In the Field: Week 5

Moraine Crew

Wow, it feels good getting back to work after the midweek change of pace. We hit the ground running this week by dividing into three two person teams to work on a variety of work!

Anna and Barnabas took off for most of the week and worked at the solar shower project in Glarier Basin Campground. They completed the structural supports between the main beams and put up all the walls! They even began painting, and probably would have completed it if we did not get rained out on Thursday (fresh paint and downpours of rain are not a good combination).

A large wooden privacy screen with an open doorway, set on a gravel surface in a sunny outdoor area with trees and an rv visible in the background.
Solar Shower Project coming along great! All the walls are up and painting is under way.

Hayley and Randy spent most of their week at the project shop mastering the new skill we all learned on Tuesday, glazing. Glazing is real interesting, and sometimes frustrating, because it is a very simple skill to learn but it takes a lot of practice to get good at. You must work both patiently to get nice smooth corners and no cracks, but, you also have to work fast enough so the glazing putty does not get too cold to work with.  Everyone in the crew also learned how to glaze but did not get much practice in this week, but if there is one thing we have learned its that there are always more windows to work on!

Group of people engaging in a workshop, with a focus on a table displaying various items, in a room with posters on the wall.
Dolly demonstrating excellent glazing techniques with a putty knife, she makes it look easy but also has 20+ years of practice!

Max and I (Will) got our fix of digging and swinging piks this week. We spent most of our time out at Moraine Park Campground working on constructing a new ADA trail to access a comfort station and modifying the old platform around the comfort station to meet ADA standards on slope. We removed the existing asphalt pathway and started digging and grading the slope for the new trail with the help of our boss Chuck and his mini excavator. After the new tread was dug and graded we began installing the redwood sidewalls that were stained earlier in the season.

Unfortunately, we also go rained out on Thursday and were not able to get as much work done as we would have hoped, but what we did get done is looking really good! It is crazy to see that amount of work that goes into making about 60 feet of new pathway, it really gave us a sense of respect for all the paved pathways we use on a daily basis.

A park ranger stands holding a shovel near a digger clearing debris next to a park restroom surrounded by trees.
Max standing atop of the asphalt he and Will removed by hand that Chuck could not reach with the excavator (not shown in this picture is the smile on chucks face as he uses his favorite toy).

Aside from the fun we had at work this week we all got together on Monday to make gluten AND dairy free pizza as our crew leader of the week Anna taught us all how to make friendship bracelets for her lesson. They are another good example of something that is simple but takes a lot of practice to get good at, she could have made each of us one before we finished our own!

Moraine crew, over and out!

-Will Fazio (Moraine Crew Leader)

This week on Boulder Crew we went on our first hitch. It was a whopping one mile hike
in to one of the most mosquito infested campsites ever. After setting up camp we
started our usual process of moving big rocks off the trail and moving even bigger rocks
onto trail to make check steps and waterbars.3

Working on this trail was a bit more difficult than the previous trails because of the crazy amount of hikers that went by. It seemed like every minute there was a new hiker
passing by causing us to get “hikernoia” which is whenever you hear a noise on trail you
think it is a hiker waiting to pass. After each day of work we would swim in the lake to
relax and wash off all the trail grime. Working on a project like this was very fulfilling
because we could see our progress on a rough trail that became less rough and had
beautiful check steps and stairs instead of ankle rolling, leg breaking rocks.

A serene mountain lake with clouds reflected in its still water, surrounded by dense coniferous forest under a partly cloudy sky.
All in all the week went pretty smooth besides a few minor hiccups. Everyone survived
and packed their backpack correctly and no one brought a shortage of food so in that
sense it was a very successful hitch. Although I am pretty sure everyone left with a few
more mosquito bites and a little less blood than at the start of the week.

Three hikers hold up canned tuna products with excited expressions while sitting in a forest.
Two hikers giving thumbs up under their suspended backpacks in a forest at dusk.

-Jess (Crew Leader of the Week

For our fifth week of field work as the Rawah Crews, we returned to the Young Gulch trail for another hitch. Instead of camping at the trailhead, we backpacked down to a forested spot next to a beautiful meadow. For several people in our crew, this was their first real backpacking experience! Nate (Trail Jesus) met us at the top of the trail and hiked down with us to show us the ropes for our first day back on the trail. He wowed us (once again) with his super-human forearms and infinite trail knowledge. He hiked out after lunch and we were on our own for the rest of the week. Our first day was a very full one. A crew member rolled an ankle but powered through the day, James felled his first tree, and Noah built a rock wall. Our job at Young Gulch was to dig new tread. It was an exciting change of pace for us where we got the opportunity to use a variety of tools and challenge different muscles. Our evening ended with a dinner of Jordan’s trail-famous pad thai.

