Most hikers can appreciate the amount of work it takes to build a trail from scratch. The hiking, the digging, the pushing around of giant rocks, the picking up and carrying of slightly less giant rocks… But how many folks think about what happens before anyone even starts swinging any tools?
I know I sure didn’t. This being my first season with CFI, I had no idea what I was getting myself into! So I’m going to walk you through it because it’s a major undertaking to prepare for the start of the first year of a 5 year project!
First things first. We need to find the trail. Which can prove difficult upon a somewhat later thaw…
First try was pretty unsuccessful. But perseverance pays off!
Next things next. Once we’ve located and cleared the trail of the snow, we’ve got to make sure it’s clear of snags and blowdowns.
The whole process took about a month, from the first scouting mission in mid May when the postholing was hip deep most of the time, through the staff training shovel-fest, and subsequent weeks clearing down trees, lopping willows through swampy areas, draining mud pits and cutting corridor. And this was all to prepare the trail for the mule team to come through with all of our stuff for basecamp and the project.
The next stage was packing up the loads for the mules, weighing them to make sure they’re even and keeping an eye on the shape of each load so that they ride evenly on the mules. Stuff was everywhere! In order to make sure each load weighs out right, we needed to mix and match the contents of every load. Tools end up mixed in with kitchen gear, food ends up with extra clothes… and we get to sort it all out at the top!
The only thing left was to set up basecamp.
It was an awesome process to be a part of! And really cool to see first hand exactly how much work goes into preparing for this kind of project. CFI knows how to get it done! And get it done in style!!
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!
CFI would also like to thank Colorado Parks and Wildlife “State Trails Program” for funding the project!