In the Field: Week 1

The Rawah and Red Feather crews spent this week being trained by their Forest Service supervisors and getting a feel for the trails they will be working this season. Monday started with reviewing basic trail maintenance techniques and tool safety. For the second half of the day the crews headed to the Lone Pine Trail to scout work projects for later in the week. Tuesday the crews returned to Lone Pine to get in some practice with their supervisor and one of the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers. We practiced building waterbars, clearing the trail corridor cleaning out dips and drains and cutting out small trees from the trail. Wednesday the crews went through their crosscut saw training and received their certifications as sawyers at the end of the day. With training and certifications completed, Thursday, the crews headed to the Big South Trail to work on their recently learned skills. The crews maintained two miles of trail, drained a flooded fifty-foot section of trail, and maintained twenty-eight water bars. After a week of training the crews are excited to get into the field and start working on some trails. Next week both the Rawah and Red Feather crews will be working at the Young Gulch trail doing project work with some other volunteers. Stay tuned for updates!

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Forest Service supervisor Chris Klingbeil teaches crosscut training
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Red Feather crew member Arin works on a downed tree in the trial
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Rawah Crew member Sam handsaws a downed tree with the Poudre Wilderness volunteer
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Rawah and Red Feather crew members go over approaching a cut
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Rawah crew members Kyrie and Eeland get some practice time with the saw
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Rawah crew member Eeland feeling pretty good about his first cut
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Crew members work on draining flooded sections of trail

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Rawah and Red Feather Crews wearing their carhartts for Carhartt Tuesday
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Rawah crew leader Des works on the flooded section of trail
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Eeland catches fish for a group dinner of fish tacos
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On off time Rawah crew member Eeland teaches Sam fly fishing techniques
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During lunch Rawah members Des and Gus plan for the up coming weekend

-Des Otis, Rawah Crew Leader

After participating in a volunteer orientation at the Boulder Ranger District Office on Saturday of last week, the Boulder Crew jumped right into trail work with the Forest Service on Monday morning.

The crew focused its work on the Buchanan Pass Trail along the Middle Saint Vrain Creek this week.  Trail work commenced Monday morning with a few short demonstrations regarding safe use of tools and the fundamentals of maintaining drainage structures on trail.  With that basic orientation, the crew members tried their hands at digging drainage structures on trail in pairs at first and later on their own.  In the afternoon, we then hiked back to critique and improve upon the drains they had already dug that morning.  All in all, the work on Monday afforded the opportunity to enjoy some time on trail together while learning how to recognize drainage issues on trail and then mitigate those problems with quality trail maintenance techniques.

The crew encountered an unexpected delay and team building activity on Tuesday morning when a truck got a flat tire on the way to work.  After working together to change the tire, we returned to Buchanan Pass Trail to continue the drainage work remaining on trail and to implement newly learned maintenance techniques such as brushing.  By early Wednesday morning, the crew had completed basic maintenance on the first section of the trail and then turned its attention to a project adding more retainers and dirt to an overly steep ramp after a boardwalk.  Crew members dug borrow pits to collect dirt, collected smaller rocks to be added to stabilize the tread on the ramp, found and transported large (and heavy) rocks to be used as stepping stones at the end of the ramp, and skinned the logs to be added as extra retainers and railings along the boardwalk.  It was quite the project!

Thursday’s work focused on finishing up the project we had done all the prep work for on Wednesday and working up trail to continue maintenance and to remove roots on trail that presented tripping hazards.  By the end of the day, the ramp project was complete and the crew could appreciate the fruits of their labor!

As a whole, this first week of trail work exposed the crew to a variety of techniques they will be using for the remainder of the summer.  The skills learned this week will continue to be honed and expanded upon as the crew tackles a new trails and projects in the coming weeks.  Off the trail, the crew has made our campsite at Kelly Dahl Campground home.  We have a large tarp for rain cover, a picnic table, a fire pit, a trailer equipped with a stove and plenty of room for storage, and many other amenities at our disposal; we’re certainly living large for living in tents for the summer (the view of the sunsets over the mountains certainly makes the site a little sweeter too)!  With one week of living and working together under our belts, we’re all looking forward to the weeks to come enjoying one another’s company and the beauty of the mountains!

The Ramp (Before)



Hailey and Milda stand proudly over the ramp after completing the rehab.
Dalton working to remove roots for the trail.
Gustavo skinning a log for the ramp
Dalton tamping down new tread on the ramp.
The Boulder Crew was challenged by a flat tire on the way to work this week.

-Tom Enright, Boulder Crew Leader

The first week of trail work has come and gone for the Estes Crew. The verdict is that our legs are a little sore, but we’re no less stoked to enjoy the mountains on our days off. It doesn’t take long to realize the beauty of the mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park and the adventures that are possible among them.

