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Western States Trail

 

This past June ACE’s Pacific West Northern branch worked on the Western States Trail for two weeks. The Western States Trail is most well-known for hosting the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run and the Tevis Cup, a 100-Mile race on horseback. Drawing in people from across the country and world, the trail begins in Squaw Valley and runs over rugged mountains and deep canyons before finishing at Placer High School in Auburn.

The crew was led by ACE Crew Leader, Jessica Paterson in partnership with the US Forest Service and the Western States Trail Foundation. Over the course of the project, the crew primarily focused on tread maintenance and corridor clearing. Equestrians and mountain bikers utilize the trail along with runners and hikers and in some locations off-highway vehicles. This broad variety of use and challenging terrain requires extensive maintenance to keep the trail safe and passable, while also reducing erosion.  Higher vegetation clearance for horseback riders is essential and the removal of berms to help shed water will help keep the watershed healthy. The crew performed this trail work on switchbacks deep in the remote Canyons near Devils Thumb, which is challenging to access and was in need of maintenance.

The Western States Run is a test of human endurance along beautiful views of central California through canyons and across the Middle Fork of the American River. This ACE crew got to contribute to the sustainability and longevity of this trail that bears witness each year to the capacity of some of the worlds most spirited long distance runners.

http://wstrail.org/

Inyo National Forest | Lamarck Lakes Trail

At the start of this summer, eight Tahoe based corps members packed up their tents and tools and hiked into the backcountry of the Inyo National Forest, California. The Inyo encompasses sections of the eastern Sierra Nevada and the White Mountains of California and Nevada as well as Mount Whitney, the highest point in the continental US.

 This ongoing project will continue for four months this year on the Lamarck Lakes Trail. The trail ends at the 13,000′ Lamarck Col and is the most popular access for climbers accessing the Evolution Range, which is a world famous climbing destination for alpinists.  As a result of its growing popularity and harsh winters, the trail requires extensive rockwork and maintenance which began in 2017 and is continuing this season through October 2018.

Working in the backcountry and in the John Muir Wilderness requires a particular sensitivity. The work being done will be accomplished with primitive tools and traditional skills. The crew will be rock bars, double jacks, and other basic trail work tools to achieve the project goals. Pack mules have been integral in being able to complete this project by packing up tools, food and other supplies for the crew throughout the summer. 

Overall the goal is to improve trail safety for hikers and equestrians, including water bar repairs and maintenance, tread stabilization, step and check dam repairs, stream channel debris removal, and retaining wall stabilization. Short reroutes and restoration of the abandoned trails will also be completed. The crew experienced some setbacks this summer from two weeks of severe thunderstorms which caused a landslide that washed out the trailhead. 

ACE Pacific West is laying a strong foundation for this ongoing project. This partnership with the US Forest Service has instilled skills and values within the ACE crew members and ACE is excited to see the progression of this project.

 

Dixie National Forest | Bunker Creek Trail

This past June ACE had both Southwest and Mountain-west based crews working side by side on the Bunker Creek Trail. The Bunker Creek Trail is located in the Dixie National Forest, Utah’s largest national forest, expanding over 170 miles in Southern Utah. The trail, which is intended for mountain bikers, is a total of 11.6 miles one way and reaches elevations of over 10,000 feet. The single track Bunker Creek Trail is designed to start at the top of the mountain with the bikers having another person at the bottom to shuttle them. 

In the summer of 2017 this area of Dixie National Forest, known as Brian Head experienced a massive forest fire expanding over 100 square miles including the area of the original Bunker Creek Trail. In partnership with the Dixie National Forest, the ACE trail crews came in with the goal to reroute some areas of the trail with a more sustainable slope as well as maintain and clear parts of the existing trail. The ACE Southwest crew, led by ACE Crew Leader, Emily Merlo was out for four project weeks and the Mountain-west crew, led by ACE Crew Leader, Jordan Herron for six project weeks. 

To re-establish the Bunker Creek Trail post-fire, the new tread was created initially with a dozer and then smoothed out with hand tools by the crew. The dozer created multiple reroutes which resulted in approximately four miles of trail that the crews completed in June 2018. Another crew returned in August 2018 to complete .6 miles of trail that connected to the top end of the North Bunker Trail as well.  

The Bunker Creek Trail is located just down the road from Cedar Breaks National Monument and features beautiful views of light-colored volcanic rock as well as bright pink cliffs. The ACE crews were privileged to work in this beautiful area in partnership with the US Forest Service with the Cedar City Ranger District. 

ACE is looking forward to continuing to partner with the Dixie National Forest in restoring and enhancing safe recreational trail access in 2019.

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