of the crew put finishing touches on the bridge and the other half of the crew worked their way up the St. Vrain Glacier Trail, trimming trees and brush and digging drains.

With the bridge finished there was time the sixth day to work up to tree line on the Buchannan pass trail. Near the top of the trail we encountered a jungle of willows at points. The pass provided quite the view, keeping the crew in high enough spirits to sing the whole way down the trail to camp.

The seventh day we built a rock pathway to the south end of the bridge and cleared the St. Vrain Mountain Trail of incredibly old trees. This must have been the most intense work day, with one group crosscutting most of the day and the other group hauling and placing huge rocks to keep hikers dry.

On our final day, not only of the hitch but of the season with the Forest Service, we scoped out the rest of the St. Vrain Glacier Trail and packed up and hiked out midday. Though we had less food than we had started with, we surely had more weight in tools to make up for it. Most of the crew hiked out the nearly six miles without stopping in hopes for a quality meal soon after. After some closing meetings with our Forest Service supervisors and a hasty unloading of the trucks we were taken out to dinner at the local pizza joint in Nederland, thus ending our awesome 8 day backcountry hitch.

Deconstructing the old bridge.

Deconstructing the old bridge.

Annie digging a drain on the Buchannan Pass Trail

Annie digging a drain on the Buchannan Pass Trail

  • Andy Martin (Boulder Assistant Crew Leader of the Week)

For our last hitch, the Rawah Crew headed up the Rawah Trail to work in the Sandbar and Rawah Lakes area and up the Blue Lake trail to finish maintaining trail that was covered with snow earlier in the season. Since the Sandbar lakes is one of the more frequently visited areas in the Rawahs our focus was on removing illegal campsites (those within 200 feet of water or the trail). In addition to this we worked on maintaining trail. The first day we hiked 7.5 miles up the Rawah trail towards the lakes to set up our base camp. After setting up camp we headed up the trail towards Big Rainbow and Upper Sandbar Lakes. Once we got up to the lakes we worked on removing illegal fire rings, dispersing burnt rocks, removing trash, dispersing the ash and duffing the area. Between lakes we worked on dips and drains to help keep water from eroding the trail.

The second day we headed from camp back to the Rawah Trail towards Rawah Lakes number One and Two. We worked on dips and drains up to the lakes where we began to assess the campfire situation. We spent the day working on fire rings around the lakes and then packed up camp and headed down the Rawah Trail to do maintenance. We worked on dips and drains down the trail, focusing on areas that were heavily saturated with water.

The third day we hiked the Blue Lake Trail where we worked on maintaining 3 miles of trail that had previously been covered with snow earlier in the season. We worked up the trail the Blue Lake then headed off trail to Hang Lake where we looked for illegal fire rings. That wrapped up our backcountry hitches, after a few initial cloudy and rainy days on the Rawah Trail; we finished up with a beautiful day of work at Blue Lake.

Crew Member Brian taking apart a fire ring at Big Rainbow Lake

Crew Member Brian taking apart a fire ring at Big Rainbow Lake

Crew members Johnny and Gus working to Upper Sandbar Lake

Crew members Johnny and Gus working to Upper Sandbar Lake

Rawah Crew having a chilly start to the morning on the Rawah Trail

Rawah Crew having a chilly start to the morning on the Rawah Trail

— Des Otis (Rawah Assistant Crew Leader of the Week)

This week was the perfect bookend for the Estes Crew’s season. Monday we were back at Lilly Lake working on the handicap trail, and had quite a productive day, which set us up to finish the trail on Tuesday. This was the project that we began on our all crew work day during midweek, and am now finishing it after working on it with other volunteer groups throughout the second half of the season. The other large project we worked on this season was at Cow Creek with the Llamas. Wednesday, we finished up the log check project near the Cow Creek trail head. The llamas took a great load off of us as they hauled the many truck loads of rock and dirt up to our checks. Seeing these two projects to completion was satisfying and meaningful to us all. Thursday was a great last day, as we did a maintenance run beginning at the North Fork trail head, hiking to Lost Lake, a 17 mile day. Crunched for time, we pushed a fast pace, and made our last day with Dave and Matt awesome.

