Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Trailbuilding’

A great crew! Sasha the dog, Chris, Steve, Francisco, Al, Rob, David, Tom, Joe, Lee, Max, and Shawn

A great crew! Sasha the dog, Kris, Steve, Francisco, Al, Rob, David, Tom, Joe, Lee, Max, and Shawn

I have been building and maintaining the Arizona Trail with the Arizona Trail Association since 2007. I love being a part of creating and maintaining the trail for generations to come. Several months ago, I became a trail steward for segment 16c and am in charge of maintaining 5.1 miles from Spine Canyon to Walnut Canyon in the Gila River Canyons passage. I chose this passage to adopt for a couple of reasons:

  • I have seen this area covered in wildflowers in the spring and it is amazing, there are also fall colors along the Gila River.
  • I have great memories of my Night on The Spine and the hike I did on Passage 16 & 17 the first three days of the year.
  • I wanted a remote segment that would require overnight trail events.
  • To drive in, you go past the Artesian Well on the old Arizona Trail route, one of my favorite water sources.
  • It is also a part of the Grand Enchantment Trail from Phoenix to Albuquerque- bonus stewardship!

I had my first work event on December 7th & 8th to put in a gate in Walnut Canyon and an OHV barrier about a mile east. Ten of us assembled at Battle Axe Road and AZ 177 and prepared a precarious load on the Bureau of Land Managment (BLM) truck.

We met at Battle Axe Road and loaded up the BLM truck with the gate and the ATV barrier.

We met at Battle Axe Road and loaded up the BLM truck with the gate and the ATV barrier.

The drive out to the site was slow, bumpy and very scenic. We took another road that led down toward the Gila River and arrived in Walnut Canyon just north of the river around lunchtime.

Driving Battle Axe Road with the White Canyon Wilderness in the background

Driving Battle Axe Road with the White Canyon Wilderness in the background

Adjusting the rigging after a couple of miles of the rough road

Adjusting the rigging after a couple of miles of the rough road

We dropped a crew to begin the gate and drove a mile east to the OHV barrier site.  The barrier was an interesting modular design that required no welding in the field. Just a lot of postholes and concrete. Thankfully the BLM provided a power auger and jackhammer. We ran into some caliche that would have taken forever to dig with just a rock bar.

Pieces of the ATV barrier, concrete, and plenty of tools. Rob (in red) is the one who designed and welded the pieces to be assembled in the field.

Pieces of the OHV barrier, concrete, and plenty of tools. Rob (in red) is the one who designed and welded the pieces to be assembled in the field.

Power auger for the holes

Power auger for the holes

Max works the power jackhammer

Max works the jackhammer

Holes are dug and the big barrier piece is in

Holes are dug and the big barrier piece is in

Mixing concrete

Joe and Tom mixing concrete

It had taken a long time to get out to the site, so we worked until the last light getting the gate and barrier set in concrete so that it could cure overnight. The unseasonably mild evening was spent by the fire swapping stories and listening to music courtesy of Max and his guitar.

Continuing to work until the last light is gone

Continuing to work until the last light is gone

Looking north  toward The Spine at sunset

Looking north toward The Spine at sunset

The next day, we finished up the gate and OHV barriers and then constructed a small reroute that helped avoid an unnecessary roadwalk up the canyon and back. We brushed the route back and then built three-foot cairns to lead the way.

Building the reroute

Building the reroute

Chris shows the test of a well-built cairn

Kris shows the test of a well-built cairn

"Laddie-sized" cairns three feet high

“Laddie-sized” cairns three feet high lead the way

Short reroute with new cairns and carsonites

Short reroute with new cairns and carsonites

Here’s the finished gate and OHV barrier:

Finished ATV barrier in the unnamed canyon one mile east of Walnut Canyon

Finished OHV barrier in the unnamed canyon one mile east of Walnut Canyon

Joe, Tom, Chris, Max, Steve, David, Sirena, Shawn, and Lee at the fancy new gate

Joe, Tom, Kris, Max, Steve, David, Sirena, Shawn, and Lee at the fancy new gate

New gate in Walnut Canyon

New gate in Walnut Canyon

I was glad that my work event was a success, most of my crew were from the Crazies and their expertise certainly helped. A big thanks to the BLM and the crew!  Before we could relax, we had the long, slow, bumpy drive back out to AZ 177. This has always been one of my favorite parts of the Arizona Trail and I am excited to be a steward for many years to come. There’s always trailwork to be done, so if you’re interested in volunteering on an event, check out the Arizona Trail Association event calendar.

