You can tell it's the end of the day
FOTP 2015 SUMMARY OF THE YEAR
by Carol Beckman
Friends of the Peak had a great
project season thanks to our volunteers and project partners. We had 27
project days. 164 individuals volunteered, many volunteering more than
once, for a total of 365 volunteer days (yes, one for every day of the
2015 continued work on parts of
Barr Trail that are usually difficult to maintain, with support from the
Pikes Peak Cog Railway and Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon (big thank
you to both). The Cog provided support for four project days,
transporting tools and volunteers up to Mountain View and back down.
The projects were logistically interesting, with the tools going up and
coming back down separately from the volunteers. The work train crew
transported the tools, often even on a different day. With the Cog's
support, the volunteers had a much shorter hike to Barr Camp, the 1.5
miles from Mountain View. They were able to improve drainage on Barr
Trail for a mile or so below Barr Camp and a mile or so above. Barr
Camp supported the annual project with AdAmAn, an overnight project this
year, providing their traditional spaghetti and garlic bread dinner
Saturday evening and Pikes Peak Power Pancakes Sunday morning. The
Ascent and Marathon organizers transported volunteers and tools up Longs
Ranch Road to Barr Trail for two projects. Volunteers were able to
start 3 miles up Barr Trail, without walking or carrying tools for those
3 miles, and clear corridor, remove roots and rocks from the trail, and
provide a more walkable and runnable surface for close to 2 miles of
trail above the turn one day, and about 1 1/2 mile of trail below the
turn on another day. Another day, starting from the trailhead,
volunteers removed the hazards in the first 1 1/2 miles of trail. On
yet another project starting from the trailhead, volunteers worked on
the fence along Barr Trail, replanting fence posts that had come out of
the ground or were very wobbly, replacing rotted posts as needed.
The northwest route to the
summit, from the Crags area through Devil's Playground, saw quite a bit
of activity, also. An enthusiastic group of volunteers from Colorado
College backpacked in two miles, carrying tools, to work the next two
days to improve the trail. They created many robust drains to direct
water off the trail to reduce erosion along about a mile of trail. The
work was difficult in spots, requiring moving much dirt, where the trail
is ten feet or so wide. The next day, the group hiked the trail they
had helped improve. Everyone in the group reached the summit. Friends
of the Peak also had a regular Saturday project working on two sections
not far below the summit boulder field. One area had many switchback
cuts. Volunteers clarified the trail and worked to close the switchback
cuts. In another area, the bank above the trail had collapsed on the
trail. The volunteers rebuilt the trail in that section. Also, Friends
of the Peak installed a trail counter, provided by Forest Service, to
help determine how many people are using this increasingly popular route
to the summit. The counter does not distinguish between uphill and
downhill traffic, and of course cannot tell if people go just one way
and get a ride or whether they make it to the summit or turn around
before that. The counter was out from June 4 to October 8, and counted a
total of 13,678 people. As you know if you've hiked this trail, or
were one of the volunteers helping improve it, the trail has some
sections that go up too steeply and are eroding badly, and also braiding
as people walk on the tundra rather than in the loose, rocky gully.
Friends of the Peak is working with the Forest Service's 14er specialist to
address the erosion problems long-term by rerouting the trail to be more
sustainable. The process takes some time. This year, Paul Mead worked
with the 14er specialist to find a workable route. The approval
process could start next year.
We had one project on the Elk
Park Knoll Trail this year. Volunteers widened a narrow section of
trail across a gully, and also improved drainage on the trail near the
Projects on both Elk Park Knoll
Trail and the upper portion of the Devil's Playground Trail are possible
because of the support from Pikes Peak--America's Mountain, perhaps
better known as the people who manage the Pikes Peak Highway. The Pikes
Peak Highway has been a great supporter of Friends of the Peak through
the years, waiving fees for volunteers on projects. Maintaining these
trails with one-day volunteer projects just wouldn't be feasible without
Friends of the Peak had not had
projects on North Slope since building the Crystal connector in 2003.
This year, volunteers helped mitigate erosion problems on three trails
near North Catamount Reservoir, Mackinaw Trail, Mule Deer Trail near
Blue River, and Limber Pine Trail. Volunteers installed drains to move
water off the trails and extended the end of one trail to improve the
slope. They also cleared corridor as needed, trimming back overgrown
Friends of the Peak built the
Raspberry connector for Ring the Peak, on the west side of the Peak, in
2003 and 2004. The trail is generally holding up well, but two
switchbacks near the trailhead were breaking down. Volunteers widened
and leveled the corners and built rock walls to support the
switchbacks. Farther from the trailhead, the volunteers worked on
erosion problems and rebuilt short sections of trail.
Four Thursday projects worked on
Seven Bridges Trail, to stabilize the slope to the scree field, which
just keeps crumbling, and also worked on drainage and erosion issues.
In addition, on two more project days, groups from Colorado College
helped on Seven Bridges Trail.
Four more Thursday projects
worked on Saint Mary's Falls Trail, addressing drainage and erosion.
Friends of the Peak's 20th anniversary project was on Saint Mary's Falls
Trail, working to support the trail where erosion had narrowed the
trail to almost nothing.
With an invitation from Rocky
Mountain Field Institute, Friends of the Peak returned to its roots
during its 20th anniversary year. RMFI has been working for years to
restore damage from extensive sediment runoff from Pikes Peak Highway,
from the years before the Highway was paved and drainage was improved.
RMFI invited Friends of the Peak to join up on a project to collect
native seed from plants in the area and spread them around the deposits
of sediment to help stabilize and restore the area.
Friends of the Peak held a
project removing toadflax, a noxious weed, in Garden of the Gods in
2015. A toadflax removal project was scheduled for Red Rock Canyon Open
Space in 2014, but had to be canceled. The 2015 toadflax removal
project was also originally scheduled for Red Rock, but had to move when
extensive storm damage closed Red Rock open space. The toadflax in Red
Rock is just very tenacious.
Educational efforts continued,
with Friends of the Peak offering Leave No Trace classes and
participating with Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Trails and Open Space
Coalition, Colorado Springs Parks and Rec, and Volunteers for Outdoor
Colorado on Pikes Peak regional crew leader training.
In addition to projects, Friends of the Peak is also involved in trail issues and planning.
Manitou Springs is currently
engaged in producing a master plan for its parks, open space, and
trails. We're offering our comments and ideas. You are also welcome to
participate, with a few more public meetings still scheduled.
Planning for a new summit
complex, including a new summit house, on Pikes Peak is also underway.
Friends of the Peak is participating in the summit advocacy group and is
also providing comments to the managing entities, U.S. Forest Service
and Pikes Peak--America's Mountain, part of Colorado Springs Parks and
The Bear Creek watershed process,
ongoing for years, is almost completed. This year, Colorado Springs
Utilities gave its land in Jones Park to El Paso County. El Paso County
agreed to work with U.S. Forest Service, which is managing the
environmental assessment. The draft decision came out this past
summer. Forest Service responded to all the objections and is
completing the final consultations with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
and with the State Historic Preservation Office. Once that is complete,
they should issue a final decision.
El Paso County completed the
master plan for the Ute Pass Regional Trail. The Ute trail has a gap in
the middle. El Paso County Parks, with a consultant, obtained public
input at several meetings and talked with stakeholders. They devised
possible routes and evaluated them all, and, considering many factors,
decided on the most feasible route. El Paso County Commissioners
approved the route. Implementation now is a matter of funding.
As you can see, Friends of the Peak had a busy year, thanks to all our volunteers and the organizations that support us.