Lost Lake Trail

Lost Lake Trail

Volunteer work day with Conservancy Members and Poudre Wilderness Volunteers

Volunteer work day with Conservancy Members and Poudre Wilderness Volunteers

Andrea at Lily Lake

Andrea at Lily Lake

-Bryce Goldade (Estes Crew Leader)

Crew Spotlight: Rawah Wilderness Crew

As we enter the final week of the season, each crew will be recounting some memories and highlights from their season from each crew members and leader’s perspective. These will come in the form of pictures and stories from both their work completed and their time in Colorado. First up for the week is the Rawah Wilderness Crew!

Courtney Ross (Rawah Wilderness Crew Leader)

Favorite Picture:

Rawah Crew on the Big South Trail

Rawah Crew on the Big South Trail

Favorite Memory: Going along with my favorite photo, our first backcountry hitch on the Big South Trail was one of my favorite work adventures. The trail was challenging and mosquitoes quite vicious but hiking along the Poudre River Canyon provided us with some unforgettable views!

Favorite Work Project: The Rawah crew did trail maintenance on most of the trails in the Rawah Wilderness, so we didn’t devote a ton of time to project work. With that being said, we were able to build a few rock walls on the Roaring Creek Trail, which was really rewarding. The trail was rather steep and rocky with few drains, which likely caused the eroded sections. Hopefully our work will make the not so friendly trail safer and easier to travel!!

Johnny Iglesias (Rawah Crew Member)

Favorite Photo:

One of my favorite parts of doing trail work is cross cutting fallen trees off the trail. This moment was captured on the McIntyre trail in the Rawah Wilderness.

One of my favorite parts of doing trail work is cross cutting fallen trees off the trail. This moment was captured on the McIntyre Trail in the Rawah Wilderness.

Favorite Memory: Over the course of this summer, the majority of our work weeks took place camping in the back country of the Rawah wilderness. My favorite experience cannot be narrowed down to one moment but a several. At the end of almost every trail we worked we either reached a mountain lake, peak or pass that were all breath taking and special in their own ways. Reaching these sought out for destinations made our long work weeks feel that much more rewarding.

Favorite Work Project: My favorite project this summer was building water bars which would act as a funnel to channel water off the trail. While we could not see the functionality of the water bars when we first installed them, as the summer continued and we revisited some of the trails we could see that our water bars were indeed working. One in particular was a water bar I built with Gus Waneka on the McIntyre trail. When we hiked by it several weeks after building it, it looked like it’s been there for years and it was a reassuring sign that it would be there for years to come.

Tom Enright (Rawah Crew Member)

Favorite Photo:

This photo took place on a backcountry trip up to Twin Crater Lakes in the Rawah Wilderness. Geoff was able to join us on this day of trail work. Nothing especially remarkable happened on trail that day, but the photo captures our hike leading up to an incredible area of the Rawah Wilderness. I think the photo captures the essence of our crew and the Rawah Wilderness while also displaying the beauty of our everyday job this summer.

This photo took place on a backcountry trip up to Twin Crater Lakes in the Rawah Wilderness. Geoff was able to join us on this day of trail work. Nothing especially remarkable happened on trail that day, but the photo captures our hike leading up to an incredible area of the Rawah Wilderness. I think the photo captures the essence of our crew and the Rawah Wilderness while also displaying the beauty of our everyday job this summer.

Favorite Memory: My favorite memory of the summer was jumping in Blue Lake with our crew in the Rawah Wilderness at the conclusion of our final day of trail work.  We actually worked a different portion of the Blue Lake trail at the start of the season in June when much of the upper part of the trail was covered in snow and the lake was still covered in ice.  I really enjoyed this day early in the season because it was the first time we had worked a trail up to a beautiful alpine lake.  I never expected to return to Blue Lake during work, and it seemed fitting that we concluded our season by jumping into the now thawed lake as a crew.  Our crew become close friends while working in the Rawah Wilderness, and jumping into Blue Lake as a conclusion to our summer’s work will always be a lasting memory of the great times we shared together while maintaining trails.

