Monday, July 27, 2009

Norway Pass weekend of trail work on Mt St Helens

The weekend of July 25, there were three trail work parties on Mt St Helens, two of which I can report huge success! The third (wta at norway pass) I just don't know all the details but heard about it in the parking lot afterwards. The actual events as posted on the calendar were Mount St Helens - Norway Pass 3 day Trail Work and Mount St Helens - Ape Canyon Trail Work Party.

Representing Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, I cross posted one event that was led by the Growlers Gulch Trail Crew and Northwest Trail Alliance. Although I was not able to entice anybody from Evergreen to come for that event, it was a huge success with a whopping 14 volunteers, as reported from this link I suppose Evergreen didn't help on Ape Canyon that weekend, but we support their efforts nonetheless, great job GG and NWTA!

Evergreen did make a huge contribution that weekend however, as I was able to join forces with three volunteers from the Mt St Helens Institute for two days of trail work at Norway Pass. We started with a 4 and a half mile hike up Norway Pass to Bear Camp, where we set up our tents and did some trail work near the camp, mostly sawing downed trees. The next day, we started doing some light trail work as we descended to the Lakes Trail, when the real work began! On the Lakes Trail, we fixed a landslide such that it is safer and passable, yet due to the extensive damage this will require a reroute in the future. A big part of the problem here was that the pumice was deep, the trail was steep, and the landslide left a rather unstable section of debris that will need to be removed. We did successfully make it safer though. Another section of trail had gotten so narrow and steep that the trail was barely there. Here, we were able to widen the trail and bank it properly so that it will be sustainable for a few more seasons. Returning to the Norway Pass Trail, we rounded out the day by cutting thru some huge downed trees in the trail. This was a challenge with a four foot buck saw, probably the hardest trail work I've ever done.

The Norway Pass trail work was just the beginning for some, as there were a few more people who were planning on five days of trail work there. Henry Painter was our crew leader, this was the third event I've been on with him, and would like to say he is the best trail crew leader I've had the pleasure to work with. Henry made it fun, shared a lot of knowledge about trail work as well as the volcano. I always learn from him more aspects of trail work. Henry had led a hike to the rim of the crater the day before, and was planning on returning for the five day event after I was gone. Brent Long and Amy Edwards did a great job as well! It seemed both of them had a lot of determination to finish off the huge logs along the way, I can relate to that.

A minor casualty along the way, both of my hiking boots completely delaminated while fixing the landslide on the Lakes Trail! Doh! This is the second pair of hiking boots destroyed while doing trail work on Mt St Helens, the first pair was last year also on the Lakes Trail but at a different location. Consequently, I did trail work and hiking back having no arch support, which hurt my plantar fasciitis. Eventually it was too much, so I switched to my sneakers once we were done with digging work.

As a side note, anyone planning to camp at Bear Camp as we did, is required to have a backcountry permit. We of course were covered.

Click on any of the 23 photos below for full size, some of the images look great when enlarged! The first 5 photos are from the night before the event officially started, as I wanted to be at the volcano early. If you wish original copies of photos for even higher resolution, or more photos of the trail crew that I just didn't have room to post, send me a holler and I can get them to you.

If this sounds like fun or perhaps you care about trails at Mt St Helens, please join me on either of two upcoming events, as posted on the Evergreen calendar.

  1. August 29, 2009 Mount Saint Helens - Coldwater Trail Work Party. See
  2. September 26, 2009 Mount St Helens NVM National Public Lands Day event. See

Sunrise from Smith Creek overlook, Mt Rainier in background

Smith Creek

Camping near Smith Creek overlook, or so it appears, I don't see anyone in there :)

Smith Creek overlook

Smith Creek overlook

Needle Lake by Norway Pass Trailhead, Mt Rainier on the left

Needle Lake by Norway Pass Trailhead

Amy Edwards on Norway Pass Trail

Tree blocking trail, by view of Mt Rainier

Spirit Lake from Norway Pass

Henry hiking up Norway Pass Trail

Brent Long by log that he cut

Bear Camp sunrise

Bear Camp to Mt St Helens

Mt St Helens morning from Bear Camp

Mt Adams from Bear Camp

Landslide pumice is deep, light, and loose

Henry moving log by landslide

Henry Climbing by Lakes Trail

Brent inspects landslide

Lakes Trail before fixing

Amy Fixing Lakes Trail

Amy Sawing Log

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