In the Field: Week 7

Rawah and Red Feather Crews

This past week, the Radwah collectively found themselves working deep within the Rawah wilderness. The goal of this journey was to maintain and improve the Rawah, Camp Lake, Lost Lake, and Sandbar Lakes trails. Our time in the Rawah wilderness went by fast as we worked hard and had a blast spending a week in the backcountry with an eclectic cast.

Five people wearing rain gear sheltering under trees, smiling and huddled together on wet ground.
Deep in the pines behind enemy lines

Radwah decided to drive in their tent stakes up a steep hill, near the lakes. They worked hard and took a few breaks, but soon discovered that swimming was a mistake. Instead of finding sandy beaches, they were attacked by numerous leeches. Through pain and rain, they dug some drains. Through the stormy weather, they cut trees by working together. Although Radwah got stuck in a rut, they pushed through with their trusty crosscut.

Two people wearing hard hats using a large crosscut saw to cut through a thick, fallen tree in a forest.
Taking off the edge by slicing a wedge

At the junction hikers would shiver, as they feared crossing the tumultuous river. The crossing almost looked like a trap, but then the crew decided to bridge the gap. After searching through the Rawah bog, the crew cut the perfect logs. Radwah had many falls and slips, but Geoff came along with helpful tips. After making the bridge complete, they marveled at their tremendous feat.

Meanwhile the others continued up trail, working tirelessly through the blustery gale. All over they searched for trees past Rawah Lake number one, two, three. Sadly there were no trees to see, leave some for us PWV! With no trees to cut, the crew became down in the dumps; however, they cheered up by digging sumps.


A person in a rain jacket works on muddy terrain with a shovel near a forested area.
Thanks to the rain, Shelby and Anna knew where to add a drain

After living in forest, Radwah was ready for rest. They had a lot of fun and did their best. Back to Stub the crew went, to partake in a basketball tournament. Next they sharpened tools to a shine, then off to Glen Echo to dine on fancy food fried and fine. Until next time, we promise no longer will we rhyme!

– Anna and Zach (Redwah Crew Leaders of the Week)

Kawuneeche Crew

Monday, July 24

Today we split the crew up; three of us went to the Green Mountain employee cabins on the west side of the park, and the other half continued working on our main project at the hotshot dorm deck site framing and working on the outer trim. On the west side, at the cabin site, we worked on scraping off the old paint and bark from the siding and repainting with a thick stain to preserve the historical buildings. Our mentor on the west side site goes by the name of Robert. He showed us the proper way to scrape and paint the cabins and is always entertaining us with his vast knowledge of movies and music.

Tuesday, July 25

Our second day this week half of us were finishing up the decking supporting beams and trim, once we finished that we worked on the small stiffeners that go in between the trim and supporting beams and them began to lay the flooring. The other half worked on the cabins, scraping and painting. On the hotshot site we are working alongside three seasonal workers named Calvin, Justin, and Wilson, as well as our two projects crew bosses Bob and Chuck. They all are very helpful because of their vast knowledge of carpentry and endless jokes.

A construction worker in protective gear sawing wood on sawhorses in a dirt-covered area with trucks parked in the background.
Garret is using the skill saw to cut the stiffener boards for the deck.



A man in work clothes stands proudly on wooden framing at a construction site, holding gloves, with a house and trees in the background.
Tate stands on the deck showing progress we have made. Featuring some of our seasonals and projects crew boss. (Bob, Calvin, Justin left to right).

Wednesday, July 26

All of us were at the Green Mountain employee cabins today on the west side of the park. We began by finishing up scraping all of the old flakey bark and paint from the wood and finished by hammering in the loose boards. Together we finished scraping nearly two cabins, as we couldn’t begin painting because it rained on us all day. Today Robert started a game with us to see who could guess the artist of the song that he sang a couple lyrics to. Whoever guessed it in ten seconds got a dollar, and the song turned out to be by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Person in a purple jacket, mask, and gloves standing against a rustic wooden wall with a window, holding paint supplies.
Izzy showing she is properly equipped for the task of scraping



A worker in a cap, mask, and uniform uses a power drill on a weathered wooden door.
Tate scraping old paint and bark off board under porch

Thursday, July 27

Our final day this week we split up again, half of us went to the employee cabins and finished scraping the large cabin we were working on yesterday and the other half stayed at the hotshot dorm deck site to work on the flooring of the deck. The weather was very nice today, on the west side, and only sprinkled on us a few times. The last thirty minutes of work on the Green Mountain site we had finished the cabin we were working on and began scraping on a more “lincoln logged” style cabin that we look forward to finishing next week.