Favorite Project: My favorite project I completed this summer occurred on the Medicine Bow Trail in the Rawah Wilderness.  The project involved clarifying the trail corridor in a section of trail immediately close to a creek crossing that had become overgrown to the point where it was nearly impossible to identify where the trail led.  In fact, on a recreational weekend hike I took with my fellow crewmember Gus Waneka earlier in the season, we got lost at this section when we couldn’t find the trail after crossing the creek from the other side.  It was snowy and wet at the time of the recreational hike in mid-June, but I still immediately recognized the area where we had lost the trail.  I really enjoyed digging a new trail, especially given the frustration I had personally experienced in getting lost at this junction earlier in the summer because of an unclear corridor.  The personal connection I held with this section of trail made the work we did to clarify the trail corridor all the more fulfilling because I knew fellow hikers in the future will not become lost as Gus and I had in June.

Desiree (Des) Otis (Rawah Crew Member)

Favorite Picture:

Storm clouds rolling in at Island Lake

Storm clouds rolling in at Island Lake

Favorite Memory: It was our first entirely backcountry hitch after mid-week and we headed out from the West Branch trailhead. On our last day we headed up towards Carey Lake, which is in alpine. We worked up the trail and were planning on making and enjoying our dinner when we got to the lake later that day. Once we made it to Carey Lake we began to set up for dinner and a huge storm cloud rolled up on top of the ridge above the lake. There hadn’t been any thunder so we had no idea it was coming and weren’t sure if it would actually culminate in a storm. We began to pack our things and decided since we were above tree line it was better to head down as opposed to waiting to see what happened. We were putting our raingear on when it started to hail and it was time to start moving. We were making our way out of the alpine when we heard a huge clap of thunder right above us, which prompted us to get low and run. We made it down below tree line before we heard any more thunder and the rain wound up holding off for the rest of night and we made dinner along a creek down the trail. This was my favorite experience because of the way we worked as a crew together, even though we were not doing trail work, it still involved making quick decisions and we didn’t let the weather dampen our dinner.

Favorite Work Project: My favorite project was on the McIntyre trail where there was a section of trail that had been flooded out from river runoff. It was our first big project as a group and we went back to it a couple of times to see if what we had done to keep the water off was holding and the build up the trail from where the water had rutted it. At first we built a rock wall where the creek was flowing onto the trail to keep the water off it, then we drained the standing water from the trail back into the creek about 20 feet down trail from the wall. This took a significant amount of time because the water was so high from snow melt at the beginning of the season a lot of work had to go into making sure the wall would hold. The next hitch we went back and added rock checks and built up the trail where water had rutted out the dirt, making it difficult to walk on and very dangerous for stock to travel on. This was my favorite project because it was our first opportunity to work on trail as a crew and start learning about how things were going to work for the rest of the season. The project went really well and the wall is still holding and although our first project may have not been our strongest, it was a great learning building experience.

Brian Eachus (Rawah Crew Member)

Favorite Picture:

The crew being a little goofy while hiking out from our first 3 day back country trip of the season on the Big South trail.

The crew being a little goofy while hiking out from our first 3 day back country trip of the season on the Big South Trail.

Favorite Memory: My favorite moment of the season was the first back country trip that we took. It was pretty early in the season, however I had been waiting since I was accepted to the program to get back out to Colorado and do some back country trail work on the Big South trail that runs in a canyon along the Poudre River. The trail is 7 miles long, and we spent the first part of our first day hiking into the trail about halfway and setting up camp and one of the many designated camp sites. The trail is pretty remote, but throughout the trip, we saw a ton of people out enjoying hiking and fishing along the trail. It was a really great first backpacking trip of the season that I had been waiting quite a few months to go out on. Big South was a beautiful trail to work, following the Poudre River all the way up the canyon, with lots of awesome wildlife flowers and wildlife along the trail as well.

