Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pinch me. It's finally becoming real.

What an amazing few days for the Secret-Lamoille Trail Project.

Last week, we got word from both the Nevada Division of Forestry and the Ruby Mountain Hot Shots that they'd be interested in volunteering for the project, using it to shake out their fire crews before the start of the summer fire season.

Man, what an offer. That's a lot of manpower right off the bat, AND it's a great opportunity for them to get some important pre-work training done for their crews. A real win-win.

That meant that we had to move into overdrive to get ready for their arrival. On Thursday and Friday, trail designer Greg Mazu set pinflags for much of the project, marking exactly where the tread would go. Mark Kimbrough from GBI, our new GBI trail boss, was on hand to get his arms around the thing, scoping the route and working with Greg on the final alignment. By Saturday, Greg was up above the snow line, so he marked trees for the fire crews and worked on the final alignment for the Talbot end of the project.

Lots of work, lots of walking, lots of thinking going into a great route.

On Sunday, I went out with biologist Kendra Olcott from JBR Environmental Consultants, along with her husband Jay, to look for migratory birds before the saws arrived. It's a late spring and we didn't see anything, but it was important to check and make sure we weren't destroying any nests while we went through. Kendra and Jay jumped in at the last minute... Rich Weber from JBR had been scheduled for this walk-through, but got stuck in an airport on the other side of the country. Thanks, guys, for being so incredibly cool and helping us out!

And then, it was Monday - and all of a sudden, we had something on the ground.

After seven years of work, the trail is finally under way!

The NDF crews did one hell of a job for us, clearing out brush, scraping a line, limbing and sometimes removing trees to make the clearance necessary for the folks who will use the trail. The trail needs 6' of horizontal clearance and 10' of vertical clearance so that horsemen and pack animals can safely get through. These guys moved steady, moved strong, moved with a smile on their faces. And more than one of them told me they'd like to come back and bring their kids to see the trail they helped build after their stint with NDF.

In the meantime, the Ruby Mountain Hot Shots went blazing by - man, those guys are amazing. They hustled a couple miles in and started working backwards, meeting up with the NDF crews as they worked their way up. Great cooperation and good practice for the fire season. They probably all went back to base when they were done and did a push-up contest or something, followed by an even 500 sit-ups or so. Just to make sure they got a good workout for the day.

With all of this hustle and bustle from the area's wildland fire crews, it was quite the whirlwind day. And yet... when everybody passed on by and the quiet came back, it was there.

The birdsong. And the genesis of a trail.

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