Saturday, October 28, 2017

Hooray for Trail Work!

On how many trail work days have you found yourself so energized and excited by the project you're working on that you rush through lunch so you can hurry back to the trails and keep working?  Yeah, in my experience, never.   But that's what happened today, and the reason, as several people said to me over the course of the long day, is that it's a hell of a lot more fun to build new trails than it is to maintain them.

Build new trails?  Yes!  A small handful of KSC members put in some very focused, committed, and creative work recently to forge a partnership with the Nature Conservancy that allows us to build new trails on Amabilis -- seriously!  Here is Suzanne's synopsis of what's been happening:
"... the proposal I pulled together [is] a rather thin preliminary proposal in anticipation of a more robust plan and grant application in March and sent to TNC Sept 1. Frank, Don and I collaborated on this throughout the summer. The red trails on the map are the ones we wanted to finish up this year. You will see that is a bit ambitious given our time frame. We have not yet finished mapping out the final plan (the five-year goal) and that will include additional trails radiating out from the saddle and also trails on Forest Service land. Don is the genius behind the trail plan; Frank is the genius behind the viewpoints and culvert reparation needs, and the networker extraordinaire (he set me up with the TNC people); and I am the writer and the make-happener (holding the whip on due dates, and keeping our eyes on the main goals.) Rune and Keith are both very quick on legalistic turnarounds. We are a good team."

So the paperwork was signed on Thursday, two days ago, and today we met at the cabin bright and early on a breathtakingly gorgeous October day, carpooled up to the saddle on Amabilis, and built a new trail from scratch!  Don and Frank led the way with their chainsaws, cutting down the trees in the way of the new trail, and the rest of us followed behind with loppers and clippers, trimming the branches off the down trees and throwing the debris into the forest so the new trail doesn't look so raw.  We moved the logs we could off the trail and left the others for tomorrow's chainsaw gang, and lightly trimmed the huckleberry bushes so they won't gunk up Nick's groomer (yes, this new baby trail will be groomed!).

It's not pretty yet; pretty trails aren't built in a day.  But tomorrow Jim and some others (maybe you?) are going to head up there to chop up the big logs and trim down the stumps we left behind, and the Wednesday crew will do some more magic then.  It's possible we'll get snow by the end of the week and this year's trail work season may be over, but we've made a solid start on the new trails.  The one we built today is only a kilometer (we can only do so much in one day!), but it's going to be a lovely addition to the existing trail system on Amabilis (and it has a surprise peek-a-boo view that you will love).  Best of all, it demonstrates a new and valuable partnership with the Nature Conservancy that is going to have a long-lasting effect, especially as the trail systems along the I-90 corridor get more and more crowded and climate change has us climbing higher and higher looking for snow.

It was an immensely satisfying day; many many thanks to everyone who showed up, either to work on the new trail, or to spruce up the old trail, or to get the snowmobiles and other machinery in tip-top condition, ready for winter.

Pulling a cut tree ...

... and flipping a cut tree

Don, the human bulldozer


Jeff, looking a little like a male model!

Ryder (smarter and better behaved than many humans!), Linnea, and Sharon

Uber trail designers!

No one is too young for trail work!

Rudy shows us how dogs do trail work

Glenn, dancing with the trees


Part of the gang

Trees down, new trail coming into view

More new trail

Frank says the branches we threw into the woods will look like this in 10 or 20 years, or 100

One more picture of happy-dog Rudy

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