Trail season 2017 is off to a running start! Or, in my case, a slushy, slogging start through the remaining piles and fields of snow at the base and on the trail of Quandary Peak. I’m back for my third season with CFI and second on Quandary, but the beginning of every season feels a little different to me. There are always some commonalities: a couple of weeks of staff training followed by a quick transition into work mode.
This year, staff training was full of new and familiar faces and exercises. We started with a week of work at our field base getting to know the skills and demands of this season, and we wrapped up with a week in the field, helping the Mount Elbert crew get a start on their big reroute project.
The week of field work during staff training is always a glimpse of what’s to come, but is never the same. Last year, we spent much of the week shoveling remaining snow pack off of the Mount Columbia trail to ensure that the crew would be able to pack in with mules at their prearranged time. This year, our work on Mount Elbert was at a lower elevation, and without much snow in our way, we dove straight into digging new tread! I love the initial chance to warm up and hone my trail skills, and the training week always includes valuable lessons in a variety of topics ranging from health and safety to ecological restoration.
Having finished another successful two weeks of training, I headed to Quandary at the beginning of June with our small crew to find a surprising (but not that surprising) amount of snow remaining in our intended basecamp site. And so more digging began! We’re off to a slightly snowy, but good, start to another season on Quandary.