-Tate Kitchell (Kawuneeche Crew Leader of the Week)

Estes Crew

Monday, July 26

On Monday, the Estes Crew returned to their worksite at Bierstadt Lake where they are replacing turnpikes on the trail around the lake. The turnpikes are used to help keep the trail elevated and drain better. They started the day by digging trenches where the new turnpikes will go. They removed the old rotting logs from the old turnpikes; it is important to remove the organic material from the trenches so that the new logs will last longer in the new turnpikes. Once the logs were in place, they collected rocks to crush around the log. By crushing rocks around the log, the log becomes more stable within the trenches so that the turnpikes last longer. In the afternoon, the Estes Crew helped to organize a volunteer event with some high school students. Even though the event was very short, the crew taught the volunteers about how to do trail work and why trail work is so important. The volunteers were very enthusiastic as they helped to close braided trails and lay new tread on a horse trail in Moraine Park.

A man in a cap and grey shirt using a shovel to dig near a log in a forested area, with sunlight filtering through the trees.

Sal digs a turnpike trench

Tuesday, July 25

On Tuesday, the Estes Crew continued to build the turnpikes. They started by digging the rest of the trenches where the new logs would go. There were several rocks in the trenches that were too big to remove so the crew used a micro blaster to blow the rocks up and out of the trenches. Once all of the trenches had been cleared, the crew began to fit the logs into the trenches. It is difficult to get the log to fit just right in the trench; therefore, the crew spent a lot of time lifting the logs in and out of the trenches and readjusting the logs or dig the trench a little deeper in order to ensure a perfect fit. Once the logs were correctly placed, the crew began to crush rocks around them. Crushing rocks into the trench gives the log more stability so that it doesn’t move around and creates a stronger turnpike. The crew gathered lots of rocks from the surrounding forest to use for crush. Overall, the crew had a great day and they can’t wait to see the turnpikes once they’re completed.

A man works on laying logs across a dirt trail in a forest, using a tool to adjust the placement of the logs.
Blake exposes a rock with a pick

Wednesday, July 26

Despite the (very) rainy weather, the Estes Crew still had a fabulous day of work! They continued to fit logs into the trenches and crush rocks in around the logs. Additionally, the crew worked on planting rocks along the outside of the trail. Planting rocks discourages horses and people from leaving the trail. This keeps the impacts of hiking concentrated on only the trail corridor, reducing overall impact to the forest area. The crew began to fit the turnpike logs together. The logs are cut to create a lap joint where they meet; the lap joint increases contact between the two logs and makes the turnpike more stable. The logs also get chiseled down to the same height at the place where they meet to increase stability. The crew also planted more rocks along the trail. Additionally, Jesse and Ben, the crew supervisors, downed a few more trees to be used in the turnpikes. The crew peeled the bark off of these logs using draw knives so that the trees can be used to build the rest of the turnpike.

A person examining a cut log in a dense forest using a magnifying glass.
Claire chisels a log

Thursday, July 27

Today, the Estes Crew continued their work on the turnpike project. They started the day by planting a few more rocks along the trail. Several crew members spent the day building a junk wall along the outside of the turnpike log. A junk wall is a stretch of rock wall that provides stability to the turnpike log and ensures that the logs do not become undercut with erosion. Other crew members made pre-crush to be used next week around the final logs.  Soon after lunch, the crew got to hike back down to the trailhead and spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning out the National Park Trails shop. The crew had a great week and they are looking forward to a wonderful weekend!

Four park rangers working together to lift a large rock onto a constructed trail barrier in a dense, wooded area.

-Claire Gillett (Estes Crew Leader of the Week)

Shadow Mountain Crew

Day #1

The 1st day was a slow start. We spent most of the morning preparing and gathering all of the tools that we would need to repair the fallen bridge in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The morning was also spent herding the llamas so that we could use them to carry the tools and hardware for the bridge. We eventually got to the trailhead and started up the Cascade creek trail for roughly 4 miles. We set up camp just beneath the down bridge and cascade falls. Since we had a late morning, we didn’t have enough time to start work on the bridge. Instead our supervisors went ahead to assess the damage so we had a plan for the next day.

Overgrown forest trail with fallen trees and dense green foliage obstructing the path.

Day #2

The 2nd day was our real first day of bridge repair. We were broken into two groups, one worked on measuring and dismantling the bridge and another worked on cutting the trees that would string along the length of the bridge. We had the majority of the work focused on cutting the trees because the trees had to be completely limbed and debarked. After the dismantling group was finished with clearing the bridge, they started work on the handrails and the handrail brackets. The brackets were constructed out of smaller limbs and still needed to be completely limbed and debarked but didn’t take as long as the stringers. By the end of the day the broken bridge had been cleared, the handrails were finished and work on the stringers had made good progress.

A group of forest workers in helmets and safety gear using a crosscut saw to cut a large log in a wooded area.

