2011 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!
Weeklong Crew 0111
June 25 – July 2
Comments from the crew…
“The best part of my work week was the people I worked with. Oh yeah, digging in the dirt was okay too. I was clueless about dips, bars, pulaski’s, pickmatics, and so on, but now I am EDUCATED!! (Thanks, old timers and Tom!). Advice: Take pictures!” ~Tom “Doc” Brucia
"The trail crew is an excellent way to pay it forward. I finished the trail in 2001 and decided if I use it I should pay it back. 10 years later I’m still at it. All the years have been good and have had great leaders and fellow workers. Meeting new friends makes it worth the work.” ~Dallas Peterson
“My wife and I thru-hiked the trail in 2010 and were amazed at the work that was done to maintain the trail. We wanted to volunteer for a trail crew to pay back for the enjoyment we had while hiking it. We were very impressed with Tom’s way of handling & educating the crew. He not only showed us how to maintain the trail, but also explained the effects of the different procedure we were using. The food and crew were really great. We really enjoyed having the young people on the crew. They were entertaining and worked hard. It was a super way to spend a week. We are thankful for The Colorado Trail. Thank you.” ~Mick & Cindy Jeffery
Day 1 – Saturday
The rest of the crew arrived in the afternoon and after setting up their tents, we all came together for introductions. We were an eclectic mix ranging in age from seventeen to seventy. Many were fellow Coloradoans, but others came from Texas, Florida and the East Coast. While there were a few experienced hands, over half of us had no trail maintenance experience and a few had never camped before.
Tom Brooksher gave us a quick pep talk and posted a list of chores for the week. It didn’t take long for everyone to sign up. Then our first group of volunteers prepared a Mexican buffet for dinner and we gathered around our campfire to eat, swap stories and sing songs. Despite our different backgrounds and ages, we started to bond almost immediately.
Day 2 – Sunday
After a leisurely breakfast of pancakes, bacon, applesauce and oatmeal, we loaded our packs and the tools we’d need for trail maintenance. These included, shovels, McLeods, assort picks, rock bars and hard hats for our safety. Then we loaded three pickup trucks and jumped aboard for the ride to the trailhead that would be our starting point.
We cached our tools, got a safety and trail building lesson, and then hiked out to the section of trail we would begin working on the next day. The scenery was spectacular. We were in a long, wide, grassy valley encircled by a lodge pole and aspen forest. Running through the center of the valley was Lost Creek, a thin sliver of silver almost hidden by the tall, lush green grass. To our north, the Colorado Trail wound through the Lost Creek Wilderness Area. To our south, the Tarryall Peak Mountain Range towered over the landscape and to our west; Kenosha Pass marked the Continental Divide.
That night, we had an excellent dinner of brisket prepared earlier by Cindy and Mick Jeffery for the trip. In addition, there were baked potatoes, salad, corn and peanut butter crunch cake. Then it was back to the campfire for more stories and song thanks to Tom Brooksher’s guitar skills and vast repertoire of music. One song we sang twice was Folsom City Blues by Johnny Cash.
Day 3 – Monday
We collected our tools from the cache and then headed east on the Colorado Trail. Once we arrived at our destination, Tom gave those of us new to trail maintenance additional instruction in the use of each tool and overall trail maintenance with an emphasis on safety. Tom then explained that our work on the trail would meet standards set for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians and our goal was for these improvements to last at least ten years.
Meanwhile, Bob Hunter, an experienced hiker and an old hand at trail maintenance took on another challenge. Some years previously, a large boulder the size of a go-kart had broken off a surrounding cliff and tumbled onto the trail. Bob made it his mission to move the boulder off the trail. He recruited a young newcomer, Chris Stewart, to help him.
By the end of the day, we were all tired, but also filled with a deep sense of satisfaction for the work we had accomplished. As we hiked out, we met up with Bob and Chris who were still working on moving the big boulder and out of some frustration had named it, the “You SOB Rock.” They vowed to finish the job the next day.
That night we feasted on BBQ pork sandwiches, salad, fresh green beans, chips, and had peach fruit crisp for desert. Then we sat around the campfire telling stories and singing songs including Folsom City Blues again.
Day 4 – Tuesday
At the same time, Bob and Chris went back to the “You SOB Rock.”
By the end of the day, the culvert was completed and the “You SOB Rock” successfully moved completely off the trail and down the slope. Exhausted and happy, we marched back to camp for a dinner of spaghetti, garlic bread and brownies for desert. Then we settled around the campfire and sang Folsom City Blues again with additional tunes from John Denver and the Beatles.
