PCTA Trail Reconfiguration Class
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I have been on quite a few volunteer work crews with the Pacific Crest Trail Association and I have taken a few of their classes. This was my favorite one so far! It is not very often that a class will teach such an in-depth subject and then actually be able to show, in person, all that was covered in the course.
The PCTA Trail Operations Manager, Mike Dawson, was the head teacher of this course along with Bill Hawley, the PCTA North Cascades Regional Representative. Mike Dawson was very knowledgeable and easy to learn from. "For every problem a crew finds on the trail, there are 1000 good solutions and 100 bad solutions. The idea is to try and pick one of the good solutions as your plan of attack," Mike said after multiple ideas were given on the trail portion of the class.
The PCTA does not charge for these courses and they feed everyone in the class. In fact, they fed others that showed up just to socialize as well. Having done volunteer work with other groups, this is valuable content to learn and to think it is a free course! Also, this was the second PCTA event held in the Concrete area at volunteer Loren Schmidt's property. His land is worth signing up, just to spend the night there.
Trail reconfiguration can happen on different levels in most work crews that go out to fix a trail. Evaluating work in spots usually include finding where exactly the trail was designed to be. Slump in the trail can be caused by infringing brush or a blowdown that have been in the way for too long. It is important to get the trail back where it belongs and that is what was covered in this course.
The Huckleberry Mountain Trail is on the deferred maintenance list for the Darrington Ranger District due to lack of maintenance and lack of funds for maintenance. The first 1/4 mile is somewhat newer trail, built to reconnect with the old trail after the Suiattle River Road was rerouted three years ago, separating the road further from the river.
Just after the newer portion of trail joins the original trail it was very obvious that the uphill brush was causing the trail to slump as hikers dropped away from it to avoid the unpruned foliage. There were even a few blowdowns that had been cut at the slumped trail level. Our teachers showed us the plan of attack, flagging the actual trail location.
Our class pulled out the organic material to expose the valuable soil and rocks underneath. Then, using the flags, the soil was pulled back to recreate the trails long buried back slope. This PCTA class reconfigured nearly 1/4 mile of trail in the one and a half days of trail work, learning trail skills that they might not have otherwise learned.