Day #3

On the 3rd day everyone worked on cutting out the stringers. People would work in shifts chipping out sections of the trees and tagging out when they got tired. Most of the morning was spent cutting and finishing the stringers for installation. The second half of the day was spent hauling the trees 400 meters through the curvy trail. This was done using 5 sets of log-tongs with 10 people total carrying the tree. It took the rest of the day to move the trees from where they were found to the site of the down bridge. Once we got the two stringers to the site, we had to level and line them up with the other stringers. Once we made it safe for hikers and ourselves, we returned to camp before rain started to pick up.

A group of construction workers in hard hats installing a wooden log bridge over a stream in a forested area.

Day #4

The hard part was over. On day 4, all that was needed to do was to attach the brackets and handrails to the stringers so that the bridge was completely safe. To do this we were split into two different groups, one to work on the brackets and one to create a fire off site to keep the crew warm since it had rained the night before. When we finished the handrails and brackets we got a hiker to take our picture with the newly completed bridge. After completion of the bridge we packed up camp, hiked down the trail and drove back towards the village.

A park ranger standing on a newly constructed log bridge over a forest stream, surrounded by lush greenery.

Group of people working on constructing a wooden bridge in a forested area, with tools visible around.

-Will Sternberg (Shadow Mountain Crew Leader of the Week)

Boulder CRew

Monday 7/24

The week began on a relaxing note for the Boulder Crew. We began on Monday at the Hessey Trailhead, hiking two miles in to the King Lake Trail. The morning was spent brushing our way up the trail while simultaneously playing an entertaining word game Lucas so kindly introduced, which made the tedious lopping infinitely more bearable. After lunch, Andrea and I (Louisa) hiked further to buck out a tree that was across the trail, and then continued lopping until it was time to hike out. An uneventful yet enjoyable start to our week.

Tuesday 7/25

We began our Tuesday at the Nederland Work Center, gathering an array of different tools from the cache for our new project at Diamond Lake. After driving the 45 minutes down the treacherous, pot-hole filled, road to the Fourth of July Trailhead, we all strapped up with picks, shovels, Pulaskis, Austins, and rock bars before beginning our 3-mile trek in. Brendan and Lucas deserve a special shout-out for lugging the massive 40lb rock bar to our work site. This is an especially heavily used trail that has several problem areas in dire need of repair. Our work for the day consisted of constructing a rock turnpike, which was a nice change from the mindless brushing we did on Monday. Brendan and I were tasked with collecting rock crush-fill, while Ryan, Lucas, and Ally went searching for much larger rocks to line the edges of our turnpike. It was very muddy, back-breaking work, but by the end of the day we had made some real progress and our turnpike began to take shape. It had been gray and cloudy all day, and on our hike out it finally began to rain, so we hurried through the three miles back to the safety of our work truck.

Wednesday 7/26

Unfortunately, the rain from Tuesday continued throughout the day. We trudged through the mud to our worksite, continuing the turnpike from the day before and beginning a new project constructing rock steps across another water-logged section of the trail. By the end of the day we were covered in mud and our raingear was waterlogged. However, everyone remained in good spirits, because Chef Brendan was cooking one of our favorite meals that night; orange tofu and rice! Luckily, the rain let up for about an hour, leaving me just enough time to give my yoga lesson to the rest of the crew. Brendan cooked and Lucas struggled to get a fire going, and we all retired to the dry safety of our tent.

Thursday 7/27

Finally, blue skies! But everyone’s uniforms and boots were still soaked through from the previous two days (perks of living outside), so we arrived at the work center early to throw everything in the dryer. Geoff joined us as we drove to the Fourth of July Trailhead for another day at Diamond Lake. Andrea and I put the finishing touches on our turnpike, Brendan and Ryan finished up the rock steps, and everyone else began a new project on a similarly flooded area of the trail. The day went by quickly, and we hiked out an hour early so we would have time to plan for our backcountry hitch next week.

This was a fun week full of new projects on a beautiful trail. Despite the weather, we all had fun playing word games, telling stories, and sharing lots of laughter. Everyone is looking forward to our hitch next week, and making the most of our time left at Kelly Dahl.


A muddy trail through a forest, surrounded by rocks and trees, with makeshift log steps on one side. sunlight filters through the foliage above.
The beginning of our rock step construction across a muddy part of the Diamond Lake Trail.
Four people wearing similar outfits playfully imitate a ninja fight stance in a parking lot, with trees and a flagpole in the background.
Warming up our muscles with an intense game of ninja


A forest trail with fallen trees, rocks, and people camping in the background, in a lush green setting.
Before the construction of our turnpike
A forest trail featuring a patchy rocky path surrounded by green foliage and trees under bright sunlight.
After the construction of our turnpike


-Louisa Markow (Boulder Crew Leader of the Week)

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