Monday, April 6, 2020

2020 -- Getting Back to The Mission!

Thoughtful notes from our MVBCH Trail Boss, Bill Ford.
It’s time to hit ‘Pause’! With the Spring Ride cancelled and our Chapter meetings stymied by social distancing and the closure of places to get together, how are MVBCH members going to do our bit for the BCHW mission this year?

We should still be able to reach the end of 2020 having done something good towards getting/keeping the trails open and accessible in the Methow.  There will be plenty of opportunities if we remain enthusiastic enough to act on them.

Let’s go out and hit the trails after the snow melts, hopefully in May.  Enjoy the forest while helping to prepare for the State Wide Work Party (SWWP) in early July at the Twisp River Horse Camp.  The large group of dedicated trail workers arriving then includes many with considerable experience of trail building, repair and maintenance.  To make best use of their skills they will be organized into trail crews to address specific problems, and these crews have to be able to access the place on the trail where they will be working.

This is where MVBCH members can make a real difference to the outcome of the SWWP.  We can cut out trails in the Twisp River to their wilderness boundaries to help with access.  We can also ride or hike to scout the trails, as far as the snow line allows, to check for places where there are problems that need to be fixed by the SWWP.  This is particularly important on those trails which no one managed to cut out last year after the Crescent Mountain Fire in 2018. We can also take part in the SWWP itself.

There are already several projects planned, these include: the bridge where Twisp River Trail crosses Eagle Creek, this was completely destroyed and has to be rebuilt; Louis Lake bridge needs re-decking; and an avalanche slide has brought trees, rocks and debris across Williams Lake on a talus slope area, this has to be checked out and repaired.  The list goes on.

In May we plan on having several small work parties up Twisp River with not more than nine people so we can keep our social distances while working on the trail. 
After the SWWP there may be trail work that needs completing up Twisp River.  In addition, we can support the Pasayten Hot Shot Team which will be working a little later in July than the SWWP.   A welcome dinner will probably be organized by MVBCH at a date yet to be scheduled.

We are also working to accommodate people who wish to stay for longer than a day to ride the network of lower trails which exist, and are being further developed, round Loup Loup.   We are into the second (final) phase of constructing North Summit Horse Camp (NSHC).  A generous donation of $1000 worth of fencing supplies from the Okanogan Chapter of BCHW will allow us to get on with building the south border fence of the campground as soon as the snow melts.   Without this donation, we would not be able to do very much. We are still waiting to sign a contract with the Forest Service to allow us to be reimbursed for large expenses incurred in Phase 2.  A substantial RCO grant was awarded to the Forest Service for Phase 2 five months ago in October 2019.  Until this contract is signed and implemented, we will only be doing small projects at the campground. 

We will organize some small-group work parties to build the fence funded by the Okanogan Chapter as soon as we are able to do so.

There is a busy summer ahead, but I think we’re all eager to get back into the forest and on the trails.  We just hope that the coronavirus won’t take the whole summer out.
I’d be grateful for information on the trail conditions you experience if you are out and about. Also, let me know if you have any particular areas of interest. For my part, I’ll keep you up to date on planned work parties and projects.

Hit the trails and keep in touch. With plenty of MVBCH members participating, and all of us coordinating our efforts, we can make a real difference.

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