by Grant Lafontaine (88) and Warner Clarke (66-70)
How sweet it is to plan a Trails Weekend and have it fall on the most gorgeous weekend of the fall. Hoo- wee!
A small but enthusiastic group gathered up at the camp to complete some trail maintenance on the camp hiking trails. After a fine high carb Saturday breakfast courtesy of Mark Purcell (80-84, 90-92) and Jeff Lake (76-77, 06), four of us, Warner Clarke (66-70), Beth Hoen, Barb Hough (02-03, 05-07) and Richard Pengelly (88) drove up to Hurst Lake in Grant Lafontaine (88)‘s new Jeep. We followed Cooper’s Loop west past Beaver Lake to North Lake. We noted that the path across the old Beaver dam at the east end of Beaver Lake could benefit from constructing a walkway to avoid major damage to the dam and muddy shoes. This could be a good future Trails weekend project.
The Trail to North Lake was in fairly good shape and required just some minor clearing and re-routing around large tree falls. From North Lake to Mislaid the trail was generally clear as well, with only minor maintenance required on this section.
At Mislaid Lake, Grant took off back towards Moore Lake with the intention of hiking quickly up the Hurst Lake road to retrieve the jeep and drive back to meet the rest of the Trails crew at Moore Lake. The Trail crew walked at a slower pace removing deadfall from the trail and rerouting sections that were less passable.
This route was also in pretty good shape. At Pea Pond, we noted that some bridge maintenance is needed and should be undertaken as early next year as feasible. Because of the proximity to Moore Lake and reasonable 4 wheel drive access, a late spring project could be undertaken.
We inspected the Moore Lake campsites. Warner reported that they were as pretty as ever.
From Moore Lake we walked a short distance along the road to meet up with Grant who was having a great time experimenting with his Jeep in low range & 4 wheel drive. Warner informed him that the road was graded frequently in the 1960’s.
We returned to the hub for a great (late) lunch and planned the afternoon hike. Barb got recruited for other duties and Beth begged off, having brought work with her on the weekend-the life of a self-employed person on a deadline.
We drove the RV (Howard to those on a first named basis) out along the Kennaway Road past the Mill site to the beginning of the Pikes Peak trail. Beth drove the RV back along the Kennaway road, parking it at the entrance to the Hurst Lake road where she resumed working on her project.
Grant, Richard and Warner walked down the trail to the Gorge and crossed the Gorge. We noted that the first assent on the opposite side of the Gorge is challenging and most of the limited amount of soil has eroded away from years of scrambling up this section. This short section of the trail could be improved with the addition of some ropes for handholds, and may be a reasonable use for sections of climbing rope that can no longer be used at the rappelling site.
It was regrettable that we were camera-less at the summit of Pike’s Peak as the view was absolutely perfect, with fall colours just beginning to assert themselves in the forest below. We descended the north side. Like the south face, the last few meters is quite challenging. There is not any obvious better route, although it may be worth revisiting, or, like the south face, consider putting in some ropes for handholds.
The J.C. trail along the edge of Minnie required some re-alignment and cutting due to some major tree falls. We followed the J.C. trail back to narrows and returned up the Hurst Lake road to the Kennaway Road to Beth and the RV. Whereupon it was back to the Hub to clean up, have a dinner of Dijon Chicken and a campfire of sorts in the hub. Beth and Warner contributed tunes into the evening.
Sunday morning, we decided to tackle the JC Trail section between Blueberry Road and the Drag Lake Campsite. Fueled with yet another high carb breakfast, we used Howard the RV again , drove out the Kennaway road to the East Bay road and found a pull off adjacent to where the JC Trail from Mislaid Lake crosses the Blueberry Road.
We crossed the road and were immediately into some serious trail repair. The section of trail uphill from the road is heavily disturbed through a combination of logging slash and significant windfall that was the result of several microbursts in 2006.
We completed some clearing and re-aligning of the trail and then emerged onto a logging access road that had been cut along the top of the first ridge.
Once across this new clearing we proceeded to the edge of valley where the JC Trail would normally, though steeply descend en route to the campsite. The destruction, primarily in this section due to the microbursts was very significant. The wall of the valley was virtually impassable. From the top of the valley, we could see that the bottom of the valley was now filled with horizontal tree trunks.
We descended halfway down the valley and looked at the trail from the perspective of a troop of scouts. Our analysis was that major clearing, possibly aided by chainsaws would be necessary to recreate a trail in this section. We ascended to the top of the first ridge again and followed the new lumber access road west. We concluded that it may be possible to reroute the JC trail along this new right-of-way, bypassing the valley and accessing the camp by a less direct, but potentially easier trail. Some further analysis using some topographical maps and perhaps a GPS, may yield a good route and an excellent 2008 Trails project.
We beat a hasty retreat back to the RV. Beth powered up her computer to complete her project and Grant, Richard and Warner checked out the trail markings on the JC trails from the Blueberry Road north towards Mislaid Lake. The entrance to the JC trail at Blueberry road is currently blocked by a large fallen tree and will require chain saw or much effort with bow saws to remove.
Because part of the JC Trail towards Mislaid Lake now runs parallel to an access road to a private cabin, some improved marking will be required for the trail, or the JC Trail could share this right of way for part of the trail to Mislaid.
We headed back to the Hub for a final lunch and to consider what Trail Projects could be undertaken in 2008. Our list contains the following unprioritized tasks.
- Improve Coopers Loop Trail at Beaver Lake Dam – possible construction of bridge/walk way
- Maintenance work on Coopers Loop Pea Pond bridge
- Improve Pikes Peak Trail – install hand rail/rope from Gorge on the south face ascent/descent
- Improve Pikes Peak Trail – install hand rail/rope at north face ascent/descent or consider reconfiguration of trail at the junction of the PP and JC Trail at their junction
- Re-align and remark JC Trail from Blueberry road to Drag Lake campsite
- Re-align and remark JC Trail from Blueberry road north to junction of old JC Trail and access road