2008 Trail Crew Reports & Photos
Every year, hundreds of dedicated volunteers take time out of their busy schedules to take a volunteer vacation with The Colorado Trail Foundation. Trail Crew volunteers enjoy weekend and/or weeklong crews with lots of fun, rewarding work, fresh air, and new friends!
Weekend Crew 01 - Bear Creek
Trail Crew WE1, National Trails Day, June 7, 2008
Crew Members Included:
Partnership. This first CT Crew effort for 2008 was hosted by COMBA, the Colorado Mountain Bike Association. They worked diligently and had every detail covered. (No small feat, as this was a huge event!) The CTF had other partners too, including the US Forest Service, Front Range Back Country Horsemen, IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association), Parker Elizabeth (Horse) Riding Club, Team Evergreen Trailblazers and The Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance. Wow. There were also numerous merchants who sponsored and contributed.
The whole production was in celebration of National Trails Day, Saturday, June 7th, and we worked to improve Segment 1. Having hikers, cyclists and horse riders all help was great. It was really cool having participants from all user groups team up and work together.
Horseback folks packed the tools and extra water the day before and day after. Their efforts were crucial to our success and, with all the preparations and horse and equipment transportation, their contribution was enormous.
Saturday was a buzz with over 100 trail workers. There were 18 crew leaders! COMBA’s plan worked really well and soon they had all participants organized into efficient teams. The cyclists rode off first, 6 miles to where they repaired damage caused by the many fallen trees of a 2007 major blow down. Hikers left next, climbing up to their work areas to construct water diversions to limit tread erosion. Everyone worked hard. Participants learned, got a workout, experienced a sense of accomplishment from doing something worthwhile, made new friends and had fun. Seemed like everyone had a big smile on their face. Altogether, trail workers accomplished the entire maintenance project and improved The Colorado Trail. It was a tremendous effort.
Support volunteers had it together. They organized the food and drinks and took care of many other essentials. The morning breakfast got us going and the afternoon barbeque was fantastic.
A gigantic THANK YOU goes out to everyone who helped – all 134 of you! An effort like this is just tremendous. With 500 miles of trail to care-take, The Colorado Trail Foundation needs every one of you energetic, giving volunteers as well as all you partners and contributors. We really appreciate each and every one of you.
Trail Crew WE3, July 26–27, Blackhawk Pass
Blackhawk Crew Members Included:
Each year, the Colorado Trail Foundation’s Adopt-A-Trail (AAT) Program and Volunteers
accomplish annual maintenance on The Colorado Trail. There are 58 maintenance
sections and volunteer Adopters. Along with their volunteer helpers, Adopters
remove fallen trees and do Trail maintenance each spring to protect the Trail
and make it passable and enjoyable for users. Adopters and their helpers
enable the CTF to continue preserving The Colorado Trail.
Trail Crew 0108, June 14-21, 2008,
Pulaskis, culverts, berm, tent poles, cigars, lasagna pans, cigars, road-side toilet paper, and Martha Stewart: Colorado Trail Volunteer Crew 0108 had an ideal blend of dedicated effort and good-natured fun. The crew, spurred by the bountiful, and delicious, products of cook tent extraordinaire Carol Clapp and led by Tom Brooksher, tackled both trail work and dinner dishes with intensity, accomplishing an impressive amount for an eleven person crew. From salty veterans to first-timers, the crew’s members united at Kenosha Pass to create an assemblage of hard workers.
Mornings, the crew rose early to have breakfast eaten and lunches packed before hitting the trail at 8:00. Throughout the day, the crew widened trail, pulled up Potentilla bushes, and installed culverts to redirect encroaching water. Evenings, after being considerably stuffed with food, the crew chatted fireside; ranging from an exhausted silence to rousing games of “Two Truths and a Lie.”
As a sixteen-year-old and a first time volunteer, I honestly had no idea what to expect from the trip. I told my friends that I would be “trail building,” but I didn't expect the overall experience that comes with working on a Colorado Trail Crew, in particular this group of eleven. The demanding trail work was highly gratifying, and the Colorado Trail was a place of life lessons: A man doesn’t care how many holes he has in his pants as long as he can get his legs through two of them (Thank you, Bill). Sometimes it’s necessary to put a little fear into your child. Sometimes you have to sleep in a tent without poles to make a point (It’s stoic, not foolish). And, a mountainous setting, exhausting labor, lack of bathing, painfully full stomachs and Tequila can really bring people together.
Along the way the crew managed to enhance .5 miles of trail, and install 9 rolling dips, 2 french drains, 1 grade dip and 3 culverts. We were also visited many times by thru hikers and enjoyed the company of 7 of them for lunch or dinner.
