In the Field: Week 2

This week proved to be a productive week for the Boulder Crew both on and off the trail.  After enjoying a four-day weekend, the crew got right into trail work on Tuesday morning at the heavily-used Ceran St. Vrain Trail.   The entirety of the Ceran St. Vrain Trail follows the river, providing the crew with a beautiful work environment.  Tuesday involved adding numerous new drainage structures to the first few miles of trail.  Beyond honing our skills in the art of digging effective and sustainable drains, we also were able to practice some new skills, such as the removal and rehabilitation of illegal fire pits.  On Wednesday, we returned to Ceran St. Vrain to once again go over the drainage structures dug on Tuesday to critique and improve upon them.  Beyond the standard focus on drainage, Wednesday’s work on the trail also included rehabilitation of illegal fire rings and brushing and limbing vegetation along the trail.

Two people sitting around trees on a forest

On Thursday, the crew began their day with a trip down the canyon to the Boulder Ranger District Office to participate in the monthly district meeting.  The meeting afforded the crew the opportunity to learn more about the organizational structure of the US Forest Service and the current concerns and goals of the district.  After spending the morning in the meeting, the crew drove  back and began work for the afternoon on the Buchanan Pass Trail, where we had worked on extensively last week.  Given the abbreviated day in the field, the crew focused only on digging drainage structures on the next mile and a half of trail for the afternoon.

Woman cleaning a forest trail on a wooded area

The week closed out on a high note as we undertook work on the Forsythe Canyon Trail. Much like the Ceran St. Vrain Trail, this trail follows water and provides a very peaceful atmosphere.  The trail required the installation of many new dips and drains, as well as some extensive brushing and rehabilitation of large illegal fire rings.  After finishing up work on the trail a little early, the crew returned to the work center to do a little cleaning of the work trucks and public areas at the work center.

Off the trail, the crew has been enjoying our space at Kelly Dahl Campground more and more. Our spacious alcove now feels like home as we add new touches to our space for our enjoyment like hammocks, solar showers, and stumps around the fire.  We’ve established a meal and dishes routine as well for our nightly group dinners.  On Wednesday, we cooked brats over the fire—a tasty meal with minimal dishes! All in all, the Boulder crew enjoyed another week of work and recreation in the beautiful natural areas of the Boulder region!

Group of friends camping at the forest

Rainbow visible over a lake

– Tom Enright, Boulder Crew Leader


It’s the second week of trail work for the Estes Crew, and we’ve begun covering a lot of miles in the park. On Monday and Tuesday, we worked on the Deer Mountain Trail, clearing brush and digging drains on 3 miles of trail. On Wednesday, we worked along the extremely popular Fern Lake trail, clearing 2 miles. This allowed us to talk to many hikers, including Conservancy members, about the trail work we were doing in the park. Working on popular trails can make the work crowded, but it’s so rewarding when people are interested in what we’re doing and thank us for our work. Finally, we ended the week with an amazing trail run up the North Longs Peak trail. The trail had a lot of uphill and it was a hot day, but we all kept good attitudes as we adjusted to altitude and hiking with heavy packs and tools. I am a firm believer that every hike is worth it when the destination offers a view. The North Longs trail did not disappoint in this manner and our lunch spot on the tundra offered a panorama view of Longs Peak, the Mummy Range, and many other peaks in the park.

We’re becoming more and more comfortable going on trail maintenance runs, but there is still so much to learn. We’ve been learning new skills daily. A trail maintenance run consists of digging drains to prevent water from eroding the trail, cutting back vegetation to open up the trail corridor, and using a crosscut saw to remove large fallen trees.

As always, a hard week at work calls for a fun and adventurous weekend. Crew members got out on the trails this weekend and hiked to Blue Lake in the Never Summer Wilderness and Sky Pond in RMNP. It’s impossible to be bored out here and we can’t get enough of these mountains.

Panoramic view of an overlooking from the mountainside
Our lunch spot from the North Longs trail.

Five people posing beside a lake on the mountainside
Our group that hiked to Sky Pond

Group of hikers sliding down a snowy slope
Glissading down from Sky Pond

Overlooking view from a mountainside
Lunch from the summit of Deer Mountain

Two rangers posing for a photo on a vast green meadow
Jesse and Jessa with brushing tools on the Deer Mountain Trail

– Miranda Thompson,  Estes Crew Leader


This week the Kawuneechee Crew started off on a high note: we finished the roof at the Timbercreek Campground by the end of the day on Monday. This allowed for us to move onto other projects within the comfort station. We removed all of the windows, framed the inside walls, and put in a new support where the inside concrete wall needed to be removed. These many small jobs took us through the rest of the week until Thursday when we started painting the outside. We were able to complete two coats on one side of the building. It looks like we will be painting the rest of it throughout next week.

