Volunteers keep trails open for summer fun

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(Courtesy photo) Volunteers take a break from working on Kootenai National Forestís Star Gulch Trail in late June

Summer is the perfect time to explore our wild backyard. But itís easy to forget how much work goes into keeping trails open for everyone.

Every summer, Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness volunteers pick up their Pulaskis and hit the trails. Their goal: clear debris, lay down tread, adjust grades and, in general, make trails usable for the entire public.

Dave Kretzschmar and Jeff Pennick are two such volunteers. While hiking up Goat Mountain Trail No, 135, they noticed how steep the trail grade is. As they continued, it became clear the entire trail needed rehabilitation and realignment. The good news is that Dave and Jeff, like many Friends, are happy to lend a helping hand on that work. Itís a great example of how FSPW volunteers go the extra mile to keep the Scotchmans wild and free.

ďI love the Scotchman Peaks,Ē said Kretzschmar. ďIíve been rambling their trails ever since I arrived here. They are rugged and wild, and the hand of man is light on the landscape.Ē

FSPW volunteers appreciate how the job gets them out in nature. And they take pride in knowing theyíre making their favorite locations more accessible for everyone. For example, volunteer crews dropped nearly a mile of the Scotchman Peak Trail #65 pitch from 25 to 14 percent in the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Our knees are all thankful for their hard work!

Is trail volunteering right for you? If so, there are plenty of options to get out in that clean air and water. You donít need any experience or ability level to participate. And everyone is welcome ó especially newcomers. The experienced crew leaders will take care of the rest.

This Saturday, July 27, volunteers head to Blacktail Creek Trail No, 997 in Kootenai National Forest to clear trail debris. On Aug. 3, they hit Ross Creek Trail No. 142 to repair a crossing after a big cedar tipped onto it. The upper end of Morris Creek Trail No. 132 is next on the schedule for Aug. 24. And on Sept. 7, 8 and 28 Goat Mountain Trail No. 135 will get the attention that Dave and Jeff noted.

Thatís just the beginning of a full summer on the trails. For more information and other trail dates, check out scotchmanpeaks.org/stewardship/events-schedule/. And keep an eye on scotchmanpeaks.org for more great events.

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