Hello fellow mountain lovers,
Yet another successful season is coming to an end here at CFI. I have had the great pleasure of managing a project in Chicago Basin deep inside the Weminuche Wilderness. The crew, Tom, Steena, and I, have completed and opened the reroute on the approach trail to Eolus. The trail is stunning. This season Tom and I hired our own staff instead of using a Youth Corp crew because of the intensity and skill level required for the project. This has benefited us greatly. The crew consists of six hard working, determined, passionate trail workers who have picked up rock work so fast and have really impressed Tom, Steena, and me. It is so exciting to witness the next generation of CFI staff in formation!
So, believe it or not, it may be summer in the rest on the U.S., but it’s winter in the Weminuche. Last hitch (the end of August) it snowed on us every day – for eight days! Brrrr… One day, when there was too much snow to work, I was picking through The Song of the Alpine (a wonderful book about seasons and life in the Rockies) and read this passage that made me giggle: “The rigorous climate of the alpine zone led old-timers to say two seasons grace the high country: winter and July.”
The season change happened so fast. During hitch number six, the crew was dipping into Twin Lakes everyday. Two CFI staffers visited us and even hiked up an inflatable sea turtle and stingray to float around the alpine lakes! Then hitch seven began and we woke up to our thermometer at base camp reading 30 degrees and four inches of snow at our worksite. Four inches of snow makes it very difficult to work. No fingers. No toes. Just cold.
These mornings carry some of the most spectacular views. Everything is quiet. No hikers. No goats. Just us trail kids looking to get in a day’s work. We survive with hand warmers, body warmers, toe warmers and so many layers. We hike up to the worksite and endure this discomfort day after day. Somehow, we manage to restore the old trail, transplant, fire line, quarry rock and set check dams without feeling our extremities. And we laugh, joke, are awed by the views, do sun dances, make snow angels and carry on. Sharing this level of intensity with the crew is an amazing experience. It makes us feel invincible. If we can survive this and still make angels in the snow, what else are we capable of?
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!