Building Trails

Have you ever hiked along a trail and thought "man, I wonder who built this? I want to build a trail!"? Ok, maybe that is not a thought most people have. That IS a thought that I have had frequently. Trail crews look like they are having so much fun! And working very hard.

Last week, I joined the Anchorage Adventurers group on Meetup after a friend recommended them. They sent out an email about volunteering to build trail. I half ignored the email. That same day, Alaska State Parks posted about the opportunity on Instagram. Ok, it is coming at me from multiple channels, I should pay attention. 

I signed up. 

I showed up at the appointed meeting location exactly 1 minute before the meeting time. The post had said that if you are late and miss the safety briefing, then no trail building for you. We were the first ones there to my relief. 

I signed my liability rights away and listened to the safety briefing. The briefing included some interesting information regarding how to build sustainable trails. After the talk, we each grabbed two tools and hiked up to the where the new trail was being put in. After about 20 minutes, we reached the end of the trail/beginning of the new trail. There, we got a brief rundown of how to use the tools and create a trail. 

The tools of the trade are the Pulaski (for ripping new trail), shovel (for finer tuning) and McLeod (for trail shaping). They demonstrated the use of these tools and how they are used to create a trail 3 feet wide. With minimal guidance, the group leaders pointed at the flag line marking the new trail and let the volunteers loose on the virgin soil. 

We worked for about 2 hours. The 30 of us probably broke 150 linear feet of trail in that time. 

Being an avid hiker of the Chugach, it was a fantastic opportunity to give back and leave a lasting impact on the park I call home. The opportunity was provided by a partnership between the Alaska State Parks and the volunteer organization, Alaska Trails. Various additional opportunities are listed on the Alaska Trails website, ranging in time commitment from after work to an entire weekend.  All tools, training, and equipment are provided.