Fresh Tread Fresh Tread <p>NR Youth Crew Leaders…and Jedd</p>

YCL Trails Training

  • June 03, 2014
  • Posted by Steven Gang

I’m sure you have all heard the saying if you don’t like the weather just wait 5 minutes, I have never known it to be more true than this last week when we went on our trails training hitch on the Lakeside to Blacktail trail. From May 6th to May 9th the Northern Rockies’ and the Western Wildlands’ Youth Crew Leaders joined forces to learn and practice digging trail. I learned a lot about the science and terminology of trail building. It was crazy to learn that there was such precision when it came to crafting the perfect trail. This allowed me to better appreciate all of the trails I have been on, as well as understand the hard work and thought that goes into each and every foot of trail.

The first day of hitch was pleasant, partially cloudy weather as we scratched the surface of the trails world, learning the basics on already dug trail. However, seeing the clouds as we went to bed we figured we would be in for some rain our first night out. In the morning I awoke to my vestibule caved in more so then normal and as I peered down to the ground just outside I knew what had happened. Dedicated to providing the full experience, MCC made it snow, thus giving us the privilege of starting new trail while it was snowing! Believe it or not I was pumped to dig trail with a light snow. I cannot speak on whether my fellow leaders shared my excitement but morale seemed high that morning, though that may be attributed to eagerness to start creating trail from scratch.

Day two was our sunny day. Everyone awoke ready to go, still riding the excitement of being out in the woods creating a trail out of nothing. Many finished their first section of trail and bumped up ahead to continue our conveyer belt of trail construction. This day seemed too good to be true; to work on a mountainside in the sun with a cooling breeze at our backs. We also had a couple people working ahead clearing the corridor by either bucking up downed trees or slashing through some live ones to make way for the oncoming trail.

Friday morning we received yet another new day of weather, this was our rain day. Luckily this was the day that we were packing out so we were able to tear down our soggy wet tents, pile them in the rig before making the hike up to the worksite. With the day being shorter the rain did not hamper our spirits. Half the crew was up on the exposed cliff side receiving no cover from the gusty winds and blowing rain/sleet/gropple yet these occasional gusts seemed to just make us work harder as we would whoop and howl knowing we can’t change the weather so we might as well enjoy it.

Even before learning the technical skills of trail work we learned why trails are helpful. I learned that yes, we are making a large impact in the land with each trail though with a properly built and maintained trail this large impact is narrowed to a small corridor through the vast open space of Montana. If not for the trails then there may be small scars all across the land. It is always great to be able to learn with hand-on work being taught by those who have worked multiple seasons and are passionate about sharing their expertise.

Though we made a lot of progress there is still much to do. Luckily I will get to return with a youth crew the first week of our session to continue the trek through the woods to Blacktail.


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