FSPW volunteers keep trails open (and fun)

Dave Kretzschmar and Jeff Pennick love the Scotchman Peaks, and especially Scotchman Peaks trails. On a gray day in April the two trudged up Goat Mountain Trail #35 on a mission to explore what needs to be done to improve that track. It’s kind of steep, to put it mildly, and they were helping to find ways to make it a bit more user-use friendly.

David Kretzschmar enjoying the view during a trail day on Goat Mountain in the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

That’s basically the job of the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness trail volunteers; making trails easier to find, stay on and — sometimes — even climb. A good example is the first three-quarters of a mile of Scotchman Peak Trail #65, which the FSPW trail crew “remodeled” during the 2015 and 2016 trail work seasons. The average pitch of the stretch dropped from about 25% to about 14%, which gives hikers a chance to warm up a bit at the bottom of the trail. Also, the views that first mile went from near zero to a whole bunch.

The change in grade and the added views are important, but so is how durable the trail is. The new tread goes a long way to prevent water damage from runoff. And, it has the stamp of approval of stock users Alan and Jesika Harper, who deemed the ride on Trail #65 one of their favorites. “When I am riding my horse in the Scotchmans,” Alan says, “I can’t help to think how lucky I am to have such a wild place with awesome views within an hour of my home.”

Jesika and Alan Harper giving their stock a break on top of Scotchman Peak in the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

FSPW volunteers help keep the Scotchman Peak trails in good shape. The 2019 “summer phase” Old Goat (volunteer of the year) is Larry Siegrest, one of the most stalwart trail volunteers. Larry started volunteering on Scotchman Peak trails in 2016, and in 2018 put in a record 8 days. That kind of dedication translates into better, more accessible trails for everyone. Public lands belong to everyone, and FSPW trail volunteers strive to keep local trails open for all to walk.

“I love the Scotchman Peaks,” said Kretzschmar. “I’ve been rambling their trails ever since I arrived here. They are rugged and wild and the hand of man is light on the landscape. I especially love taking kids outside in the Scotchmans. Clark Fork Outdoor Education classes have gone hiking up a lot of these trails with me, getting me out with kids of all ages.”

“One of my favorite places in this area is the Scotchman Peaks. They are so easy to get to and you can get away so quickly.”

Jeff Pennick, FSPW Trail Volunteer

“Trail work is not only good for the trail system, but it’s good for you, and it’s fun,” said volunteer Marla Groot Nibbelink.

Trail season is open and trail work adventures are waiting. Helping make and keep trails user-friendly can sometimes be hard work, but it is also great exercise, good citizenship, a source of camaraderie and very satisfying.

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Categories: Blog, Right Now
About The Author:

Sandy Compton has been program coordinator for Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness since 2009. He is also a storyteller and author of both fiction and non-fiction books, and the publisher at bluecreekpress.com.

In addition to his other duties, he runs the FSPW All Star Trail Team (www.scotchmanpeaks.org/trails), which works on Forest Service trails in the Scotchman Peaks. He is a trail surveyor as well, and a C-Certified Crosscut Bucker/Feller and USFS National Saw Policy OHLEC instructor.

Sandy grew up on a small farm/woodlot at the south end of the proposed wilderness and lives there still. He is also board member of the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance and a planning team member for the Northern Rockies Wilderness Skills Institute.

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