Crew Members Included:
Tom Brooksher, leader
Crew 0208, June 21–28, Kenosha Pass – Segment 5 Maintenance
Cindy Johnson led this Women only crew again this year. The task was to improve existing trail for 2 ½ miles going east from the top of Kenosha Pass. We had a small but very effective crew of 6 due to several last minute cancellations. Hopefully you all that missed this year, will be able to join us for next years' crew.
The crew consisted of:
Ciny Johnson, Sophie Kanter from Maryland, Martha Kondo-Pavish from Denver, Rebecca Mezhoff from Western Colorado, Tia Turner from New Mexico, Carol Clapp from Texas.
The week went great, the weather was outstanding, the setting and camping on top of Kenosha Pass, working towards the east was beautiful. The trail crew was phenomenal. Half the crew had never done this type of work before but they learned quickly and worked hard. The food was gourmet and plentiful. We installed over 50 waterbars, removed tons of rock, took out 4 trees that blocked the trail using the handy-dandy pocket chainsaw and any other improvements needed in the 2 ½ mile stretch we worked. We also had some visitors, thru hikers that joined us for several meals and cut most of our campfire wood for us, thanks guys. One group brought along a llama (Merlin) that was fun. We also learned lots of tips on ultra-light backpacking from Rebecca who has thru hiked the CT to help the rest of us wannabe’s.
Thanks ladies for making my job so easy. Great job team. We will have another women’s crew next year so look for it. I will also send a preview e-mail to all the ladies I have in my list to let you know and personally invite you. See you next year.
Crew 0308, June 28 – July 5, Mt. Shavano Area
Crew Members Included:
It’s a special event when everything comes together beautifully. Crew 0308 benefited from fabulous pre-work, planning, people, weather, food, gear, timing, cooperation, campfires, starlit nights, entertainment, and even a leprechaun.
We got off to a good start by setting up our camp on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. All crew members had settled in by Sunday afternoon. We had a great campsite situated in a large meadow overlooking Mounts Ouray and Chipeta and were surrounded by Aspen groves. A large crew required more than normal facilities so two canopies and two tents for cooking, eating and social gathering, plus two extra showers were set up.
Trail work got off to an early start on Sunday afternoon when Bill Carpenter, Jerry Bush, Randy Dyson and John Lipe hiked north of camp to clear a large downfall that blocked the CT to all but foot traffic on the south approach to Squaw Creek.
On Monday, the entire crew started renovation work on the heavily used section of the CT between the campsite and Angel of Shavano CG. Richard Conger, Lee Ashley and Randy Dyson removed and beautifully reconstructed the water crossing on Weldon Creek. (Randy became convinced that the beautiful area is home to a leprechaun, who definitely liked the improvements).
Meanwhile, Bill Carpenter led a crew of eight crew members to move a 120’ section of trail upslope to be able to attain adequate tread width and corridor clearance. They moved a huge amount of dirt and rock and built a very nice section of trail. The rest of the crew built a series of rolling dips and other water diversion structures to correct the erosion problems prevalent throughout this section of the CT.
Bob and Mark Seklemian proved to be a dynamite duo both on the trail (rolling dips) and in camp. Mark was a master dinner chef and Bob did yeoman service providing a daily Happy Hour. Bill Carpenter rose early each morning to prepare our great breakfasts.
USFS representatives Steve Reece and Trevor Thonoff arrived on Tuesday and assisted in building rolling dips and a creek crossing. They and their cohort,Tamby Gustaffon, were extremely helpful in all our efforts prior to and throughout the week.
Trail work was hampered somewhat throughout the week by early afternoon rains but in spite of the rain, we were able to routine 1.65 miles of the CT, construct 96 water diversion structures, rebuild three creek crossings and relocate three short sections to make the trail maintainable.
Tom Croke, Brian Fagan and Eugene MacNamee returned to our crew from Dublin, Ireland and they brought the very engaging Tom Murphy with them to join in the fun and work. We all enjoyed their special brand of storytelling, singing and camaraderie. At Tom Murphy’s encouragement, five of the women crew members (Laura Farmer, Clare Foote, Kathy Phelan, Pat Spitzer and Joy Kilpatrick) formed the singing group, “The Angels of Shavano,” who serenaded us nightly with camp songs, and songs they created to the tune “Spring Time in the Rockies”. Joe “Grey Owl” Barrett and Brian Fagan entertained us with their wonderful harmonica playing around the campfire.
