Well Folks, That’s a Wrap!
Now that the numbers have been counted, gear packed up, reorganized, and all the tools have been cleaned and placed to rest for the winter setting in linseed oil, the mind is flooded with time to decompress and reflect upon the 2016 CFI season up in the Chicago Basin.
I am not going to lie and say the season was a breeze. Each season has its challenges; physical as well as mental, and I believe that is why us trail workers keep coming back. You learn the lessons that the “real world” doesn’t offer to most. I don’t think I have ever been so physically worked and ate as much as I did this season.
The Mt. Eolus reroute was a grand success. The crew really blew our minds with how quickly they picked up the rock work (most had no prior experience). The trail is truly one of the most beautiful pieces of work I have ever laid my eyes upon. Tom, Miriam and I are extremely thankful for all the efforts from each individual on the crew. They never complained; they endured the grauppel, rain, snow, wind, sun each and every day. We would begin each day gaining 2,200-2,600 feet in elevation traveling from basecamp to the worksite. (You better believe that the hike turned into a stroll.) As a crew we collectively hiked about 3,961 miles this season.
The Eolus crew built 1,600 feet of new trail, with features including steps, staircases and crushed paths. The rocks in the staircases are enormous. A most frequently asked question was “How does one move rocks those size?!” Well, with rock bars and pure rolling power. Working in straight up talus is quite the unique setting (elevation ranging from 13,200-13,600 feet). At the end of the trail one will encounter “the Great Wall of Eolus.” It runs about 100 feet long and around 4 feet tall.
We not only finished the new trail but closed the old socially-created route. The old trail was through alpine tundra, extremely steep and washing out (not sustainable). This work included a lot of rock disguise (3,791 square feet), transplanting alpine grasses in the form of “plugs” (495 plugs), and installing check dam (49) features to eventually build the trail back up overtime. In the end we restored about 2,000 feet of trail through tundra.
With about 3396 human hours worked between 9 people in about 4 months, we could not be happier with the results on Eolus. I would like to thank the Eolus crew once again for their outstanding job this season, as well as the support from the CFI office (Ben, Jerry, Lloyd and Brian); and one last thanks to the extremely important donors, supporters and hikers that have made the funding happen for this project. Chicago Basin has been one of the most magical places I have ever had the opportunity to live. Thank you all for this season, it was sincerely one of a kind.
A huge thank you goes out to the National Forest Foundation and Colorado Parks and Wildlife “State Trails Program” for funding the Mount Eolus project this season!