Day 5 – Wednesday
We gathered that night for a meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole and pudding and cookies for desert.
Day 6 – Thursday
We hiked west into the area formally known as the “Big Bog.” The name was somewhat misleading since Tom had led crews in the past few years to work on the trail and lay culverts to keep the path dry. All that was required from us was some additional fix-up work. We reset a culvert that had been put in too high by digging it out and then digging down to reset it so that it was now well below tread level. On another culvert, we added 8” of cover dirt to bring the tread height well over the top of the culvert. We also cleaned and widened the trail in the west end of the bog and put a rock drain in an area that was dry, but had been seeping.
As the morning progressed, cumulus clouds began to build. At first, the cover from the sun they provided was welcome, but around 2:00 the skies turned threatening and we were suddenly hit with a fierce downpour and hail. We took cover to wait out the worst of the storm and then gathered our tools for a quick retreat back to our trucks and camp.
The rain stayed with us through the rest of the afternoon and a good chunk of the evening. Most of us retired to our tents after dinner, so there were no renditions of Folsom City Blues this night.
Day 7 – Friday
We were now old hands at trail maintenance and the day passed quickly. When the time came to gather our tools and leave, we surveyed our work with a deep sense of pride. And I realized that what had first seemed daunting had turned out to be easily accomplished. I was happy. I had passed my internal test and as I looked around at my new friends, I knew that they felt the same.
That night after a dinner of hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, chips and watermelon, we celebrated around the campfire with more story telling and a final rendition of Folsom City Blues.
Day 8 – Saturday
Work Accomplished: We spent 2 ½ days doing general trail improvement consisting primarily of taking out hundreds of small bushes that had grown up by the side of the trail, removing berm on the downside of the trail, widening the tread and removing deep ruts caused by erosion. Installed 12 rolling, restored another 6. Improved 7/8th of a mile of tread.
We spent another ½ day installing a culvert on the eastern end of the area we improved, including doing a great deal of upstream work to ensure that the uphill water would all collect and flow down the stream bed and into the culvert, rather than spreading and hitting the trail at multiple points.
We spent the remaining day working further west in what was formally the “big bog” area doing fix-up to work done by crew 0409. The previous work done in the big bog is holding nicely, though prior to our crew this summer has been unusually dry. However, in 2010 as well as 2011 thus far the bog area has been completely dry after the initial summer melt. We went back and reset a culvert that 0409 put in too high. We dug it out, dug down and reset it so that it is well below tread level. On another culvert that was installed many years ago we added about 8” of cover dirt to bring the tread height well over the top of the culvert. We also cleaned and widened the trail in the west end of the bog that 0409 didn’t get to, and put a rock drain in an area that was dry, but had been seeping.
Comments from the crew…and a thru-hiker…
“So this is my first experience on a CT trail crew. What a great group of people. I’m thinking that we’re a good team. The camp is great – food, WOW!"
“Cindy is an extremely competent leader. Learning lots."
“Also gotta say this, the porta potties are FIRST CLASS. Very clean and have night lights… of all things. To whoever picked these out, you scored big!” ~Judy “Garland”
“CTF crew volunteers are the most awesome people. Everyone willingly pitches in with all the camp chores."
“Teamwork makes the hard trail work ‘doable’ even for us girls. I always love the cooperation & camaraderie of the women’s crew."
“This is my 3rd women’s crew now & I look forward to many more. I’m always pleased to see the diversity in these crews, yet we all come together very quickly as a team to accomplish our goals."
“We arrive as strangers; we leave as family.” ~ ”Green Jeans” Jean Mortensen
“I have seen some of the most beautiful women working on The Colorado Trail. And, have been given inspiration.” ~Joy “to the World”
“I have spread my dreams under your feet. Tread Softly because you tread on my dreams.” ~W.B. Yeat
“Gosh, this is an awesome vacation!! I am writing this under duress (back off Jean J), but I really do mean it. I love being with other like-minded women in the great outdoors doing stuff that matters and feels good. I’m sorry we’ll be done tomorrow, but I know I’ll be back for more. I hope all you Colorado natives appreciate the beauty of this great state. It sure ain’t like this is Kansas.” ~Renée
Women in the wilds
“Loved being outdoors in our beautiful state. Thanks for the opportunity. I got more out of this that the trail I think! Great being able to spend time w/ Blackeyed Carter. Let us be 8 & 9 again camping in the mountains.” ~”Mother” Theresa
“Whoa! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d meet so many starlets, royals and saints on the CT! I had no idea that trail crews attracted such a high caliber of volunteers. As a humble and lowly thru-hiker I feel honored and blessed to share two delicious meals with such rarified company. Not only was the food truly gourmet and the trail in perfect condition, but the conversation, jokes and kind hospitality were very much appreciated after a difficult six days on the trail. My best to you all!!! Thanks for making by day!” Steve Martin
Work Accomplished: 2 miles of trail worked. Added waterbars, check steps, removed roots, de-birmed trail, cut back brush, cut down trees, constructed horse crossing.
