Rehabilitation, Dirt Bag Style


I made an omelet to go this morning. Disobeying the bus’ ‘No Food’ sign, I powered up for a day of trail work.

The Friends of Eagles Nest Wilderness volunteer crew assembled outside the ranger station, largely drawn by the bit in the Community Notes section of our local paper. We partook of fruit, juice and the ever popular doughnut holes and coffee. Then off to North Tenmile Trail Head.

North Tenmile 7/13/13 Crew

I find it a perturbing misnomer that North Tenmile trail is >4 miles long.

This is where I began. Two [2] years ago. There is something significant in that. If you ever visited a childhood home, you know the feeling.

An old road for the first mile, the trail is a mellow climb, alternating between lovely meadows and pine forest.

An old road for the first mile, the trail is a mellow climb, alternating between lovely meadows and pine forest.

“We are kind of the Wilderness gurus,” explains the Mayor’s wife as we pass the rough wooden fence denoting the boundary.

"We are kind of the Wilderness area gurus,"

Two miles up, we enter Wilderness area.

Today’s mission: rehabilitate illegal campsites.
Campsites are to be 100 feet from trails and water sources (About 33 strides).
Stealth camping, on durable surfaces is the objective but in high use areas, this doesn’t always work. Then one day a person decides to hang out and build a fire ring. Then there is ash three [3] feet deep into the ground, panties in the soot, log benches, plastic 5 gallon buckets full of sheets of plastic, and a single shoe.

So here is what we do:

Illegal campsite

Identify built up sites which invite future unknowing hikers to come stomp out the meadow and attempt to burn 10 ft logs…

Fire-rings are the central focus of rehabing a site.

Rocks must be scattered at a good distance. Also, rocks are heavy.

Rocks must be scattered at a good distance. Also, rocks are heavy.  .  .

Especially this one.

.  .  .  Especially this one.

FENW Fact #1: tin foil does not burn. Please for to not throw in fires.

Then shovel out the ash and nails and other treasures buried therein. We picked out the bits of glass, metal and other ‘micro-trash’ to pack out then scattered the ash at wide berth.
I preferred the ‘rainbow’ method of emphatically flinging it off the end of my shovel. Which worked well except when tree branches intercepted and rebounded it onto me.
There is also the ‘Dirt Bag’ method wherein a heavy cloth sack is loaded with ash, refuse, or rocks, and transported away from the site.
We named one of our number in its honor.

Great, so now there is a big, soot scarred crater in the middle of the meadow.

Disguising

Which Dirt Bag has begun to cleverly disguise with a stump.

We transplant vegetation to tuck around it, then fill that in with duff. A few helmet-fulls of water later and, tada:

Good work, gang!

How'd we do?
Doesn’t scream, “come trample me!” so much anymore.

If a trail has been worn to a site, the misappropriated log benches serve as great and clear deterrents to unknowing hikers.

FENW fact #2: If there is a tree and brush carefully placed across the trail to a site, don’t camp there. Or, at least don’t build a campfire ring.

6 [six] sites rehabed as the other crew finished digging out drainages and we began to make our way back down the trail; just in time for the afternoon rain.

Which lasted about as long as it took us to stop, gear up, and get moving again.

Which lasted about as long as it takes to stop, gear up, and get moving again.

Somehow, the way back was just as far but passed much too quickly. Ernest conversations with new friends. Something about feeding from the same positive energy flow of hard work in the wilderness on a beautiful day brings a group together quickly.

.  .  .  Though not as quickly as a tub of guacamole and ice cold drinks back at the trail head.

. . . Though not as quickly as a tub of guacamole and ice cold drinks back at the trail head.

3 thoughts on “Rehabilitation, Dirt Bag Style

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