A total of seventeen Friends from Sandpoint, Spokane, Hayden, Noxon and even Utah showed up Saturday, June 19 to help put Scotchman Peak Trail #65 “back in order” for the hiking season. Last fall, a microburst storm uprooted dozens of trees along the trail, crisscrossing the tread with many blowdowns. FSPW volunteers Jim and Sandii Mellen cleared much of the trail just after the storm. With a Forest Service saw team leading the way, a work crew from Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness cleared the rest of the blowdowns, as well as maintaining waterbars and rebuilding tread, particularly in the lower half of the trail.
Panhandle Forest Trails and Recreation Manager Mary Ann Hamilton brought a trail crew of six to help out on Saturday, including sawyers Eric Morgan, Lance Gidley, Brian Pratt and Eric Demers and trail workers Anthony Copeland and Matt Ruskey.
The Friends crew followed the saw team up the mountain with pulaskis, loppers, shovels and just plain old people power, rolling the sawn sections of blowdowns off the trail, as well as tossing rocks, refreshing worn tread, removing brush and branches and dealing as best as they could with several huge “rootwads,” the base of uprooted trees that sometimes entirely blocked the trail.
In addition to supplying the saw team, the Forest Service also brought tools, hard hats, gloves, water, bug spray, sun screen, cookies and t-shirts for the participating Friends. And, in recognition of the great work done last fall by veteran FSPW hike leaders and volunteers Jim and Sandii Mellen, Mary Ann Hamilton expressed the gratitude of the Forest Service by presenting them with fleece jackets emblazoned with “Volunteer.” The recognition is well deserved.
This first cooperative work day between the Forest Service and FSPW was initiated by an e-mail from Hamilton last spring. The results were spectacular. In about five and a half hours, the lower half of the trail got a great facelift, as well as a couple of major surgeries to repair tread and remove obstacles. A string of “free hikers” throughout the day expressed their admiration and gratitude for the work done by the Forest Service and the Friends.
“I hope we can do another day soon,” said Hamilton. “The saw crew was impressed with how much the FSPW group accomplished.”
FSPW program coordinator Sandy Compton was grateful for the efforts of the FSPW volunteers. “One of the most satisfying moments of the day came while walking out at the end of the day,” he said. “I was with a string of FSPW folks carrying pulaskis and loppers and we met a group of hikers who stepped out of our way and said ‘Thanks’ to us as we passed by. Made me straighten my back. I was proud to be a part of that work crew.”
A workday on Star Peak Trail #998 in cooperation with the Kootenai National Forest Cabinet District is planned for July 10. To volunteer or for more information, contact Jacob Styer at firstname.lastname@example.org.