In the Field – Week 4

It’s Sunday, and you know what that means… Its time for a field update from all of the crews! Here’s an eyes on the ground experience of each crews’ experience this last week.

The Boulder Crew just wrapped up their fourth work week and the trails of the Boulder Ranger District are starting to shape up.  The crew started the week with the completion of a 100 yard reroute on the flood damaged Dry St. Vrain Trail.  They then set their sights on the Buchanan Pass trail where heavy Spring runoff and poorly draining tread combined to create a muddy mess for the Boulder crew. Fortunately the mud was no match for this fearless crew.  After RMC-CC was finished, the Buchanan pass trail was draining better than something that drains really well.  After two days at Buchanan pass, the Boulder crew busted out two miles of drainage and brushing on the Sourdough trail to cap off the week.  As the first half of the season comes to a close, the Boulder crew seems to just be getting warmed up.  One of the crew’s strongest drain engineers, Danny Misch, recently stated that the Boulder crew is “a real powerhouse… a force to be reckoned with” and that “…trail erosion doesn’t stand a chance”.  With this much momentum going into the second half of the season, everyone is on the edge of their seat waiting to see what trail they will repair next! People resting on a rock along a forest trail

– Jake Larson, Crew Leader – Boulder Crew

Estes Crews had another solid week on the trails. On Monday we started from the Longs Peak trail head and cleared trail to Lily’s Lake. We cleared about six miles of trail and then helped lay down new gravel on the trail around Lily’s Lakes. On Tuesday we started up the Lawn Lake trail and cleared about the first five miles before hiking out. Wednesday we completed the entire Lawn Lake and Black Canyon loop all the way to Lumpy Ridge for a total of about fourteen miles. There were also three large snow covered trees on the trail by Lawn Lake that we cut out of the way. Thursday we started up high at the Ute Crossing Trailhead and cleared about six miles of trail to Beaver Meadows. At Beaver Meadows we assisted with helping move stock to put fresh dirt on the trails around Beaver Meadows.

– Tom Derr, Crew Leader – Estes Crew

This week, the Shadow Mountain Crew got Chainsaw certified! At one point those fierce tools may have been intimidating but after a week at the Shadow Village chainsaw class, we can all operate them like stellar grade A Sawyers. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent in the classroom learning about the odds and ends of Chainsaw wielding, cleaning, dismantling and anything else you could possibly imagine. On Thursday and Friday we got to test our newly acquired knowledge in the field on the hazard trees around Beaver Creek. Each student had to fell 3 grade A trees which were then scrutinized by the respective supervisor who either passed them or decided a little bit more practice was needed. We were also tested and strictly graded in the bucking and limbing areas of expertise. Everyone passed with flying colors!

Saturday the crew finally headed out into the field on the Strawberry Bench and Doe Creek Trails. An outstanding 18 miles of trail and 71 trees were cleared and members tested out their newly found saw skills. All in all, it was an extremely productive and satisfying week.

Tommy, Aidan, and Lewis working to establish a new tread on a swampy trail on the Strawberry Bench.
Tommy, Aidan, and Lewis working to establish a new tread on a swampy trail on the Strawberry Bench.
The new established tread on the Strawberry Bench
The new established tread on the Strawberry Bench
Aidan using his chainsaw training on the trail.
Aidan using his chainsaw training on the trail.

– Connor Enright, Crew Leader – Shadow Mountain Crew

This was our (Red Feather) first week working independently from the forest service. On Monday we went up the dead man road outside of Red Feather Lakes. We set out on the North Lone Pine Trail with one group designated to bucking out fallen trees and one group working on drainage issues. We  found there was much more than a days work and needed a way to cover more ground. With this in mind I pitched the idea of riding North Lone Pine and Killpecker on a mountain bike and get eyes on the entire trail. I was surprised when our Forest Service supervisor was all for the idea.
Tuesday morning I set on my mountain bike to see the top part of Lone Needle Pine and return on the Killpecker Trail. After enjoying the clear trail we had worked on yesterday I eventually found a trail filled with snags, fallen trees and snow that eventually became deep and consistent. I continued on to stick with the plan and found, what seemed endless potholing. After dropping below the snow line, I returned to the Killpecker Trail with water draining down it. I eventually met back up with the rest of the crew and shared the story of my adventurous day.
The following day I was asked to ride the Hewlett Gulch Trail and report what I had seen, The trail was a real treat with technical creek crossings and travel through an area that burned 3 years ago. It was great to get out on the bike and see all the ecological succession that has taken place since the fire all before lunch. After changing and returning to the rest of the crew who had kept busy lopping we began brushing in braided trail and cleaning and creating new drains.
The week then ended with work on the popular Grey Rock Trail, just outside of Poudre Park. On this trail we promoted drainage by cleaning water bars and redefining rolling grade dips. The trail also required a fair amount of brushing and one repair to a rock retaining wall.
The week was full of adventure and hard work and I feel grateful that I was given the opportunity to work off my bike for a couple days.

A mountain bike standing on a snow pile in a forest A mountain bike stopped in the middle of the forest Workers sitting on top of a large rock in the middle of the forest Workers wearing orange hats clearing a grass field in the woods

– Clint Mitchell. Assistant Crew Leader – Red Feather Crew

Rawah Wilderness Crews’ updates will come this week in the crew spotlight.

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