Over the past seven weeks CFI Project Managers on Mt. Columbia have had the pleasure of working along side an 11 person crew from Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. On Thursday we said goodbye to five of the RMYC members who are off to continue their education elsewhere. They will be missed and their replacements have big shoes to fill through the conclusion of the season and “Phase I” of the Mt. Columbia re-route.


A RMYC member flies a kite on Mount Columbia after a long day of work.

Working with the Corps Crew as a Project Manager has been tremendously rewarding. In 2010 I served as a Corps Member with Southwest Conservation Corps working with CFI to complete the re-route for Sunlight Peak. That was a transformative experience for me. I doubt I would have continued my career doing trail work without it. Additionally, I had aspired ever since that summer to one day work for CFI, now I do. It’s been great to share my knowledge with the crew and I’m continually impressed at how much I learn from them.

In other news… each time we’ve hiked in to base camp over the last 4 weeks we’ve passed the same tent. 20 feet off trail, bear hang 5 feet from the ground, no owner in sight. On contacting the Forest Service they requested that we pack out the tent, which we did while hiking out yesterday. Inside the tent we found a sleeping bag, inflated pad, an extra pair of quality hiking shorts, a headlamp, extra padding which usually comes with a climbing helmet, and a few other pieces of gear. Everything was seemingly brand new. The tent and it’s contents are now at the USFS Leadville Ranger District Office, but where is the hiker? If this gear belongs to you or someone you know, please contact the USFS Leadville Ranger District for more information.

Want to learn more about CFI’s project on Mount Columbia? Check out the recent article in the Gazette which highlights a few of the youth corp members and how they got involved with alpine trail building projects. http://gazette.com/fixing-colorados-battered-14000-foot-peaks-is-a-tall-order/article/1581874

CFI and RMFI base camp. Photo by: Seth Boster

Crew members working on a new trail reroute. Photo by: Seth Boster

A huge thank you goes out to Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) who has supported CFI longer than any other corporate sponsor! Last summer REI hosted the “Every Trail Connects” campaign to raise money for trail construction and maintenance projects around the United States. Through this campaign REI donated $85,000 to help fund the five-year Mount Columbia trail construction project!

Preston Hovenkamp

Preston is one of the Project Managers on Mt. Columbia. He is originally from East Texas and has spent the past 8 years doing trail and conservation work all over the Rocky Mountain West. When he’s not on a project he enjoys exploring by bike.