Notes from the Field

The Dirt Diaries Blog

Musings from RMFI staff about all things related to public lands and environmental stewardship.

August 2023 Work Recap

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

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2022 Broken Hand Pass Stewardship

One of our favorite and oldest projects here at RMFI is our South Colony Lakes Project. The South Colony Basin sits in the Sangre de Cristo mountains just outside the town of Westcliffe. South Colony Basin is home to 2 alpine lakes and the trails for 3 fourteeners: Humboldt, Crestone Needle, and Crestone Peak. The trail leading up to Humboldt Peak was one of RMFI’s first projects back in the 90’s and one of our founder, Mark Hesse’s, favorites. RMFI got to continue the legacy in 2021 by working on the South Colony trail leading up to the base of Humboldt.

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The Next Chapter...

After 8 years as Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Field Institute, it is very bittersweet to announce that I have accepted a position with the U.S. Forest Service and will be leaving my position at RMFI effective September 30. Carl Woody, RMFI Program Director, will step into the interim Executive Director role upon my departure and until a new person is found to take my place. 

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TREADucation: A RMFI Learning Series - Rock Carry How To!

Whether we are building rock steps, completing cobbling, constructing switchbacks, or other features, trail building and trail maintenance often requires moving rocks - and LOTS of them!

When moving smaller rocks, we often use canvas bags called coal bags or hand carry rocks. Though often the size needed for cobbling, steps and similar features use rocks that are about the size of a microwave or slightly bigger. To move these rocks, we use 2 rock bars and a specialty rock net called an RCD - Rock Carrying Device (see picture to left).

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Public land agencies remind everyone to recreate responsibly this summer

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – With visitation to Pikes Peak region parks and trails expected to increase over the next several weeks, federal, state, county and city land managers remind visitors to recreate responsibly on public lands. Recreating outdoors is an important way of life for all Coloradans, and public land agencies need everyone’s cooperation to help them sustain enjoyable outdoor experiences and preserve natural areas for future generations.

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‘Queen of the 14ers’: Outdoors lure employee into 33-year career atop 14,000+ foot mountains

Kathryn Sosbe

Office of Communication

April 27, 2022

Loretta McEllhiney surveys flora on San Luis peak in the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forest. As the Colorado Fourteeners Program manager, she is responsible for not only the safety of trails on 47 Colorado mountains higher than 14,000 feet, but she also has grown into an expert about alpine plants. (Photo courtesy Executive Director Lloyd Athearn, Colorado Fourteeners Initiative)

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Waldo Canyon History

Written by Eric Swab. Reposted from the Trails and Open Space Coalition Website


(Eric Swab offers a fascinating account of the man behind of the region’s most beloved canyons. A man who swallowed documents, got into gun-fights, had several near-death experiences, borrowed money 14 times and it would seem attempted to swindle the federal government)

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The Pisgah Paradox

Shared from Patagonia, Author: Kristian Jackson


A series of logs hangs precariously over the edge of a muddy hole, forming a makeshift bridge across what used to be the trail alongside Grogan Creek. I watch my companions tiptoe past, gracefully navigating their bikes through the encroaching rhododendron, before following them across the greasy byway to the safety of solid ground.

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Public Comment: Planning Trails with Wildlife in Mind

In May 2020, Colorado Parks and Wildlife began an effort to overhaul a 1998 document titled, "Planning Trails with Wildlife in Mind." This document was created to support land managers in planning for trails while incorporating strategies to address wildlife impacts. While it has served as an excellent tool for trail planners throughout the state, it had not been updated in 20 years.

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