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City of Boulder | Mount Sanitas Trail

In 2018, ACE Southwest began work on the Mount Sanitas Trail in Boulder, Colorado. Mount Sanitas Trail is a moderate to difficult trail which travels along both sides of the ridge, leading to the summit of Mount Sanitas. The steep grade of this trail has exposed the tread to heavy erosion over the years, which leads to loose rocks and dangerous conditions. The ACE crew in 2018 worked alongside the Boulder City Open Spaces and Mountain Parks team, to build an expansive rock staircase which totaled 39 rock steps being installed. The crew also put in a 228 square foot retaining wall. In 2019, the crew was led by ACE crew leader Kiersten Bonesteel and ACE project manager Sam Richards. This season 28 new steps were installed approximately a mile up the trail.Through the use of highlines and advanced rigging systems, the crew members moved rocks across the ridge and placed them to define the trail and create a more sustainable path to the summit. Using multiple grip-hoists and walkie talkies, crew members communicated with each other to execute successful rock movements. Once the rocks were relocated, crew members used rifting hammers, hammer points and other tools to shape and fit the rocks to sit securely in their place. This work is extremely technical and requires patience and clear communication between crew members but the results speak for themselves. ACE is thrilled to have finished another successful season of working with the City of Boulder Open Spaces and Mountain Parks and looks forward to the future of this partnership.

Grand Canyon National Park | North Kaibab Trail

Every year our crews tie up their boots and head into the Grand Canyon National Park. The Grand Canyon was one of the first project partners ACE ever had and our partnership continues to strengthen and grow as time goes on. This year our Southwest crew had the opportunity to go backcountry on the North Rim of the Canyon. The North Kaibab trail is the most strenuous route out of the canyon with steep switchbacks and stunning views. Many who visit the park find it surprising that, despite only being 24 miles from the south rim to the north rim as the crow flies, it actually takes about four hours to drive.On a Wednesday morning, our crew led by Carina Zenti geared up and began hiking into the canyon on the North Kaibab Trail. “Part of what makes working in the canyon so different from working in other areas is the sheer amount of people that visit. We get more compliments on our work here and the visitors are always really grateful that we are here maintaining the trails,” said Zenti. The canyon receives more than 5 million visitors each year, making it the second most visited park in the US. Of those 5 million, about 80% will hike at least one to two miles into the canyon and about 11% will take the trails to the bottom. This amount of foot traffic in addition to the natural course of erosion in the canyon calls for constant trail maintenance.
The ACE crew spent seven days camped approximately five miles into the canyon. Each day they performed cyclical maintenance on the trail which includes fixing and improving drains, clearing loose rocks from the trail, smoothing the tread and working on any other general issues with the trail that need attention. The crew also worked with the NPS staff to guard the trail while they worked on a rock slide. It is always a privilege for our corps members to work in the canyon alongside the National Park Service staff.