In the Field: Week Three (Shadow Mountain Crews)

Shadow Mountain Crews

This week was our first backcountry hitch of the season. On the first day, we hiked up the cascade creek trail where we scavenged for a good base camp site. We found a nice, relatively flat spot amongst the massive fir trees that are indicative of this area. This was the crews’ first time working in the backcountry. We all quickly adjusted to carrying tools and practiced proper Leave No Trace practices including how to dig a cathole, properly dispersing washed dishes, and how to do a good bearhang.

On the second day, we had a warm breakfast of oatmeal with peanut butter as we prepared to continue training with the crosscut saws. Half of the crew went up the gourd lake trail while the other headed towards fox park. Each person on the crew took turns assessing a fallen tree and then came up with a plan to proceed with the cut. This process, often referred to by the acronym OHLEC (Objective, Hazards, Leans, Escape, Cut), is a very helpful tool in becoming a good sawyer. Bucking is harder than it looks!

On the third day, we came across the largest fallen tree we’d ever seen!! This tree was a great test that forced us to use everything we learned in the past couple of days. The tree itself was so large it required all seven of us to work as a team to get the job done. We made three cuts, starting with the left side. The scale of the tree was so large we had to switch out while sawing. It was exhausting but rewarding.

The second half of the work week took us back to the front country. We worked at multiple sites within the shadow area to help install forest service signs. This process involved lots of measuring, digging, and mixing concrete. These signs were installed to educate the public on common visitor mistakes such as Leave No Trace and bear awareness. If you’re driving down hwy 125 or hwy 40, keep your eyes peeled!

-Sarah (Shadow Mountain Crew Leader)

The Shadow Mountain Crew had a week of trail maintenance at a variety of locations for the first time this past week. It feels like we have been all around the Arapaho National Forest. The first day, we drove all the way to Morgan Gulch Trail. It was a dry sagebrush trail that led into some lodgepole forest. Luckily, it was cloudy, so the temperature was not that bad at all. At one point is got mega stormy just after we crested a ridge line and there was lighting all around. It was a beautiful storm that only lasted a short while like most afternoon storms that occur here. A tree even came down near where we were working and a couple people further down the trail just thought it was us working. Unfortunately, it was the only day the llamas, Oreo and Two socks, came with us because one of them started to chaff under the packs.

The next day we went to the Hi-Lonesome Trail near monarch lake, it was a steep interesting trail to work on and the crew managed to clear and create a whooping 43 drains and clear 24 trees off the trail. Overall, a very productive day! Plus, Geoff visited us and we all had a great time. At the end of the day, he was officially voted part of the homie squad.

For our third day, we got to drive on a hardcore road to our work destination, the Bowen Gulch Interpretive Trail. It was super rocky and took some time to get over, but we made it. We started crosscutting, but then moved to chainsaws because there were so many trees down.

On the last day we worked with the Headwaters Trail Alliance on some turnpikes. The people we worked with were go getters, and we got a ton done because of them. Overall, it was a fun experience for the whole crew.

-Liam (Shadow Mountain Crew Leader)