This week we received Search and Rescue training from NPS employees and additional trainings from other departments such as Natural Resources and Cultural Resources. These trainings allow us to be more aware of what we can do to keep Rocky a safe and functioning park. We ended the week with maintenance runs to Deer Mountain and Sandbeach Lake, for a total of 10 miles maintained. So far we’ve been clearing drains to help prevent erosion by water on the trails. Trail work, along with the semi-truck full of hay bales we unloaded for the mule and horse pack teams, left our muscles sore but that didn’t stop our crew from heading out to the trails this weekend.

As a crew leader, it feels great to see my crew getting along so well even though we’ve only known each other two weeks. It makes me so happy to see them excited about trail work and excited about playing a role in the conservation of our public lands. As a crew we are beyond excited to keep working hard on the trails and getting out to hike, run, and climb on the weekends here in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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-Miranda Thompson, Estes Crew Leader

One week down in the Kawuneechee Valley and our crew wasted no time! Day one involved a few brief introductions before we all headed up to Lake Irene to shovel the snow out from around a CCC Mess hall located right off of the parking lot. This mess hall helped feed CCC workers during the construction of trail ridge road, but has seen little use since that time. Last summers crew was able to redo the roof with new cedar shingles, which still look great after a winter at 10,000 ft. This summer our crew will be continuing their work by chinking (a caulk like substance used to seal logs on a log cabin) between the logs of the mess hall, to help prevent rodents.

On Tuesday we went to an all crew training on the east side of Rocky, where we learned about safety, wildlife, invasive species, and other important topics for our summer in the park.

Wednesday we began restoration work on a comfort station at Timber Creek campground. We began by tearing off all the old shingles on the roof and removing old bathroom fixtures from the work site. After this our supervisors taught us the ins and outs of cedar shingle placement and we began laying down the new roof. After a few mistakes and some “aha” moments we found our groove and started laying down shingles with speed.

Thursday, half of the crew began work on the roof again while the other half went back up to Lake Irene to chink. We were able to chink a good portion of the parking lot side of the building, but the work is slow and precise so many more days will be spent here. The other half of the crew made good progress on the roof and it looks like we are about halfway done! Hopefully next week sees the completion of this project as we move on to more restoration jobs throughout the park!

Dominic, Kawuneeche Crew Leader, cuts shingles to size.
Rachel, Kawuneeche Crew Member, sorts through shingles to find the right size.
Adam, Kawuneeche crew member,nails down some shingles at Timber Creek campground.
Dax, Kawuneeche crew member, applies a fresh layer of chink to the CCC mess hall.
Dax uses the magnet to pull nails off the roof after removing the shingles.
Tatyana, Kawuneeche crew member, pulls nails out of the roof to prepare for new shingles.

-Dominic Rickicki, Kawuneeche Crew Leader

The Shadow Mountain Crew started out the week by moving into our housing for the summer in the Shadow Mountain Village and Work Center, near Grand Lake.

Having lived in Moraine Park Campground for training week, this move was much anticipated. After some cleaning and paperwork with the housing manager, we were able to settle in to our two 1940s era houses, which have already started to feel like home!

Our first week with the Sulphur Ranger District of the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest has been a good exercise in flexibility. Our previously scheduled crosscut saw training was postponed, but this meant that we were able to dig right in and get some maintenance runs in on the Doe Creek Trail, the Roaring Fork Trail, and the Cascade Creek Trail. Much of our work this week was done with a Student Conservation Association (SCA) crew that will be patrolling in the wilderness on our district this summer.

Amy and Forest Service employee Lauren buck out a downed tree on the Cascade Creek Trail in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.


John and SCA crew member Jake get some crosscut saw practice in on the Roaring Fork Trail in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

In addition to our first maintenance runs, we’ve also spent time loading our crew truck with tools, learning about tool sharpening and other tool maintenance, and attending a district-wide safety meeting. As part of the Non-Motorized Trail Crew (NMTC), we work with Forest Service employees Kendra and Lauren, who, along with the members of our crew with trail work experience, have been helping to get everyone up to speed on the techniques and tools of trail construction and maintenance.

Ashley models our crew truck before we load it up with shovels, picks, Pulaskis, hoes, hammers, and plenty of other trail tools that we’ll be using this season!


When we’re not working, we’ve been able to spend time with the nearby Kawuneeche crew, even winning a round of trivia at a local restaurant! We love our fire pit in the backyard and convenient access to canoes for paddling on Shadow Mountain Lake. We’ve made many wildlife sightings in the Shadow Mountain Village, including pelicans, osprey, moose, and even a coyote.

Next week, we’ll be back at it with more maintenance runs and crosscut saw training!

The Shadow Crew (Ashley, John, Toby, Izzy, Amy, and Abigail) celebrates the National Park Service Centennial on our way over Trail Ridge Road to get to our housing and work area.
When not performing excellent trail work, Izzy and Abigail enjoy sleeping in their hammocks.

-Amy Sullivan, Shadow Mountain Crew Leader






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