Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Trail is Born

This is how a new ski trail is born.  It starts out percolating, along with a bunch of other potential new trail ideas, in Don Brooks' mind.  He starts walking a line, clearing brush, taking out small trees, laying culverts across wet spots.  Sometimes other people help him on trail work days; sometimes he's out there by himself, with his shovel and axe.  Greg Jacobson starts looking at the hydrology of the swampy areas, starts envisioning bridges and work-arounds, starts moving dirt around.  Then one day, they say, it's time to groom this baby and see how it skis.  And that day was today, the first ever time this brand new trail has been groomed!



Todd Stiles used to call it the Dead Horse Trail, after some icky person left a, you know, there in the trail.  Ozzie calls it Brooks' Trail.  Its official name is the Upper Yakima River Trail, but that's too cumbersome.  Greg calls it the YRT, but that still doesn't convey the fun, light-hearted nature of the trail, the insouciance of the trail as it winds through the woods, up and down cute little hillocks, along the river, from the loop that connects the two parking lots at Cabin Creek all the way to Stampede Pass Road.  So I've decided to call it the Yak Track.  And grooming it for the first time was no walk in the park.

First the guys built a snow ramp at the end of Cabin Creek road so they could drive the snowmobile onto Greg's truck.




Then they built another snow ramp at the end of the lower parking lot so they could off-load the snowmobile.



Then they repeated the whole process with the track sled.


And then Greg started grooming, and Don and I skied behind him.


But the story doesn't end so easily as that!  We came to a big creek across the trail, too big to drive or ski across.  Where I would have said, oh well, I guess we have to turn back, the guys just got out their saws and hatchets and shovels and built a bridge, laying logs and branches across the stream and then packing in snow to fill it in.  Did it work, or did the snowmobile end up in the creek?



It worked!


One more obstacle on our way to Stampede Pass Road: that last hill up to the road almost turned out to be too steep for the trusty snowmobile ...





... but they shoveled and pushed and pulled and shoveled and got it up there, where Greg turned it around and came back down and we headed back toward Cabin Creek.  But there was one more steep uphill on the way back that almost thwarted us completely.


Don and Greg shoveled and pushed and pulled some more, even shoveling the top off the hill to make it less steep, and that heavy snowmobile and track sled made it up.  Success!

Greg drove and Don and I skied all the way back to the upper parking lot, satisfied with a good hard day of work.  The route skis beautifully, in and out of trees, with peek-a-boo views of the river.  Now all we need is for the Mountaineers or State Parks to groom that trail consistently with the ten-foot groomer, to pack it down and smooth out the bumps, and we will have a pretty little trail that will make a great alternative to the road at Cabin Creek and, someday, be another link in the dream of connecting all the trails in the Snoqualmie Pass/I-90 corridor.  Nice work, Don and Greg!


PS. It may look like all I did was stand around and take pictures, and that would be exactly right.  I know better than to get in the way of big strong men doing big strong manly things with sharp and heavy objects!

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