Thursday, January 19, 2012

2012 Stewardship Kick-Off

Cathedral Spires Adopt-A-Crag, Jan 14th

Conditions were perfect for a trail project. In January. Well, almost.

More than twenty local climbers gathered in the Cathedral Spires turnout on the morning of January 14th. Joined by staff from Jefferson County Open Space, Access Fund and Colorado Mountain Club, the group was eager to take in one last cup of coffee and start hiking to shake off the frosty morning. This group was brought together to improve the very steep and unsustainable trail leading up to Cathedral Spires, including Cynical Pinnacle and the Sunshine Wall.

What makes a trail unsustainable? This trail was user created and therefore not engineered to shed water. When users try to take the shortest route between point A and B, they usually hike straight up or down hill – what we call “fall line” trails. By adding switchbacks, we created better drainage for the trail. This eliminates erosion and gullies and, while it makes the hike longer, it will improve the user experience. We eliminated the dangerous route over rocks covered in decomposing granite (think ball bearings.) Volunteers each hauled two tools up the hill – one to help break up the frozen ground and one to create a smooth finished tread. The toughest part of the day was dealing with frozen soil. As the sun moved across the sky, the ground began to thaw – but not after a few hard swings into ice that reverberated throughout your entire musculoskeletal system. By 2pm, most volunteers were down to T-shirts, enjoying the warmish weather and sunshine. The climbers chatted amongst themselves about local routes, new guidebooks, and getting their kids up to the crags.

After 1300’ of new trail construction (or scuffing where frozen), volunteers gathered to win door prizes from the Access Fund. Local bar and grill, Zoka’s, provided a steep discount on meals for volunteers at the end of the day. The Colorado Mountain Club kicked off the 2012 stewardship season with a great project – many thanks to our professional and well organized partners and our enthusiastic volunteers! Stay tuned for the 2012 Stewardship Calendar!

Lisa Cashel
Stewardship Manager