Four whacks now and more to be scheduled as the CATS crews continue up Wells Gulch Trail here in Lory State Park (LSP). We are enjoying the cool weather and location of this wonderful trail. CATS had another rock team work up some special stone pavers (rocks slightly set in above grade) to accommodate the visitor. There are several areas on this trail where the water stays on the trail after heavy rains and is a muddy mess. Pavers allow hikers to step stone-to-stone with getting wet or muddy. This correction will be a great improvement for all the nature classes of students that traverse this trail. I got a first-hand look at the work Dean, Jim, Lynn and Brandon’s paver work and it was top-notch. The rest of the crew went up the trail and worked on more stone steps, drainages, backsloping cupped trail, stacked rock gardens and more. This trail looks fantastic now with a little TLC and refreshed maintenance. Hats off for the crew last week for surviving the small spittle of rain and deciding to work through it; such unwavering determination shows.
RESULTS: 360’ of refreshed trail, Backsloping and tread repair/three stone steps installed/two nicks/five drains cleaned out/four monster paver stones installed/one new drain worked up
o Great crew again
o Little rain – cooled things off
o Wet soil – great to work with
o Dave Kopp was presented his t-shirt
o Beautiful night out there in the park
o Huge boulder went right into place
o “it stopped raining right when I stepped out of my car”
- One member was stabbed with thorns working in the bush
Seems the trails like us too; they cooperate when we hack on them a bit. The trails yield to our whacks in a way that both parties benefit. Similar to a haircut, trails need trimming and the expertise of like a barber. Cutting in new trail is ‘gold’ to a veteran trail builder but most of the time, trail groups are relegated to performing seemingly mundane maintenance. CATS make the best of trail maintenance by creating better fixes or improving a situation on the trail. I have often said that ‘we take a lump of coal and make it into a diamond’. Basically, we take on some difficult repairs and can change them around into something to behold, a treasure. I am continually proud of what our members can do on a regular weekly basis. No other volunteer trail group gets out as much as we do and produces as much trail repairs as CATS. Our sister group in the mountains of Hermit Park – the Larimer County trail crew work every day and their production is outstanding. We are not paid and we only work one night a week, but we are unswerving in finishing an assigned project. We do good work in case nobody has told you lately. Let’s keep the fire going into the fall! We have some good projects to do and we need our members to come out.
Number three – back in Wells Gulch with more work and more members. It was a great evening of fun assignments. Lynn and Jim found a pounding job – breaking away some rock that needed to go to make the trail safer for travel. That job took hours of swinging and some minor injuries to complete. Now there is a good causeway for the youth to pass without slipping or tripping. Others in the crew were up trail working on various projects spread out along the corridor. Backsloping, stone steps, drainages, check steps, CE cutting, and more. We had enough work to keep all busy. Great break on the hillside too. Cameron was on hand again to check us out and work up some stone structures – we appreciate you out there! I think we have one more good whack on the Wells, unless Cameron has some more work up the trail? Next week we are planning on putting in pavers in certain spots of the trail that is underwater. We have some stone work to do and then we are off to Shoreline trail the following Thursday. I hope all CATS members are logged into the State Park volunteer system and recording your hours? All volunteers that put in 48 hours of volunteer work at any park can earn a free pass for a year. You have to record your hours. If you need help with this – contact me email@example.com.
RESULTS: five new drains put in, three check step drains, rock cut-ins, two stone steps
o Andy Sheldon first time out – congrats!
o Jake Soren out again and whacking good
o Cat out on a Thursday night – what is up with that?
o Quote of the night: “It’s all good!”
o Break area nice and snacks good
o Review of all the work was excellent quality
o Big crew
o Cam out there again
o LSP PRT liked the rock passageway
o Big party at Pitchers
- Jim got a smashed finger and rock splinter in leg - ouch
Nobody can argue that this trail is a wonderful place to be especially in the evenings. CATS can attest to that statement as we continue to make improvements on this trail. We have one more whack this week to improve the trail in certain areas. Our progress is hampered sometimes because we stay on a project till it is right. For example, the drainages that need cleaning out or the cutting back the inside edge sloughing, even corridor trimming. All these minor chores do take time and resolve. We do it right and when it is not right – we fix our mistakes and learn from it.
Next week we will go to Shoreline Trail. if you come on time – meet us at the tool shed in Soldiers Canyon, otherwise drive up to the lower Arthur's Rock parking area and hike east on the Shoreline trail to find the crew. We are doing our annual visit to one of our first long-term trail repairs back in 2013-2015. CATS made a lot of improvements and repairs on this trail and each year we make a sojourn to the path to perform maintenance – sometimes major. It is about a mile long and ends at the Horsetooth Reservoir. We plan on celebrating down there at the water’s edge. So leave some room in your packs to shuttle some supplies down. Connie will coordinate this event and could use some help. Plan on a fun evening!
