About 20 years ago, I recall being involved in another Sun Summit sponsored volunteer work session on Fox Creek. Back then, the Ketchum Ranger District (KRD) was finding that the new sport of mountain biking was really taking off, and they needed help with a backlog of needed trail maintenance. More trail-use and continued budget-cuts were indicators to the KRD that something was about to give. They needed help, and local riders, striders, bike shops and sporting goods stores stepped up to the plate.
Area trail users and valley businesses came together and formed an all-volunteer trail group called Big Wood Backcountry Trails (BWBT). The group included hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and motorcycle riders. BWBT quickly raised money to fund a forest service trail crew for the summer, and it got very involved with volunteer efforts on the local trails. This helped avert trail closures, and it helped open up lines of communication, and set a tone of cooperation that continues today.
Twenty years ago, and last Wednesday night, the Fox Creek Trail needed help with its drainage. Water was running down the trail during spring-melt and following larger storms. This running water was forming ruts and making the trail difficult to tread. Improvements were needed to the trail’s drains, to get the flowing water off of the trail.
At that earlier volunteer work event (I think it was 1997) we built some massive, lippy drains, that were effective at draining the trail, but were not so pleasant for trail users, especially for descending mountain bikers. Back then, our bikes were kind of up-right, and suspension technology was rather non-existent. And dropper seat posts; not invented yet (well, there was this springy-thing and quick-release seat post binders, but not many people stopped at the tops of descents to lower their saddle).
Being so high on our bikes, we found it pretty easy to get bucked off, especially if you happened to have your center of gravity too-high at the wrong moment. The abrupt drains we installed on Fox back in the late ’90s provided a lot of such moments. People were crashing all over the place and weren’t too pleased with our work. We got back out there and did some re-shaping, and things got a lot better. Time and wear also softened things.
In subsequent years the trail did see further maintenance, but not a lot of work was done to those drains. In time they got worn down and clogged with sediment and plants. We needed to clean them out, and build them back up to effectively drain the trail again. Build them back up, but in a fashion that is much less abrupt.
In recent years the trail has become increasingly rutted in some areas. In these areas, drains need to be large in order to work. They must be effective at draining the trail, but subtle enough to be hardly noticeable to people treading over them. Mountain bikers can roll through them without getting air. Advanced riders can roll over them in a fashion that allows them to boost-them a bit. That is to say, get a little air over them. Nothing big, but boost-able.
Once the drains were maintained the crew got to work making repairs to sections of the trail that had become rutted. The trail’s back-slope was re-cut in areas above the rutted sections, and the moist-soil obtained there was compacted into the rutted tread. Other volunteers cut-back plants that were growing into the travel-way, making passage more pleasant and opening up lines of sight in areas with limited visibility.
We had a great effort from all the volunteers! Thank you Sun Summit for your long standing dedication to the maintenance of Fox Creek, and thank you volunteers (listed in order as they appear on the sign-in sheet):
John Straka, Mark Deffe’, Donna Roth, Phil Roth, Dave Bell, Dick English, Sherri Newland, Adrienne Leugers, Martha Deffe’, Nancy McMath, Laurie Leman, Steve Edsall, Drew Deffe’, Craig Bierly, Stacey Ward, Mike Stemp, Chip Deffe’, Chloe Deffe’, Myles Deffe’, Wyatt Griffin.
Two more volunteer work events have recently been scheduled. Tools and instruction provided. All are welcome. Its fun!
This Sunday, June 11, from 8 a.m. to 12 noon the trail group Far Back Outdoors is hosting a volunteer trail work session on the lowest three miles of the Oregon Gulch Trail. Meet at the Oregon Gulch Trailhead.
On Tuesday, June 13, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Nordic Gold Team is hosting a volunteer trail maintenance event on Harper’s Trail. Meet at the BLM Lake Creek Trailhead.
For more information about these volunteer trail work opportunities please visit the Volunteer Info Page of the BCRD Summer TraiLink Site or get a hold of me, Chris Leman, BCRD Wood River Valley Trail Coordinator. Text/call:(208)720-7713/email:firstname.lastname@example.org