Comments from the crew…and a thru-hiker…
“Being on a trail crew is a cheap vacation. Great exercise. It will help me last as long as my granddaughter and one of them is 6 yrs. old!” Brooks Taylor
“Amazing Sunday dinner: pan-fried tilapia with mango chutney, asparagus… gourmet food on the trail crew! Congratulations to our chefs Jim Ballantyne, Cathy Hoch, Linda Johnson, Dana Fetterman, Janice Taylor."
"Huge thanks to Ann Norris and Karen Thompson who prepared much of our camp food ahead of time and to Janice Taylor for being our Kitchen Coordinator!” ~Anonymous
“Volunteers are a special breed of caring people, with high ideas and a willingness to cooperate to maintain one of America’s treasures – The Colorado Trail. Thanks for letting me be a part of the Foundation’s work.” ~Janice Taylor
“Yay!” ~ Aileen
“Hiking the CT from Denver to Creede was beautiful and absolutely amazing. We enjoyed every uphill, every downhill… every cow patty. Though we jumped off the Trail, we feel very fortunate to have met y’all. Thank you for EVERY THING y’all have done. We hikers live for this and y’all make it even more special! Thank you for the hospitality and hard work!” ~Allie Crissy
“I always have mixed feelings on our last morning of camp. During the week through community work and play we create our own special bond up here in the mountains. My body is ready to go home and rest but my heart will miss my CT Friends. See you next year!” ~Suzanne
Work Accomplished: 1455 Ft. of trail widened to standard, 492 ft. trail reroute, 1 steel culvert installed with headwall & drain, 1 rock culvert installed, turnpike with ditches installed, 51 waterbars & 20 rolling dips installed of reconstructed.
Comments from the crew…
Joel: “Mel, you seem to be breathing a little heavy.”
Bill Carpenter: “This is Raspberry Gulch. I think we head this way…”
“I know that you already know this, but Bill Carpenter is a wonderful work crew leader. I had a very positive experience… Loren was a great help with transportation and during the trip. Our entire crew worked well together.” ~Don Jansen
After a volunteer cooked the rice as 2 parts rice, 1 part water instead of the other way around… “The rice… maybe we could use it for mortar? Do we need a foundation???”
Work Accomplished: Installed and rebuilt 104 rolling dips. Repaired 1200 ft. of tread, 1 knick, 1 climbing turn, and 2 switchbacks.
Comments from the crew…
“Such a wonderful week in the mountains. My 2nd trail crew with Cindy. I know there will be more for me in the future. Big difference between trail maintenance and trail building. Learned to hate rocks, but enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment. "
“Fellow trail builders were amazing. A hard working crew!” ~Susan Saranwrap
“My first ever trail volunteer experience, but certainly not my last. 20 “something” people coming together to work on the trail is insane! However, what and incredible event to work as a team for a common goal. To see a chunk of rocky, mountain forest become a “trail” is an absolute hoot! Sign me up for next year!” ~Charlie Boleman
“Second year with Cindy at Winfield. Absolutely awesome again. The weather was perfect for trail building. The work was tough but we pulled through! Can’t wait for next year!” ~Drew Rothrock
“Food was great and couldn’t stop eating. Unfortunately a head cold came into play for me and a couple other people so my sense of taste was just a little off. Spent the work days in the blazin’ sun trying to pry out rocks but some of those suckers are BIG! Had a great free day at the expensive hot springs and my last day here is right around the corner. I really wish that I could stay longer in this absolutely beautiful weather but I am also looking forward to a shower and a bed. I had a great time this year and Cindy did a great job of leading the crew. We got over 1300 feet of trail completed and in progress.”
“What’s gonna work? Teamwork!”
Work Accomplished: 920 feet of new trail completed and another 400 feet of corridor started on the Continental Divide Trail.