On the trail,
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CATS officially helped open the new trail system that they worked on for over 2.5 years. The Hidden Hogback Trail and Mariana Butte Trail are finished and ready for use – foot traffic. Many thanks to City of Loveland for all their support and arrangements for this grand opening! Marilyn Hilgenberg was very instrumental in coordinating our entire production here in the Loveland area and we thank her very much. Some of us were elsewhere today – up at Hermit Park working trail and now we dashed back to enjoy this celebration.
CATS had a good turnout for the ribbon cutting ceremony and thank you for attending. There were a few speeches from COL officials, our President – Brandon, and Trails Director – Bob. Then the fun began, some folks hiked all the way back to the Wapiti for our evening celebration and toasts! Some CATS members gave guided tours of the trail build. Well done! Thanks go to Connie for setting up a nice Public Relations table for CATS!
Members: Bob, Connie, Jim, Dean, Lynn, Miya, Leigh, Scott, Ritchie, Adam, Denny, Dave Kopp, Mike, Jerry Hours: 2
As if we could not get enough of the park, we were back again for a day trek to our same section of trail. We had a good crew put together and worked up the end of our weekend section. Dean started in on another mono-wall, Bob found one also. Others worked the trail in various areas to get past this corner. Lunch was nice among the rocks and afterwards Lynn and Jim found a large rock to move down against the trail to hold fill on slick rock. This was definitely the largest rock CATS has ever moved! It took five rock bars to persuade the stone into place after much pushing and pulling. Nice work!
All our work looked nice by 4 pm and we were tired. Some of us went into Estes Park for an ice cream cone and a drink. We had to hurry along as there was a celebration to attend later at 6 pm at Mariana Butte.
Members: Bob, Dean, Brandon, Lynn, Jim, Nick Davis Hours: 8
RESULTS: 200 of new trail, 1 – 5’ mono-wall, 1 – 17.5’ mono-wall, 1 – 45’ climbing turn, moving one extra- large Mayan rock at 14’ long x 5’ wide
o Lots of trail work done in short order
o Met a bunch of great crews up there – LC and LCCC folks
o Borrowed tools – thanks
o Good time with barrow scraps vice pits
o CATS moved its biggest rock ever
o No injuries
o Nice to have Nick Davis up from Boulder in our group
o Ice cream social in Estes Park
On a quick note here that we are doing so much lately at two places – Hermit Park and Mariana Butte and coping with the fun of travel.
Besides that we are getting some local recognition with awards, newspaper articles and later this ribbon cutting ceremony in Loveland for a trail system that CATS fully constructed. We are on the go. Some of you need to come out and go with us. There is no such thing as an ‘armchair trail builder’. Come out and get dirty.
Hollow Campground at Hermit Park, CATS planted their flag on Friday and set up camp. This was our first camping trek for the season and we entered into an agreement with Larimer County (LC) to work trail for two days. Our campsite was free to us and a good thing they were reserved as this campground was at capacity! Nick Wamsley graciously agreed to haul up some CATS camping equipment in his personal truck. After arriving and getting through the check-in process, we met up with Joel Schwab and walked to the worksite all the while reviewing his teams work. Our assignment seemed so small compared to the immense work this trail crew has done all this year. The LC trail crews are truly ‘rock gods’. The size and movements of some of their stones is unbelievable. It is hard to comprehend some completed mono-walls up there.
Back in camp, the walk overview kind of set the mood for the weekend and we consumed a late night dinner on the grill. I knew we were in trouble as the next day Dean and others set about moving BAR’s into place for CATS mono-walls. We can move ‘big stones’ too! Such great competitive morale with CATS and thanks LC trail crews for setting the bar.
The weather was hot and sunny and naturally dusty. The mountain soil is so non- binding with the decomposing granite (DG). Moving BARs was fatiguing work and by late afternoon on Saturday, you could see the effects on the crew. Some folks ran low on water. We sent Connie and Miya back to camp early to start dinner. That was a good move I am told and thank you ladies.
Dean had some foot issues as well as Nick. Bless them – they still plowed on with the arduous trail build in pain. Lynn and Miya found and joined us Saturday afternoon and we were glad to see them. Alas, the return to camp and a good dinner was prepared! So much good eats! The three small CATS crews relaxed for a spell and some members had to depart after dinner. The rest of us settled in for a place by the fire. As usual, we talked about the day’s accomplishments and what we are doing for tomorrow.