Favorite Work Project:

On our joint backpacking trip with the Red Feather crew, we set up a base camp right before the trail forked off. Right before the fork there was a broken bridge over a creek that was quite unstable that we crossed everyday working the trails. On our last day of the 4-day trip, a group of us stayed behind to repair the bridge. We spent the morning crosscutting a few trees and gathering rocks to make steps and wedge the logs together and make snug. After some puzzles with getting the rocks to fit and finding the right place on the creek to put the almost too short logs, we got the bridge stabilized and wide enough to cross safely. It was the first major project of the season that I had done, since a lot of my crews work included general trail maintenance (clearing drains and trees as well as tread work). It was pretty cool seeing it go from just a few flimsy logs across a creek to a quite stable bridge that will hopefully last for quite a few years!

Gus Waneka (Rawah Crew Member)

Favorite Photo:

This photo is one of my favorites. In this photo the crew is boiling water on a very cold morning in the backcountry. I love this photo because it shows our crews ability to make the best out of every situation. Even though our water filter had just broken, we were all thirsty and tired, and the temperatures were frigid, the crew was upbeat and joyful about the work day ahead.

This photo is one of my favorites. In this photo the crew is boiling water on a very cold morning in the backcountry. I love this photo because it shows our crews ability to make the best out of every situation. Even though our water filter had just broken, we were all thirsty and tired, and the temperatures were frigid, the crew was upbeat and joyful about the work day ahead.

Favorite Memory: This summer I learned how to fly fish.  In the Rawahs, I had plenty of opportunities to fish in both rivers and mountain lakes.  I really enjoyed spending time on the beautiful Laramie River in particular, where I was able to catch some larger rainbow trout.  My fellow crew members who fished were great resources for learning and were all eager to help me hone my skills.  I’m glad I have had the opportunity to fish as much as I did this summer and I hope that fly fishing will be a hobby for the rest of my life.

Favorite Work Project: My favorite project this summer was getting to complete tread work on the West Branch and Rawah trails.  As a Fort Collins local, I’ve had ample opportunities to hike these trails over the years and they are some of my favorite in the state.  It felt good to work on the trails that have carried me over miles of good memories.  I know that when I hike these trails in the future I will always remember all the hard work I did to make them better.

In the Field: Week 6 (Part One)

This week the Rawah Crew went out on another 4-day hitch, working part of the Link, Medicine Bow and McIntyre Creek trails. We had over 15 miles of trail to cover so our main priorities were clearing the downed trees from the trail corridor, major drains and defining the trail corridor. The Medicine Bow Trail is pretty lightly used; therefore some sections of the trail were grown over completely. We retreaded a 150+ ft. section of trail that was covered up and made finding a stream crossing quite difficult. We also spent time marking the trail by constructing cairns (stacks of rocks) through marshy and densely forested sections to help guide hikers through some rough sections of the trail. These areas of the Rawah Wilderness have some sections with quite a lot of beetle kill and therefore there was a lot of work to be done clearing trees. Along the way we cleared close to 50 downed or hazard trees, 20 on the Link Trail and upwards of 30 on the Medicine Bow Trail.

On our last day, we made our way up into the alpine on the Medicine Bow Trail and were rewarded with some magnificent views of the Rawahs, Medicine Bows, and other ranges in southern Wyoming. With the Medicine Bow Trail recieving little traffic, the trail was not apparent. The crew followed cairns marking the trail up over the ridge of the Medicine Bow Mountains battling 50 mph winds (with otherwise beautiful and sunny weather), to meet up with the McIntyre Creek trail. We removed a few trees from the trail and cleared drains on the 4.8 mile stretch and finally met up with the Lower McIntyre Trail (cleared early on in the season). After hiking the final stretch back to the trailhead, we had put in an tiring 12 mile day.

With the Rawah Wilderness and trail system being so remote, we usually don’t have any prior knowledge of trail conditions when going into a project. Therefore, priorities may change quite a bit from the original intentions. Once we began in on Link and Medicine Bow trails, we realized that there was a lot of work that was needed with trail corridor clearing (trees) and work defining the trail in some areas and had to shift our project focus.

Before the new tread work

Before the new tread work

Completed new tread

Completed new tread

The Rawah Crew atop the Medicine Bow Trail.

The Rawah Crew atop the Medicine Bow Trail.

– Brian Eachus (Rawah Assistant Crew Leader of the Week)

The Kawuneeche Crew completed one half of the Little Buckaroo Barn roof this week, using new tools and asphalt shingles, giving the barn a polished silver gleam. With one side completed, we disassembled and reassembled the scaffolding in the opposite side of the barn. After half a day of demo, the second side of the barn is bald and ready for new tar paper and shingles! We also removed the rotted rafter tails and fitted new ones into their places, ready for epoxy assemblage next week. Now experienced roofers and good restorationists, our work is going a lot faster and more fun! Throughout the week the a few of the crew members reported to the east side of RMNP to help the Special Projects division reside one of the cottages in Moraine Park alongside NPS professionals from all over the country participating in the PAST Program, a training program to certify NPS staff as historic preservationists. Lastly, Geoff joined us for a day of work and got to help the first half being finished, and joined us for crew dinner of Logan’s venison burgers. Yum!

Replacing rafter tails on Little Buckaroo Barn

Replacing rafter tails on Little Buckaroo Barn

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First side completed!

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Onto the second side!

– Margaret Johnson (Kawuneeche Crew Leader)

This was another exciting week for the Boulder Crew. We spent Tuesday working on the Bright trail, a flood damaged trail alongside the North St. Vrain creek. We installed drains and and cut back the trail corridor. On Wednesday we drove and hiked to the Bright Trail extension, where we logged out downed trees and installed drains. On Thursday we returned to the Bright Trail and finished installing drains that we didn’t reach on Tuesday. Finally, on Friday, we returned to the Buchanan Pass Trail where we spent the first three weeks of our season. After inspecting the bridge and turnpike that we built, we hiked further along the trail and cleaned drains. We then returned to the work center and began to prepare for our 8 day bridge building backcountry project, which begins on Tuesday. It’s been a great week and we are super excited to spend some time living and working in the wilderness over the next two weeks!

Annie on the Bright Trail

Annie on the Bright Trail

– Reid Grinspoon (Boulder Crew Leader)

This week, the Shadow Mountain Crew had a break from being backcountry and spent the week doing maintenance runs around the Monarch Lake region.

On the first day of the work week, the whole crew and three members of the Forest Service set off on an unmarked trail to Strawberry Lake. The goal was to dig drainage dips  to maintain the trail and help prevent erosion. The crew stopped for a short snack break at the beautiful Strawberry Lake. This lake is surrounded by fragile marsh and is highly impacted by hiking traffic. The group then split, with half of its members continuing down Strawberry Bench trail, and the other half heading down Doe Creek Trail. These trails are not designated wilderness, so the crew got an opportunity to observe their Forest Service coworkers using chainsaws, rather than crosscut saws, to clear tress. This sure made the trail clearing process much quicker and noisier! Towards the end of Doe Creek Trail, the Shadow Crew encountered some peculiar live animal traps set to capture a missing poodle named Jax.

The next day the Shadow Mountain Crew split in half once again to cover more ground on the High Lonesome Trail. Combining efforts, the two groups were able to dig dips and clear trees off over 20 miles of trail.

Geoff accompanied the Shadow Crew to work the next day to restore the highly eroded Wolverine Bypass Trail. Geoff taught the crew how to construct check dams on especially steep sections of trail using large rocks. The crew spent a good portion of the day transporting heavy rocks to the trail in order to slow the flow of water down the trail.

After such a busy work week, the Shadow Mountain Crew was excited to stop at the local Kum and Go to celebrate the unofficial tradition known as “f’real friday”. The crew got their milkshakes and filled up on gas, then headed back to the Shadow Mountain Village for a relaxing weekend.

Clearing trees on the High Lonesome Trail

Clearing trees on the High Lonesome Trail

Enjoying a snack on the Wolverine Trail

Enjoying a snack on the Wolverine Trail

Installing check dams on teh Wolverine Bypass Trail

Installing check dams on the Wolverine Bypass Trail

– Rachel Dorencz (Assistant Crew Leader of the Week)