August 2023 Work Recap

August 2023 Work Recap

September 6, 2023 by Calla Balliett

August was a busy month at RMFI as we wrapped up 2 backcountry projects for the 2023 Season and started a brand new project at Pancake Rocks!

Sangre De Cristos - Broken Hand Pass Trail

RMFI spent 42 days working on the Broken Hand Pass Trail in the 2023 Season, defining the trail through this talus field alpine approach trail just above South Colony Lakes. The Broken Hand Pass Trail serves as the primary approach to 3 popular 14er peaks: Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle, and Humbolt Peak. The project requires a tremendous amount of rock structure construction, which is all moved and placed by hand. The RMFI crew moved a total of 25,242 pounds of rock to complete this season's work! Enduring a buggy summer this year, this crew did a fabulous job! We also would like to extend a thank you to volunteers from CORE and Colorado 4x4 Rescue and Recovery, who help us take our gear and staff up a high-clearance 4x4 road to reach the South Colony Lakes area. They have been integral to this project and we can't thank them enough!

Devils Playground

RMFI is steadily working our way up the peak, and this season the new trail construction topped out at over 11,300 feet in elevation. The RMFI Crews, combined with 26 days with a Mile High Youth Corps crew, spent 74 days this summer working on the new reroute of Devils Playground. This season the staff completed 46 timber steps, 31 rock steps, rock and timber retaining walls, moved 42.6 cubic yards of soil, and moved 17,280 pounds of rock! RMFI has had to adjust our operations as the trail grows farther and farther up the peak. This season we moved our basecamp from the Crags Campground to a backcountry campsite closer to our work area. The higher campsite (roughly 11,500 ft) required a grueling pack-in to get our camping gear, tools and other equipment to our basecamp. Thankfully, we weren't alone. Many amazing volunteers helped us transport our gear up the trail, and many folks lent a hand helping build the new trail. Thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers! RMFI, MHYC, and our crews of volunteers toughed out a wet and soggy season and completed some fabulous work.

Barr Trail

RMFI partnered with MHYC again this year to complete some much needed deferred maintenance on Barr Trail. So far this year we have completed 36 days of work on the trail, with more work days scheduled in September! Early in the Spring, we worked on the lower 3 miles of Barr Trail below the Incline return trail. This summer the RMFI and MHYC Crew is working above the Incline return installing timber check steps. These check steps mitigate in-trail erosion while also bringing the trail back to a sustainable grade.

Pancake Rocks

RMFI is super excited to be working on one of the most popular trails in our region, the Pancake Rocks Trail. We are currently working to reroute sections of trail that have become severely damaged. The unsustainable grades of the existing trail are leading to increased erosion and sedimentation and impacting the surrounding natural resources. The new reroutes were designed by the US Forest Service, with support from RMFI program staff, and will provide a more sustainable and enjoyable experience. The RMFI crew and many volunteers have already rerouted .25 miles of trail in only a few short days! We will continue to work at Pancake Rock through mid-September, and there are plenty of volunteer opportunities to join us this month!

Earth Corps

RMFI hosted the 22nd year of our signature Field Studies course, Earth Corps! This 18-day field studies course provides motivated, environmentally conscious undergraduate students the opportunity to live and learn in the incredible natural classroom of the Colorado mountains. This year students summited Pikes Peak, learned about Alpine Ecology from Colorado's USFS Fourteeners Manager, worked on the Devils Playground reroute, learned about the geological history of Pikes Peak, and more! Do you know a college student who would be interested? The 2024 application period will open in December. Apply early to secure a spot in this one-of-a-kind college credit field studies program!

Barr Trail Check Steps
Volunteers at Pancake Rocks
Broken Hand Pass
Pancake Rocks Pack In