Our Friday evening closing festivities and awards were enhanced by another crew member from afar – Joan Casey from Philadelphia. Joan made us all laugh heartily at ourselves with her excellent, on target impressions of 14 of our crew members. We celebrated the Fourth of July Independence Day by enjoying Smores, watermelon and ice cream.
Everyone agreed that this was an exceptional week of renewing old friendships, making new ones and improving The Colorado Trail. Everyone expressed interest in returning to do the planned further work on this section of trail next year.
July 12-19, 2008,
When Ann and I return from our annual crew week our friends always ask us about the experience. I always feel my explanations are grossly inadequate. I don't seem to be able to find the proper words to express the sense of satisfaction for a job well done or the good-fellowship that is, in my mind, the foundation of the experience. It seems to be a bit like trying to explain the awe-inspiring grandeur of the Grand Canyon with a 3 X 5 photo. All I can say is that I continue to be overwhelmed by the dedication, cooperation and personal charm of the wonderful people that contribute one week of their lives to The Trail. I feel so fortunate to have been part of this crew and realize, in a way, that my inability to clearly express the joy and complexity of the week just exemplifies the special nature of the experience.
What a Crew! The quantity of work accomplished was incredible and the quality of that work was of the highest standards. They put in 30 treated post waterbars, improved 13 natural drains, built 12 rolling dips, built 380 feet of new trail, rebuilt/improved 23 waterbars, rebuilt 5 rolling dips, rebuilt 1 natural drain, debermed 230 feet of trail, built two French drains, raised the trail through a 40 foot muddy area with geotech and imported dirt and built an unbelievable 200 feet of rock/culvert work that turned what had been a rocky stream back into trail. Hikers who have walked this section after the work was completed have praised the condition of the Trail.
The really special thing about this crew, beyond the work they accomplished, was their compatibility, congeniality and everyone’s willingness to make their contribution to assure a smooth running camp. Each one was enthusiastic about volunteering for any job that needed to be done and actually finished most of the camp duties without being asked.
It was a pleasure for me to occasionally step back and observe everyone having a good time, whether it was chatting around the fire, participating in the marshmallow roasting contest, tossing the “ice-cream ball”, competing in the can smashing contest, preparing a meal or cleaning up. Everyone, from our youngest, at 14 to our most senior, at 82, participated and clearly enjoyed their experience. This camaraderie and special bond that develops is something we all take home and, speaking for myself, cherish forever. The people are what really make a crew week such a memorable the special adventure.
See you on The Trail,
Crew 0708, July 21 – 25, Cataract Ridge
Crew Members Included:
Crew 0808, July 26 – August 2, 2008, Raspberry Gulch
Volunteers worked hard again this year improving the trail. All the volunteers were from Colorado with the exception of Pat and Arthur Havey, a father and son team from Ohio, and Joe “Grey Owl” Barrett from Oklahoma who played the harmonica for the crew one evening around the campfire . First time trail volunteers were Maureen Pryor, Jodie Hansen, Steve Boyer, Pat and Arthur Havey. After setting up our individual camps, restocking the kitchen supplies and water, we were able to relax a bit and enjoy each others company. The kitchen was organized and managed by Bev Gherardini, Jodi Hansen and Penny Simpson. Special thanks to Jodie Hansen for the gourmet menu and meals, and Bill Carpenter who made the transition from the previous week’s crew so enjoyable.
Our task for the week was to add water bars, drains and general trail maintenance on section 10.1 from the Little Browns Creek Trail head to Forest Service road #273 a total of 2.6 miles. The crew was organized into 4 teams, with Ken Swierenga, Dewey Hill, Bill Carpenter and Brooks Taylor as team leaders. Team # 1 members were Pat and Arthur Havey, Whitney Medved and Penny Simpson, Team # 2 members were Bev Gherardini, Cory Zoetewey, Lisa Snelling, Ryan Zoetewey and Brett Hill. Team #3 members were Don Van Wyke, Grey Owl, Jodie Hansen and Steve Boyer. Team #4 members were Janice Taylor, Alexis Saghie and Dale Zoetewey.
Overall, we had an excellent week enjoying the work, scenery, weather, and each others company and cooking. The crew was very productive and added 29 rolling dip water bars, 20 drains along with removing the berm and slashing in water erosion areas on 2.6 miles of the Colorado Trail.
Crew 0908, July 26 – August 2, North Fork of the Swan River
Cindy Johnson and George Miller took over this crew after a last minute leadership change. John Lipe had to get a sore shoulder operated on. Hopefully John will be back next year stronger and better than before. The main goal of this week was to replace about 130 ft of bridge and boardwalk that had rotted out. We had 28 people on the crew including a large youth group from Wisconsin, all first timers, although you would never know it. We also had a great mix of veterans. Literally half our crew was 20 and under, the other half was 50 plus. Interesting.
