On the trail crew


Trails 2000 has adopted the section from Slide Rock down to Gudy’s Rest above Junction Creek, roughly a 15-mile section of the epic 500-mile trail that connects Denver to Durango. On the weekend of June 24-25, my wife, Katri, and I took part in the annual Trails 2000 Colorado Trail work weekend for our first time. An account of the weekend follows.

Saturday, 6:45am: We showed up at the Dry Fork Trailhead to quite an operation. Mountain Waters Rafting had arrived with their bus towing Fort Lewis College’s bike club trailer and everyone was getting organized for the weekend. I immediately found my way to the Carvers-supplied breakfast of bagels and cookies, making sure to sample each. With the help of long-time volunteer Dave Peterson, I loaded the group’s bikes on the trailer and off we went.

10 a.m.: We bid farewell to the bus. Trails 2000 mainstay Jody Peterson made sure the group was properly schooled in the art of water drainage at our first work area before we all started off blindly hacking, digging and raking at will. I’m not sure if Jody has a twin, but somehow she finds the time to be at almost every trail maintenance day in the area. She had also scouted our entire route and flagged each trouble section with a brief explanation of the work to be done. School out, we broke up into teams and continued down.

11 a.m.: Fellow volunteers Jerry and Connie begin construction of a rock-anchored water bar. I bring this up as it was one of my personal highlights of the weekend. These two are a comedy team. It goes something like this: Jerry instructs, Connie questions, Jerry disre

gards questions, Connie cusses at the digging and rocks … and Jerry test rides new water bar and officially declares it, “Jerry Approved.” Mary Monroe, Trails 2000 executive director, and I nearly split a gut laughing.

1 p.m.: A well-deserved lunch. Fecal matter under finger nails optional. (Inside joke from the weekend)

2 p.m.: Tree clearing had occurred in advance, but we still come across a freshly fallen pine. I’ve read that disagreements between villagers were settled through competition and feats of strength in medieval times. While I don’t think Jack, a volunteer, and Mary had a spat going, you wouldn’t know by it their “saw to the death” grudge match not unlike those seen on ESPN’s Lumberjack Games. These two were not giving up their end of the pocket saw until one of them collapsed or that tree was cut. The crowd cheered, the sawdust flew and heroes arose … until finally (fortunately) the tree relented.

7 p.m.: At camp, we all sit down for a great dinner provided by Nature’s Oasis and hauled in by Ed Zink, Trails 2000 board member, on horseback. There wasn’t a whole lot of unnecessary chatter during dinner – after a long day of hard work, the group’s mouths were busy downing giant, burrito-like, personal creations. If I had to make a ruling, I’d say Pablo’s burrito won “Gnarliest Creation.” I thought my fellow volunteer might have to stand on it to get it wrapped.

9:30 p.m.: Tent city descends into a concert of snoring.

Sunday, 7 a.m.: Fresh as a daisy, Mary already had a medley of eggs, peppers, tomatoes, Vienn’er Sausages (OK, just another inside joke) and other goodies sizzlin’ on the stove to go with our Carvers bagels. Everyone ate their weight and headed out for another big day of trail work.

2 p.m.: The lion’s share of the work complete, we found a little shade at the Dry Fork/CT trail junction and enjoyed some tasty sandwiches from Carvers that volunteer Don Cook had hauled in by horse. Man, a strawberry soda had never tasted so good. Come to think of it, that may have been my first strawberry soda.

3:30 p.m.: Katri and I just missed everyone leaving once Ed Zink got back with our gear on his horses. We had done some more water drainage work and lost track of time. We did catch Pablo and his dog Otto for one last farewell.

What may have seemed like “giving up a weekend” turned out to be an enjoyable time with a great group of dedicated volunteers. An impressive amount of work was also completed: 85-plus water drainages fixed/built; one burly tree cleared; countless stretches cleared of brush; and copious amounts of trail “shoring.” It occurred to me a few days later that being a part of work on the Colorado Trail was more than just the immediate satisfaction of riding it myself, or even having a passerby thank me for doing the work. The work we had done helps preserve this great trail for future generations. Count me in for next year. •

– Matt McFee