Workers fixing a bricked roof
National Park Service staff and crew members complete the roof on Monday.
Almost completed house with brick roof
The completed roof at the Timbercreek Campground comfort station!
House situated on a green meadow
Another view of the completed roof
Workers painting a comfort station situated on a grassy field
Adam works to paint the comfort station at Timbercreek Campground

Along with the work we did at the comfort station, we also worked on other projects around the park. On Monday, a couple of us went back to Lake Irene to work on the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) Mess hall by continuing to chink logs. On Thursday, we hiked to the little buckaroo barn near the Bowen Gulch Trail and put in new windows. This building is an old historic site from the ranches that used to exist in this area.

Worker replacing a window of a house
Adam replaces a window at the Little Buckaroo Barn
Woman replacing a window of a barn
Rachel helps replace a window at the Little Buckaroo Barn
A barn on vast green field of grass
A view of the Little Buckaroo Barn

After another successful week, we look forward to completing more projects. This next week looks like a lot of painting at the comfort station and possibly more progress on the Lake Irene CCC Mess Hall.

Hikers resting at  the top of the mountain
Crew member and leaders enjoy their weekend with a hike in the Never Summers

– Dominic Rickicki, Kawuneeche Crew Leader


This week, the Shadow Mountain Crew started out with crosscut saw training led by our district’s Rec Planner, Miles Miller. We spent one day in the classroom learning about saw technique and history, followed by a day in the field on the Knight Ridge Trail. We had hoped to spend most of the day crosscutting, but ran into more trees outside the Indian Peaks Wilderness boundary than we expected, which meant that we spent much of the morning assisting with the removal of those trees with chainsaws.

The Knight Ridge Trail was the focus of a large clearing project in the summer of 2015 that was performed in part by last year’s Shadow Mountain Crew. We knew that this year there would be fewer trees down, but since the trail is in an area exposed to high winds, there were still plenty of trees to clear. As part of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, the Knight Ridge is an important section to keep open for the many through hikers that come through the area each summer.

The rest of our week was spent on maintenance runs on the Cascade Creek Trail (a popular trail out of the Monarch Lake Trailhead) and the Strawberry Lake Trail. We also were able to start taking out our pack llama, Jed, out for walks so he will be strong enough to carry equipment for us soon!

After a 5-day week of work, we are enjoying a long weekend of hiking, spending time with visiting family, and road-tripping to Great Sand Dunes National Park. Next week, we look forward to more maintenance runs and preparing for our first backcountry hitch!

Workers using a crosscut saw to cut a fallen treeToby looks on while John and Ash get some crosscut saw practice on the Knight Ridge Trail.

Man overlooking from a mountainside with a lake in the backgroundAbigail looks out over Lake Granby from the Knight Ridge.

Workers resting beside a lakeShadow Crew members take a relaxing lunch break on Strawberry Lake, looking towards the Indian Peaks.

Woman posing for a picture with a llama and fallen tree in the backgroundJohn poses with Llama Jed on the Cascade Creek Trail.

Group of hikers posing for a picture before climbing the mountainSCA crew members Jake and Ariana, Forest Service employee Lauren, and Shadow Crew members John, Ash, Amy, and Toby pose with the Indian Peaks on the Knight Ridge Trail.

– Amy Sullivan, Shadow Mountain Crew Leader


This week, Rawah and Red Feather Crew morale was good and a lot was accomplished. It was extremely hot, but 3-6L of fluids were consumed by every crew member daily: an incredible feat! We build 0.2 miles of trail from scratch and fixed, widened, or improved another 0.2 miles of trail in Young Gulch. This was a cool experience for all to see trail from start of flagging to finished product. We also were reminded how to respect nature. We got rattled at and warned by six Western Diamonback Rattlesnakes either on the trail or just to the side near where we were working!

Screenshot of a Strave Elevation

Using the GPS App ‘Strava’, I mapped what our work looks like now and annotated it. We are 0.4 miles in, with 2.25 miles to go to the halfway point, when one half of the trail will reopen, and work will commence from the other side of the trail until the trails join. USFS employee, Kevin Cannon, has mapped and flagged the proposed trail route using GPS. You can clearly see the drastic route change from the old Young Gulch Trail. Circled in blue are turns that will be constructed next weekend by the ‘turn crew’. In black is a bridge and horse crossing coming in this Fall. In pink is the trail that we built from scratch (removing vegetation, rocks, leveling trail, building 3 retaining walls of rock, 6 check steps, widening previously initiated trail sections, and correctly backsloping).

All-in-all, it was a good week and lots of progress was made.

A man building a path using a rake on a green meadow
Crew members Sam and Kyrie work on outsloping the tread surface on first switchback.

Close up picture of a pink flowerRosa Carolina identified on the side of the trail. Spring is a great time in the mountains.

– Grant Crist, Red Feather Lakes Crew Leader


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