Work Accomplished: Assisted Continental Divide Trail Alliance build new trail.
Work Accomplished: Completed 28 check steps, 19 check dams, 7 rolling dips, 4 water bars, 40 ft. of turnpike and routine 3 miles of tread.
Work Accomplished: 1743 ft. of tread improved. 1 rock water bar and 1 switchback.
Work Accomplished: Built two 8’ bridges and fixed 150 feet of eroded trail and put in 4 waterbars.
Work Accomplished: Enhanced 1 miles of tread by improving back slope, cutting knicks and moving tread out of ravine. Trimmed back vegetation on .5 miles of trail.
Work Accomplished: Assisted Forest Service in construction of a 30’ bridge. Built 30’ equestrian crossing through S. Fooses Creek. Constructed the following: 7 check steps, 7 rolling dips, 6 knicks and 1 rock bar. Also constructed 200’ of new trail next to trail that floods.
Comments from the crew…and a thru-hiker…
"CT thru SoBo, day 13
The woods are lovely, dark and deep
Thank you for your gracious hospitality! We really appreciate your work. To forthcoming thru-hikers: DIG DEEP!" ~Fritz Nuffer
"This crew was exceptional just like all the rest I have participated in.
"Roses are red, violets are blue
"At first it sounded like we had a weeks' worth of work to do in 2 ½ days, but the crew all came together. The great food gave us the needed energy, it mainly rained at night and it looks like we'll get it all finished!!! Another great time on The Colorado Trail." ~John Marcotte
"Fooses creek flows swift
"County singer Randy Travis had a song a few years back called "Three Wooden Crosses." The hook line was "It's not what you take when you leave this world behind you, it's what you leave behind you when you go." I think that describes everyone on this crew and is what keeps us coming back." ~Bill Berglan
"Our arrival was normal; 'Oh, you must be the Riffles'"
"Steve met us and we eventually set up camp. I met some old friend and ate dinner, talked old times and speculated on the morrow."
"The late comers straggled in and finally the next morn! MA and Pat showed their faces."
"MA has the kind of smile that just sucks you in… plus her eyes. Patrick is a perfect companion for MA; they are definitely a couple."
"The work was the main focus, but watching the interaction amongst the crew was the past time. I love working with you all because it's a great mix of [newbies] and old pros. It was a pleasure working with you on such an ambitious project and I will always remember our shared experience." ~Gary Riffle
"Another exceptional volunteer CT crew. With wide variety of interests, personalities and experiences, everyone seemed to get along extremely well on the trail and off. I'm amazed because this is the norm on the crews I've worked and the work gets accomplished." ~Ken Nakauchi
"What a great way to give back for such a wonderful gift – The Colorado Trail… found some muscles that hadn't been used for a long time, but mostly found a wonderful group of people who were so much fun to hang out with, great food thanks to Elayna in a beautiful location – all orchestrated by a dedicated leader, Steve! Thanks Steve, Elayna & John for all your hard work to make this trail crew happen!" ~Kathy Phelan
"Why do I keep coming back? The People!"
"Working on the Trail is a great way to meet people from all over the country & the world, and hang out in the gorgeous, majestic Colorado Rocky Mountains together."
"The challenge of cooking for 20 people is one I enjoy. Whew!" ~Elayna Lipe
Comments from the crew…
“Hello WE411 Trail Crew!! Many thanks from the CTF for the fabulous work done on Georgia Pass! And special thanks to Dan “(Berek) who debriefed me yesterday. Thanks for your help. Happy trails.” ~Steve Staley
“It was a pleasure to meet everyone and work with you. I believe we made a great contribution to the trail. Safe adventures to all this summer.” ~Rhonda Weiler
“As Rhonda has already indicated, it was a pleasure to meet everyone. I have always enjoyed the comradeship associated with trail crews with ours being truly special. Thanks for a weekend of great work and socializing."
“I hope to see all of you again on a future trail crew, hiking the trail, on a peak, or elsewhere. Special thanks to Jake and Casey for representing the younger generation of Trail care givers. Please stay involved and encourage your friends as well. Thanks to Steve for all his great work with CTF and for making the trail crew possible. Thanks to Stacey and Jeff for cooking dinner and thanks to everyone for a great time."
“Montani semper liberi (may the mountains always be free).” ~Dan Berek
Work Accomplished: Took out 400 yards of abraded, dust track trail. Built 20 water bars and installed 1 guidepost.