Elbert Before switchback

These mountains are cathedrals of stone, and I feel like I am moving individual hairs. These hairs weigh hundreds of pounds, and we are moving them to give the mountain a styling. We are trying to make it look pretty for all the weekend warriors and eager explorers.

We are on Mount Elbert, and because it is the tallest Fourteener in the state, it attracts a lot of people that think they can conquer it. In their conquering conquests they erode these beautiful hillsides, sloughing precious soil and tundra in their wake. We at CFI know how important the tundra is for the mountains, so we try to protect it.

It is a fine line we walk while protecting these powerful peaks. We have to tread on the treasured tundra in order to receive the royal rocks that we use to help maintain these trails. Its like playing a game of hot lava, hopping from rock to rock as to avoid damaging the grasses. The real damage is done when we have to move these rocks to the trail. This movement can be done by carrying, rolling, or shuffling, but no matter what you are sure to impact some of the tundra.

After the rock is on the trail, the real work starts. We dig holes to make it fit perfectly, to make each hair fit together in a combination of functionality and aesthetic appeal. The goal is that these rocks will erase the never-ending erosion that eats away at these mountains. The hope, or maybe my hope, is that the end product is acceptable to the mountain that has to live with this hair cut for potentially hundreds of years. But again, if it finds our manicuring unacceptable, it can always shed a few more rock hairs to change its impossibly immaculate image.

mt elbert before and after

Dylan Barbash

Hey there, my name is Dylan Barbash, and I hail from the majestic mini-slopes of Maryland. I am leading the Adopt a Peak Crew this season, and I am excited to see the incredible landscapes that Colorado has to offer. I came here from the Big Sky state of Montana leading volunteer crews, and I am looking forward to working with more incredible volunteers this season. I also like long walks on the beach, singing my favorite Disney theme songs on the trail, and wasting away nights next to campfires.