Sunday: Great pancake breakfast, fruits, bacon, coffee, and more. We almost stayed in camp for a nap afterwards. Duty calls and the dreadful collapsing of camp; a necessary burden met with frowning morning zombies. Amazingly, food was consumed, lunches made, camp struck, vehicles packed and on trail by 0900. Another great day in the mountains working on a trail destined to be famous in time. We had a smaller crew today and some sore puppies out there but managed to build some great mono-walls and beautiful basic trail. I think by 3 pm all were ready to hit the road. Back at the camp parking lot we celebrated with an ice cold drink and laid back in the shade a while to soak in the day, the accomplishments of teamwork and nature itself.
Sunday: Bob, Connie, Dean, Lynn, Miya, Nick Hours: 6
RESULTS: Saturday: 195’ New trail, 1 – 15’ MW, 1- 20’ MW, 1- 20’ rubble wall, 2 nicks, 5 tree stumps removed, tree trimming, slash removal downhill
Sunday: 35’ New trail, 2 - 12’ MW,
o No injuries
o Two gigantic BARS moved into place on CE
o CATS can move big rocks too!
o Eight person crew
o Scott built first rubble wall structure
o Miya and Lynn found us - no problems
o Great rock work day
o Fabulous food and cooks at dinner
o Nick did not cut off broken toe
o T-shirts from LC – nice!
- Broke a pick mattock handle – dry rotted
‘GO OUTING – STOP POUTING!’ Clever saying for others, but does not apply to CATS. CATS enjoys the evening whacks and 4-5 hours of local trail build/repair but if you get the opportunity – go camping with CATS. There is so much more to learn and share. Aside from the outdoor camping, CATS members get to bond together in a long outdoor work event. We just don’t work in silence, we chat. CATS usually offer more than two weekend camping adventures per year. Hermit Park has been providing us with a different training platform for constructing trail. The mountainous environment provides lots of rock work in a large scale and dimension. We work amongst trees which is not often the case here on the Front Range. Our crews work at altitude which can be challenging for some and beneficial for others as the air is thin and crisp. Nights are cool, camp fires are warm, and the beer is cold. Campfire talk is usually fun and something is always going on in camp. We don’t talk about the Miya ‘O’ rings mishap – all are good and the mountains revive us and give us enduring memories of our efforts to tame the wilds. Come out and experience the pleasure of CATS camping and trail work.
Again, the CATS team was called back to LSP to work on maintenance for their very well respected and used nature trail. We had our sights on this collapsed retaining wall from long ago that needed to be essentially re-built. With that notion, Dean, Scott, and Lynn got on to it right away and started to dismantle the old one and dig in a new firm tray. Cameron Landis came on to the scene and dove in with the rock shopping and construction. This was a great time to use climbing ropes, use knots, and bring out our new grip hoist and straps. Most of the good solid rocks were on the downhill side which gave us an opportunity to work up the straps and ropes. Connie, Scott, Leigh, and I worked the trail width and cleaned up drainages and wooden steps. The evening was going great and as time was running out, we were losing strength as three of us pulled on a stone from the bottom of the hill up towards the trail. Three young men happened along the trail and watched from a distance, then stepped forward and offered assistance. WHEW, at the count of three six of us pulled on the stone and it went a flying up the slope and landed on the trail, as we all fell back. With a debt of gratitude and high fives, we thanked our lads as they traveled on the trail. What the heck happened? Guess we are getting old or something? We pushed the window on this build and checked out late – 830 pm and retreated to our old watering hole. Cam came out and we celebrated yet another trail tail as we drank and consumed vittles.
o Cameron came out and really got into it like a tornado
o BARs from all over – difficult retrieval
o Cool weather
o Not in sun
o Love the trail
o Got the retaining wall done and safe to walk
o Good rehab by other crew members
o Three lads saved the night
o Six guests came by and offered compliments
o LSP pleased with work
- Short on putting finishing touches on the downslope of retaining wall – no worries though – LSP trail crew will get on it tomorrow – so says Cameron
- Bob smashed his finger again
Lory never seems to let us down or Cameron that is. We show up and there is work for us every time. The Wells Gulch Trail is simply one of the most used trails in the park and Ft. Collins area. Children are led by naturalists on tours, senior hike groups hike through there, runners ply their way on, solo hikers seek solace, others just walk the trail for a destination achievement; whatever their goals, the trail is truly different and peaceful. All trails need maintenance and this one more so than others; it gets a lot of use. CATS like the challenges of fixing things. We cannot be spoiled with building brand new trail all the time. Most times, we are charged with repairing damages from Mother Nature or incorrectly designed routes or structures. Mending Trails – part of our motto. Something to think about in between trail whacks and sips of beer!
CATS on the wall Several CATS members (Lynn, Nick, Brandon, Dean) worked with folks from WRV and others at Young Gulch for two days to construct a new (for us) kind of trail structure called a "switchberm". This involved building a large multi-level rockwall and hauling in massive amount of fill to raise the trail 4-5 feet above ground level.