The crew consisted of:
Cindy and Erick Johnson and Tommy Wren – Cindy, that’s me, the co-leader. A crew worker for 20 plus years. Erick is my 12 year old son yet a 4 year veteran already. This year he really stepped up and did some valuable work. Tommy is my grand daughter who is 10. This was her second year on a crew with me. She also works hard. She nailed many of those long 9 inch nails into the boardwalk.
George Miller – The other co-leader and the brains behind the operation. George did a fabulous job behind the scenes getting all the construction materials needed and on site so we could start this project on the ground and running.
Lois and Tracy Cochran from Denver – Long time trail volunteers and also happen to be the crew registration experts. They do an awesome job. They are a joy to have on a crew with lots of great ideas to make life easier in camp. Lois does a great job with her camera and did an awesome watermelon centerpiece. She also plays a mean Indian Flute.
Paul and Carolyn Sorenson from Independence, Mo – Also long time volunteers. Carolyn is Lois’s sister so they got some great family time. Carolyn was a great help in the kitchen and was part of the sawing team. Paul worked on the trail cleanup, tackling large trees stumps and roots that were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Larry Mack from Colorado Springs – He’s been around the trail crews a time or two. And his adding his ATV and chainsaw to this crew made it possible to get this ambitious project done in a week. And as is his custom, Larry was the chef du jour for every breakfast. As I am not a morning person, I for one was very grateful.
Ken Nakauchi from Broomfield – Another long time volunteer. Ken was Larry’s 1st mate on kitchen detail. Even driving back up from Denver early Thursday morning to be there to help with the breakfast that morning. Ken also helped a great deal on the trail work, making the approach to the bridge as pretty as any trail can be.
Storme Rose from Colorado Springs – Storme was gracious enough to help me with some of the shopping as there was no way I was going to fit that much food into my truck. Storme’s positive attitude was great around camp. A great help in the kitchen and on the sawing team.
Chris and P.C. Lauinger and Connor Stevenson – Three outstanding young men from Bellaire, Tx. - It was great to have the energy and strength of these gentlemen. And I think they were just a little bit happy they happened to be on a crew that also had so many young ladies. Timing is everything.
The Wisconsin crew – The teens, Alison and Hilary Haskel. Roza Hlaban, Jenna Smith, Morgen Moraine, Cal and Wil Tyler, Macenzie Magnus and Nora Walker. All these kids were great. They were enthusiastic, hard working, mature, respectful and talented. The adults who made sure they all got here and back home and coordinated and helped with the leadership were Karen Haskell, Tom Hlaban, Jim Tyler, Phil Smith, Patricia Walker. They entertained us each night around the campfire with guitar playing and singing and I heard there was some Twister being played.
As for the work effort, we started the week with the placement of a temporary footbridge and a rough trail to be used as a detour while we worked during the week. This detour was then turned into the horse crossing. Next came the demolition phase. We had teams working from both ends of the boardwalk and on the bridge. The demo went quickly. We also had a saw team getting all the pieces ready for the build. Thanks to Larry Mack and his chain saw, that job also was quickly done. All the wood had to be transported to the bridge site. Much was carried manually and Larry and his ATV handled larger pieces. Again this sped up our process. The bridge construction went very well also until batteries went dead on our drills. George found a friendly neighbor who let us charge up the batteries again. Then, as we were getting close to the end, we ran out of the special nine inch nails. George searched every hardware store in Summit County and could find none. So we unfortunately had to leave the last few feet of the boardwalk unfinished. We opened the new route anyway and George was able to get back up there within a week to finish the job. Throughout this process, the teamwork was awesome. Every member worked very hard. Things went so well, besides the bridge, we were also able to send a crew a couple miles up the trail to clear a bunch of fallen trees and to do trail maintenance for a quarter mile on either side of the bridge, greatly improving the quality of the trail.
Personally, I have been on many crews over the years and can never say I have had a bad experience. No two crews are ever the same. It’s part of what brings me back each year along with the physical work, the feeling of camaraderie, the people you meet along the way, the knowledge you receive from the experiences of all these people and the sense of accomplishment afterwards, when at the beginning of the week, you thought, you want me to do what? Yet you trust and you move one rock at a time, nail one board at a time, remove one root at a time, or build one water bar at a time and at the end of the week, you have done it after all. Great job team. Y’all come back now. See you next year.