In Wildlife Rehab news, I have been taking quite a few birds out to test their flight capabilities to see if they are ready for release. It is exhilarating and more than a little scary taking the larger birds. I got a talon to the finger through my gloves this summer and it was extremely painful. I have taken Great Horned Owls, Red Tailed Hawks, Peregrine Falcons, and the other day I took a Turkey Vulture out to see what it could do. Click the button below to donate to Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

For the last two and a half years, every other Thursday I build and maintain the Arizona Trail with the Crazies. Our group used to be called the Summer Crazies, because we are the only Southern Arizona trail crew that works in the summer, no matter how hot it gets. Now, we are just known as the Crazies, because we work year-round building and maintaining the Arizona Trail, no matter what the weather.

Crazies building trail and gates in Las Colinas

One of the best parts of working with the Crazies is that their average age is 65 years old. We have one guy, Larry Schnebly (if you know AZ, yes, he is Sedona Schnebly’s grandson) who celebrated his 80th birthday working with the Crazies. As you can imagine, these guys have some stories to tell, and I love listening to them. Larry once told me about his transition from working in radio to working in  the “new medium” of television in Tucson in the 50’s. Fascinating stuff!

The Craziest Crazie (our leader, Lee Allen), is in his 60’s and thinks nothing of doing a dayhike up into the Rincons with over 4000′ elevation gain or an 18-mile dayhike:

Lee Allen heading for Rincon Creek

One of the other Crazies is Laddie Cox, leader of the Hit-and-Run Crew for the AZT. He was the second-oldest man to complete the 800-mile Arizona Trail, at over 70 years old! I tell you, these guys are inspiring and a testament to the benefits of staying active. You can see me, Laddie, Larry, and the other Crazies in this video from August done by Richard “Grodzo” Grodzicki in true Summer Crazies form at http://www.aztrail.org/reports/event_reports.html#090408

This week, we had a very exciting work event, our first in building a very important connector trail in Saguaro National Park. The hike in and out to the worksite was an adventure in itself. First, we met at Saguaro NP, and piled into 4wd vehicles for the ride to the access point, a rough 4wd off of X-9 Ranch Rd. We shimmied under our first fence, and soon heard Rincon Creek running with all the recent rains. Everyone took their shoes off to ford the chilly creek and the smarter ones brought sandals to avoid the sharp rocks in the streambed.

Fording Rincon Creek

I had some trashbags with me, but didn’t want to work with wet feet all day if they failed, so I took my shoes off for the crossing. Luckily, Lee had reminded everyone to bring something to wipe their feet with after the crossing, which led to this scene:

After the ford

The access to this area is longer than most, we had a 2 1/2 mile hike just to get to the worksite. We walked along an old roadbed towards Hope Camp. As we approached Hope Camp, we saw an Antelope Jackrabbit that was completely calm about 12 people traipsing by. He stayed in plain sight, even rearing up on his hind legs to eat something:

Antelope Jackrabbit

Jackrabbit rearing up on hind legs to eat

Hope Camp

We had to crawl under and over a couple of fences, but soon we were on a very well-flagged route through the desert toward our destination. We bypassed the easy-to-build parts so that an REI crew can come in and work this area on April 3rd. Finally, we reached the start of the trail that the NPS has been building and we were able to work the trail heading back to the south.

New trail appears- photo by Walt Tannert

The National Park Service has been building this connector trail for several weeks now, and I hiked up to see the new trail with my friend Mike Pratt, recently back from working in Afghanistan helping to train the police forces there. The new trail is through beautiful saguaro forests, and after it crosses a beautiful slickrock wash, has very well-built steps that help attain the ridgeline. We stopped to chat with the trail workers, one who was building a “spiral staircase” on the turn of a switchback. The Rincons were still enveloped in clouds, but he said if you looked upcanyon from the spiral staircase there was a really great waterfall in the distance.

Pools in the creek crossing on the brand new trail

Fancy steps put in by the SNP crew

The "Spiral Staircase"

On our way back we saw this unusual saguaro- it looked like a crested saguaro, but the crest was on one of the undersides of the arms instead of at the top.

Crest on a saguaro arm

The trailbuilding was made a lot easier by the dampness of the soil- much easier to dig out the trees and cacti in our trail. We built about 2/10 of a mile of trail today in about 3 hours of work-it may not sound like much, but we will be out there every other Thursday, and the tenths of a mile start to add up pretty quickly.

At noon, we started our hike back toward the vehicles- it’s amazing how much quicker the hike back is than the hike out. Along this stretch of the trail near Hope Camp, there are a lot of purple Santa Rita Prickly Pear cactus, even though we are in the Rincons, not the Santa Ritas!

Hiking back

And then it was back to Rincon Creek for one last ford- I gave my trashbags a try, they got me through with dry feet but definitely don’t work as well in rocky streams. After we forded the creek, it was a short walk back to the vehicles for the customary cookies and soda after working the trail.

Fording Rincon Creek

I can’t wait to go back to this area on the 25th- the clouds only began to clear toward the end of our workday- I bet this area will be even more fantastic with the snow-capped Rincons as a backdrop. If anyone is interested in joining the Crazies for trailbuilding, they can contact Lee Allen at janlee at dakotacom dot net.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: