Monday, August 1, 2016

The 2016 State Wide Work Party (SWWP): Working the Trails

Can you find the trail?
Projects on eight trails in the Twisp River drainage were undertaken during the SWWP. These had mostly been selected on the basis of scouting and preliminary work carried out by MVBCH members in May and June, especially by the certified sawyers mentioned in last month’s newsletter "Horse Tales". These selections were firmed up during several visits by Jason Ridlon in June, and efforts were made to clear the way to the work sites so that the time taken to reach them was reduced as much as possible. (Part of this had been done earlier when MVBCH members cleared trails to the wilderness boundary using chain saws in order to facilitate the passage of Washington State Trails (WTA) crews to the wilderness for their clearing work in mid-June using cross cuts and hand saws.) 

With the exception of the Twisp River Trail #440, the trails worked on were predominately in the wilderness where chainsaws and other mechanized tools could not be used.
Conditions on all these trails hindered their use especially by stock and many were completely blocked, even to hikers. 

Trail Work Undertaken

Stock Stoppers!
Logging out  Taking out all trees that have fallen on the trail. Use of cross cut saws (and chain saws in non-wilderness areas) is classified as ‘skilled’ for recording of volunteer hours. There has been a particularly heavy down fall during last winter and spring on some trails. Some of these were “stock stoppers” with no way round.

Breaking trail!
Two ‘elite’ teams of sawyers worked with cross cuts and hand saws on the trails with the worst downfall:
One team hiked up War Creek Trail #408 and camped there, working up and down the trail. Packers took up their tools and made a daily food drop. They were up War Creek for the duration of the SWWP.  
The second team worked up South Creek Trail #401, then moved to the West Fork of the Buttermilk Trail #411 for one full day.

All other trails had some logs sawn out.

Brushing Cutting brush back to at least four feet from the center of the trail and eight feet high.
Serious brushing needed here!

Brush had become a serious and sometimes dangerous problem on several trails. In some places the tread was completely obliterated, so it was not possible for horse or rider to see the trail. In places brush forced trail users to an outer edge of the trail. In other cases brush was too dense for pack horses to get through.

Brushing work had to be undertaken before some of the work projects could begin. This was the case on Williams Creek Trail #407 where a team cleared heavy brush before pack stock could bring culverts up the trail. Teams also brushed Twisp Pass Trail #432 to allow tread work, Twisp River Trail #440 to allow easy passage of stock on the westernmost three miles of the trail between South Creek Trail Head (near the TRHC) and Gilbert Trailhead (the trail head giving access to both North Creek Trail #413 and Twisp Pass Trail). Major brushing was also done on South Creek Trail to ease access of pack stock to Louis Lake Trail #428 with bridge timber and material for drainage, and further up South Creek Trail to support the team of sawyers.
Thanks to brushing, there's a real trail here!

NOTE: The brushing work was of the highest standard and has made an enormous difference to the trails. Ride them and see!  

Drainage and Tread Work Putting in, replacing or re-covering culverts, building turnpikes, putting in water bars and tread drains, repairing water damage, bridge repair, widening trails, de-rocking trails.

Several trails had developed deep channels in the tread, these continued to get worse with time as water scoured them out during heavy rain or snow melt. Trails in this condition could damage the legs of stock and, at the least, hindered passage. Other places were boggy and required drainage before the trail repair.
Re-installing culverts on Williams Creek trail

Turnpike just about finished!
Examples of work carried out during the SWWP include: the turnpike, over 100 feet long, built on North Creek Trail; repair or installation of culverts up Williams Creek Trail, installing water bars and tread drains and tread work on a lower section of South Creek Trail (outside the wilderness); repair of bridge decking on Louis Lake Trail.


Packing in culverts to Williams Creek trail

Portions of trail were widened where formerly they were narrow and ‘edgy’, such as on North Creek Trail and a short stretch of South Creek Trail.

Packing On most of the trails in the wilderness work parties depended on pack horses or mules to carry in tools as well as materials (such as culverts, water bar posts and pins, bridge timber).

In addition, food supplies were taken to the team of sawyers who camped away from base at War Creek. Packing is classified as ‘skilled’ in recording volunteer hours.

Signage Some signs are damaged or have disappeared and need to be replaced. MVBCH President Cathy Upper has made some signs for the Twisp River Trail and Scatter where there are confusing junctions with no signs. 

More photos taken at the 2016 SWWP...

SWWP Coordinator Jason Ridlon on "Bill"
(above) and giving a morning briefing (below)
Picking out a work shirt
Our water crew
Keeping track of our Volunteer Hours

The fabulous "kitchen crew" making lunch!
Volunteers keep the camp clean
Getting ready to head out

Packing in tools to the work site

Bridge deck boards were replaced
Loading Williams Creek trail culverts and pins
Packing in equipment for culverts
One of the more nasty logs to be cut out
And, another nasty challenge!
South Creek Trail tread work
More South Creek Trail tread work
Packing in tools to Williams Creek Trail
Brushing up a trail
Patience, patience to get the load balanced!
Clearing a rock slide
Building a turnpike
Steady there... this has to go to Williams Creek!
Getting to a work site
Ready for work!
This is how we do it in the wilderness
War Creek Trail pack in
Starting a turnpike... digging, digging
What a mess!
Taking a break on site--whew, tough work!
Now and then, things got a little exciting!
But at the end of the day, everyone was friendly!
Thanks to everyone who joined in the 2016 SWWP!

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