A wooded area with scattered logs, wildflowers, and greenery on a sunny day; partial view of a person's arm on the right side.IMG_3664

We realized on Tuesday morning just how hard we worked on Monday. We were sore but excited to get back to digging tread. The sun was present throughout the day, but the entire crew was resilient. We probably drank over 35 liters of water between all of us. It was a pretty standard day for most of us who were digging tread. For James and Nathan, they spent the second half of the day building a spectacular rock ramp. At this point, we didn’t have any hammers, so they were extremely crafty with the crushing of rocks. In the evening, we all had the opportunity to relax with the first part of Ruby Ann’s lesson. She taught us about making tea with foraged fruits and leaves, focusing on sustainable foraging. We collected wild raspberries, wild strawberries, mint, pine needles, bee balm, mullein, sage, juniper, and dandelion. We saved our plant mixture for the morning and ate stir fry for dinner which was prepared by Nathan, who we have deemed the cooking wizard of the group. On Tuesday night, Nathan also found some fresh bear scat right next to our camp.A person cooking in a forest, stirring a pot of soup with fresh herbs, with another individual smiling in the background.

Wednesday morning was perfect for everyone as we all prepared our foraged tea for the second part of Ruby Ann’s lesson. It was life-changing. Soon after, we were joined by Tommy and Morgan, our fearless field coordinators. The day started off with digging tread and quickly turned into a day of projects for half of the group. We came across a boulder in the middle of the trail which gave us an opportunity to work on our rock work skills. Ramps were needed on both sides of the boulder. Noah, Madison, Jordan, Stevie, and Ruby Ann took on the boulder project. The rest of us moved further down the trail to dig tread. Nathan came across another large rock in the trail and cleared all of the rotted wood (this was a feat!) to prepare the area for a future crew to do some rock work. Reche found an incredible spot next to the creek where we all enjoyed lunch and much-needed shade. After work, we all participated in Noah’s lesson of “How to Run.” It was very informative and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. Ruby Ann then cooked the culminating dinner of the work week–trail burritos! Shortly after we all (influenced by our food comas) decided to go for an early night and be well-rested for our final day of the hitch.A group of forestry workers in safety gear clearing fallen trees in a dense forest.A worker in a hard hat uses a hammer to build a stone path in a forest, with another worker sitting nearby.

Our final day of the hitch was our first and only day without the sun. The sky was encompassed in clouds and the endless thunder started around lunchtime. We completed one of our boulder ramps, and the other one was nearing completion when the time came to hike out. The five of us who weren’t working on the ramp projects spent the morning digging tread in a really gnarly area with lots of raspberry bushes and large rocks. We accepted the challenge and dug some beautiful tread.

We had an incredible time back at Young Gulch. The hike out was incredible as we all got the opportunity to enjoy a trail we put into place. We made it back to the cars just as the torrential downpour began. Life is awesome like that!

-Zoe & Daniel (Crew leaders of the week)

Week 7 was another rockin’ week for the Estes Crew (No pun intended)! We spent most of the week working on a switchback section of our Aspen Brook trail. The days were early, and the weather unpredictable, but was more than enjoyable with great company!

Three hikers taking a selfie, one in the foreground smiling with a rain hat; two others in the background, one covering face, sitting by a tree on a rocky trail.
Some of us huddled together to weather the storm on Thursday (Again, no pun intended).

Most of the crew was able to learn how to use a drill to remove rock from the trail. This allows for a more even tread level, as well as a safer hike for humans and horses! The crew also became proficient at moving rocks this week. We each were able to learn how to carefully move large rocks down the hill, on the trail, and towards the switchback. In order to move these massively heavy objects, we used a rock cart. This helps to distribute the weight evenly and roll the rock easily down the trail, rather than dragging it.

RMC Curtis with Rock
Our fearless crew leader steadying a rock onto the rock cart.

All of our rock gathering abilities are helpful for the rock wall, steps, crush, and riprap that are being constructed for this trail. These will help maintain the structure and prevent erosion of the trail. We’re so excited for the structures being built on this trail, and we are more than thankful to be able to be a part of it!

Five friends in a car, smiling at the camera; one person is driving, while the others pose from the passenger seats.
See you all next week!

-Sydney (Crew Leader of the Week)

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