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Service to ourselves
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Simon Harding
(SimonHarding) - F
Service to ourselves on 07/19/2007 08:48:52 MDT Print View

I'm curious how many folks here do work in service to the trail systems and other outdoors "infrastructure" for lack of a better word, we all use. I spend a day or so a month doing trail maintenance and a few days a year caring for a historic fire lookout. My brother spends all his time (early retirement!) doing volunteer trail work in the Mount Hood NF. See: Trailadvocate.

It has long been my observation that while many of us talk about it, when it comes down to it few actually put their time and labor where their mouths are.

I walked a trail last weekend that I knew a week or two previously had been traversed by a gaggle of Mazamas (30 or so) and there was small blowdown (as well as big) all over the trail that they could easily have removed rather than simply stepping over. To me, this is similar to (but certainly not as bad) as failing to pickup the beer cans and other trash we all see left near trailheads and sometimes in the deeper woods. So why not move the small blowdown? Clean out the water bar? Move the large rock that rolled onto the trail?

Given trail maintenance budgets (one district I know of went from 4 persons on trails to .5 person), if we do not get more active in this field, more trails will be lost, becoming impassable due to blowdown and washouts.


Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Service to ourselves on 07/19/2007 09:21:44 MDT Print View

I give money to WTA here in Washington, who in turn use that money to maintain a number of the trails. I don't do trail maintenance on my own besides moving branches off the trail-I don't have a clue of what to do, so I am not going to make it worse!

Simon Harding
(SimonHarding) - F
Service on 07/19/2007 09:54:03 MDT Print View

Sarah: From what I've read of your posts here, you have seen enough trail to know what is right! But in any event, moving branches is a step int eh right direction.

I am sure you have seen water bars. They should be clean, and the downslope end free of obstruction in order that water is routed off trail instead of down teh tread: water in the tread causes terrible erosion problems.

Many trees downed over the trail fall due to rot and can be easily moved. Just give it a kick to see if you might be inclined to trifle with it or if it appears too heavy for you.

Another thing we can all do, is clutter up the switchback shortcuts seen (usually closer to trailheads) with rock and branches, logs, etc.

Oregon hasn't any equivalent to the WTA. You are commended for giving $.


Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Service to ourselves on 07/19/2007 10:18:47 MDT Print View

I've done some volunteer trail maintenance with the Ozark Trail Assoc. We go out and either clean up existing trail or do re-routes or construct brand new trail. Its a lot of fun and really rewarding to be hiking and come to a section of trail that is "yours."
I can't tell you how much fun I've had working on the OT. I've met a bunch of great, really friendly people there. A few of the members aren't even hikers, they just like the experience of coming out and working on the trail with their friends.
I also try to leave any trail I hike on a little better than when I came to it. I try to move obstacles out of the way (within reason) and pick up most of the trash I see. I figure the little extra weight I carry makes a bigger difference to the environment than it will on my back.


Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Service on 07/19/2007 11:48:35 MDT Print View

Ok, your right..I do push trees over the edge if I can (especially in alpine).
My husband did trail patrol on the AT when he lived on the East Coast, so when he comes along he stops all the time doing stuff. He was the one who taught me how to move branches off the trail with trekking poles ;-)

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Service/trail maintenance on 07/19/2007 12:43:22 MDT Print View

I've helped build and maintain many miles of the Cumberland Trail in Eastern Tennessee since May 2000. I've seen the trail grow from about 120 miles them to over 200 now and hope to be there when the full 300-mile corridor is complete. If it weren't for volunteer work the CT wouldn't exist. There have have two seasonal professional trail-builders and money for an AmeriCorps crew 8 weeks a year, but 90+% of workhours are from volunteers, either locals or college students who build trail for their Spring Break.

Closer to home here in Nashville, I've helped with REI's trail service groups maintaining trail at Radnor Lake State Park.

jim bailey
(florigen) - F - M

Locale: South East
trail work on 07/19/2007 12:50:30 MDT Print View

Great thread, Good job folks!
Usually pack in a pruning saw and clear small blown down tree's early in season before trail crews can get to them.

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Service to ourselves on 07/19/2007 12:52:47 MDT Print View


I am the trail adopter for a little part of the Colorado Trail.

Worked on a number of Eagle projects over the years.

Make annual contributions to the Colorado Trail Foundation.

I always leave the trail better than I found it.

Kathleen B

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: trail work on 07/19/2007 13:20:15 MDT Print View

I'm a crew leader on the Iron Goat Trail near Stevens Pass, Washington, and I volunteer on the occasional WTA work party. My favorite was spending 8 days in the Enchantments. I've gotten grouchy in my old age and refuse to work on a trail that horses are allowed on. Too often I've seen a lot of hard work get trompled to mush in just a few minutes.

Simon Harding
(SimonHarding) - F
trails on 07/19/2007 18:34:49 MDT Print View

Quads are a problem here. They really tear up trails. They also allow a certain type of person to haul in lots of stuff, a lot of which they leave bhind. It takes a lot of work to haul their trash out (bottles, broken camp chairs, etc.) Mtn bikes and motorcycles present their own issues but the quads are the worst from a trail maintenance standpoint. Hopefully, they will be banned from the National Forests soon. Most foks on them could and should walk to their destination or at minimum, stay on roads. When sawing out blowdown we strategically place bottlenecks (narrow cutouts in preexisting blowdown) where the terrain or large blowdown will discourage them from rerouting off trail.

Mike Richards
(mikeman) - F

Locale: USA
Re: Service to ourselves on 07/22/2007 21:35:40 MDT Print View

Great thread! I like to think that most trail users show pride in their local trails by maintaining them, but unfortunately I've also noticed what Simon pointed out: "few actually put their time and labor where their mouths are."

My biggest pet peeve is short-cutting a switchback. Do people really go on hikes just to hurry and finish hiking the trail by taking a shortcut? Are people not aware of how damaging shortcuts are? I've sometimes had create obstructions up to 30 feet long to and from the turning point to prevent shortcuts within a switchback.

It's really nice and uplifting to read about people who care about the trails and help with maintenance in their own way!

Colleen Clemens
(tarbubble) - F

Locale: dirtville, CA
Re: Service to ourselves on 07/28/2007 11:03:05 MDT Print View

i'm waiting for my boys to get a little older before i can commit time to any volunteer action. i do what i can on the trails i hike - last weekend i dragged & piled a few branches to block off a "shortcut" trail up on Mt. San Jacinto. i've also made rock lines to help more clearly define trails when they seemed to get faint. but i have never deliberately gone out to do maintenance, again mainly because i'm in the trenches of childrearing and the trail crews might not appreciate me bringing a very disobedient 2-year-old along. ;) my 5-year-old, however, is a very good candidate for small tasks like gathering rocks or carrying away branches. we'll get out there soon, but first i have to get babysitting for his little brother...