Tuesday, July 28, 2015

1999 AHS Volunteer Trail Project in Utah

Our American Hiking Society crew drove high up into the Manti-LaSal National Forest to Pete's Hole Reservoir at 8800 feet elevation. We then backpacked our gear about a mile to our camp area, which had also been used the previous week for another bridge building project on the same trail. Here's a sneak preview of the scenery that enthralled us all week!

The Josephine Point Trail follows a bench for 6.5 miles with little elevation change, making it a favorite for hikers and mountain bikers. In the photo below you get a feel for the majestic high-country scenery we enjoyed all week as we hiked the mile and a half to our work site each day. On our free day, we hiked the rest of the trail.

Below is the creek we had to build a bridge over. The steep upslope on the far side complicated the procedure. Except for the base pieces on each side (10" X 10" X 8'), the 6 six-foot long handrail support posts, and the 20 planks used for decking (4" X 4" X 6'), all the wood is taken from spruce trees growing within a hundred yards or so of this site. These pieces have to be stripped of bark and carried to the site. The lumber is brought most of the way to the site on an AWD vehicle, but had to be carried by us by hand the final half mile or so. We are working at a 9000 foot elevation level and all of us are from lowlands (Texas, New York, Minnesota, and Illinois) so we needed to rest occasionally until we got better acclimated to the altitude.

The 3 long white logs (already stripped of bark) are 22 feet long and are known as "stringers" which serve as the support for the bridge. Getting these pieces by hand several hundred feet down to and across the creek proved to be the most strenuous task. The base pieces have been buried at each end and the stringers are bolted to them. The middle support beam helps hold the stringers together and will support the center posts to which the handrails will be attached.

Here's the view of the project from the higher side of the creek. The first piece of decking is being installed.

Alan, Steve, and Chuck attach the upper railing to complete the bridge. All work was completed without power tools (other than cutting down the trees.) Everyone took turns on the various jobs, pitching in where needed, and when there were no obvious tasks to engage in, we looked for something to do (such as "landscaping" the area around the bridge to make it appear natural again, installing two water bars on the slope above the bridge to divert rainwater,  and removing the accumulated wood debris beneath the bridge.) What a work ethic displayed by everyone on the crew!

The finished product! We added 2 waterbars on the slope to the left to send rain water downstream of the bridge and also removed the plethora of wood which had accumulated in the creek beneath and upstream of the bridge.

Here's the fabulous crew -- extremely hard-working when on the work site or doing chores around camp, yet personable, compassionate, funny, willing to share ideas and stories, and just a whole bunch of fun to be with around the campfire.

Seated: Gail and Andrzej;  left to right standing: Ania, Chuck, Alan, Steve, and Judy.

This photo was taken by Bill Broadbear, the ranger in charge of the project, and in the background is Pete's Hole Reservoir where the gravel road ends.

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