Conservation Corps – In the Field: Week 6

This week the Boulder Crew said an early goodbye to our homey campsite at Kelly Dahl and hello to our new campsite in the beautiful Brainard Lake Recreation Area where we’ll be carrying out trail work for the rest of the season. After a successful move in to our new campsite, our week began on the Mitchell/Blue Lake trail, where we spent the day digging drains, building check steps, and constructing massive water bars to divert water off of the trail. By the end of the day, we had completed 6 drains, 5 check steps, and 4 water bars!

A man laying on a rock in the woods.
Luke putting a water bar rock into perspective (He’s 5’11!)

On Wednesday, the Boulder crew took on a new role within the field that is trail work; pack mule. In order to prepare for our last two weeks of work on the Isabelle Glacier trail, we loaded up our packs with tools and camping gear and proceeded to hike a strenuous 3 miles to our hitch site. From there, we offloaded our camping gear and hiked another strenuous 2 miles to our worksite to cache the rest of the tools. Although tough, this hike definitely kept things interesting as we were sliding down snow fields, crossing rushing rivers, and scrambling across big boulders (all while carrying rock bars!) to reach the work site. At the end of the day, our crew had hiked over 10 miles carrying various amounts of gear and tools throughout the way. In the words of our favorite forest service partner Aggie, that’s what you call glory hiking!

A group of hikers posing for a photo.
Boulder Crew + Aggie putting on their game faces for the long hike ahead
Two people hiking up a snowy mountain with a lake in the background.
Sam and Daniel sliding down one of the many massive snow fields overlooking Lake Isabelle

Our week concluded back on the Lake Mitchell/Blue Lake trail, where a section was marked for a reroute to avoid a rushing river that is currently occupying the trail. A reroute is a long process that requires many steps in order to be successful, first of which is to clear brush/vegetation along the path of the future trail. With our freshly sharpened loppers and brand new silky saws, the Boulder crew was ready to clear anything that stood in our path. Following blue flags which marked the center of the future trail, we made our way through the forest and created a clear corridor within the dense trees/shrubs, placing all the cut down vegetation uphill and out of sight from the trail.

After completing another fulfilling week of trail work, we made our way to Backcountry Pizza in Nederland to treat ourselves with pizza, subs, and burgers. After seeing our beautiful worksite for the next 2 weeks, Boulder crew is ready and excited to close off the season on a strong note!

A group of hikers on a rocky trail in the mountains.
Hiking tools in to the worksite on Isabelle Glacier

-Luke Paczos, Boulder Crew Leader of the Week

The Estes Crew worked hard this week as we cleared many drains, built footbridges, and peeled logs. On Monday, the Estes crew was sent off to clear drains along the Emerald Lake loop. We past Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, then made our way up to Emerald. Lake Haiyaha was our last stop for the day then we continued clearing drains for the last mile and a half to the parking lot. The 8 mile trip was a good break from our recent work on the footbridge.

Two men standing next to a lake with shovels.
Nick and Rafa at Dream Lake

Tuesday was an interesting day because one of our fearless crew members, Rafa, was absent due to an elk survey he attended. However, not all hope was lost because Larimer County Conservation Corps came to help us with the foot bridges. LCCCC was a great help to us as they helped haul the 8 logs and 70 decking pieces to a new cache between Jewel Lake and Black Lake. On top of that, we managed to peel 20 logs to use on the bridges.

A group of people posing for a photo in the woods.
Peeling logs for bridge stringers

LCCC was by our side on Wednesday too. The NPS staff taught us how to build the structure of the bridges and how to remove the dead planks from the ground. After that, we peeled about 10 more logs and moved them to the designated site. It was a very productive day and we learned a lot.

A person is walking across a wooden bridge in a wooded area.
The footbridge (a work in progress)

Thursday went by very fast and was more relaxed; Rafa returned from his elk surveys so the whole crew was finally together. Together, we peeled around 15 logs and hauled them to our cache. By the end of the day, the bridge was looking more like a walkway and less like an obstacle course of logs. The crew is proud of their work and can’t wait to work more next weeks.

-Hope Theander, Estes Crew Leader of the Week

The Moraine Crew has been very busy this week! Preparing the comfort station in Moraine Park Campground has been a large project, combining efforts from the Moraine Crew, our fearless leaders Bob and Chuck, and three seasonal employees. This week, the crew helped shape and prep a sidewalk going in around the comfort station. This is a crucial step in the stations completion, and the sidewalk must be made ADA accessible. This leads to some tricky and unique problems concerning how the sidewalk is constructed. But it is an interesting challenge! Placing large cedar siding for said sidewalk was also a challenge…but it looked great in the end!A piece of wood is sitting in the dirt next to a building.
Laying roadbase was a large task this week. Roadbase (a dirt and rock mixture) helps form the area and helps the ground better accept our next adventure….asphalt! After tamping and flattening the sidewalk and it’s roadbase cover, it was time for asphalt.

A man is working on a dirt path in front of a house.

A man is using a machine to smooth out the dirt.

The type of asphalt we placed was unique…a gravelly mixture that was brought via dump truck and had to be shoveled and wheelbarrowed to its resting places. Workers then used hand tools to flatten the asphalt, and a level was used to make sure the ADA requirements were met. Tamping flattened and pressed the asphalt, this was done both by hand and a gas powered tamp…which is always fun to watch and run. A man is laying asphalt on a sidewalk.

A black paved path next to a tree in a wooded area.

Some painting and caulking was also completed, led by our painting connoisseur Jazmin. This made the inside of our bathrooms look spick and span. Some outside painting was done as well. While Tom and Dolly (two of our seasonal coworkers) worked on windows and their trims, the rest of us laid more roadbase, and eventually topsoil. The topsoil ensured the area outside the comfort station looks really nice and somewhat natural. A few eye pleasing rocks were
added also!

Heavy rainstorms and the distant (or not so distant) thunder had lurked and struck all week, but did not slow us down much. We also joined Bob and Chuck on an adventure to the west side of the Park to survey future projects, as well as check up on past ones.

Everyone is working hard, and having fun! We are all enjoying the progress we are making on the comfort station, and can’t wait to see the final result! Peace out and stay tuned folks!

-Jake, Moraine Crew leader of this week

This week the Shadow Mountain Crew was working alongside the Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) crew to prep for a big volunteer group that is aiming to create a new single and double track OHV trail.

A group of people with backpacks walking through the woods.
Hiking in along the future OHV trail corridor

The crew’s week began on Wednesday. To begin the week, the crew was cutting sections of wood and rebar for multiple bridges on the trail, and then transporting them off at their respective bridge locations.

A man is using a shovel to dig a hole in the ground.
Cutting rebar for bridges

The rest of the week the crew continued to move more materials. We also swamped trees that needed to be cleared off the trail after being cut by OHV crew sawyers. The Crew also had to move in 960 pounds of concrete to one of the bridge sites. The Shadow Mountain Crew definitely had to do a lot of heavy lifting this week.

To celebrate their hard work the crew went skydiving on Sunday on their day off. They had a blast!

A group of people in blue jumpsuits posing for a photo.

-Hayden, Crew Leader of the Week

On Monday July 15 at 7am, the Rawah Crew started their one and a half hour drive to the Link Trailhead located in the Rawah Wilderness. Everyone was filled with stoke and excited to finally begin the much anticipated eight-day hitch.

A group of people taking a selfie in a circle.
Rawah Crew energized for their hitch!

When we arrived we did our JHA’s and then started our eight mile trek up to base camp near tree line. As the afternoon showers approached, we hunkered down under some trees till the storm passed. Once we got up to treeline, we found the perfect spot to call home for the next three nights.

A group of people with backpacks and shovels posing for a photo.
Rawah Crew on the hike in

A group of hikers walking through a grassy field.

On day two the plan was to hike the last few miles left on Link Trail. We found a gorgeous meadow where we took our snack break and refilled water. We then headed out towards McIntyre lake, running into snow on the way. This day Miles and Nathan were on saw crew and removed a total of 21 trees from trail. Zoe and James constructed a water bar and the last 4 of us constructed 40 drains. 45 yards of social trail was covered and 25 yards of tread was dug.

Three men in hard hats working in a muddy area.
Crew members installing a drain on a flooded section of trail

Day Three arrived and we hiked back to the meadow we found the previous day to do JHA’s. Nidya and Sarah were on saw crew and rest of the crew was digging drains. Throughout the day 26 drains were constructed, 15 yards of trail was dug, 6 trees were cut and 1 rock wall was built. All of which took place in a critical riparian area.

Two people sitting on a rock looking at a map.
Miles and Nathan identifying mountains during a breaBlake

The last day approached and we packed up our gear and said goodbye to our temporary home in the alpine. We hiked the eight miles back down to the trailhead, but not before covering up more social trails on the way. With half of our mega hitch out of the way we arrived back to the vehicles feeling hungry and accomplished. We sharpened tools, then Zoe’s family made dinner for the whole crew. Stay tuned for the second half of the eight-day hitch next week!

– Blake and Nidya, Rawah Crew Leaders of the Week


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