restoration-1-6The current state of the extremely popular North Fork Trail near Glen Haven in the Big Thompson canyon is a good news-bad news situation. The bad news, of course, is that the trail was heavily damaged in the September 2013 flood. The mile of trail below the Cheley Camp was entirely washed away. Of the six bridges on the trail, only one was left standing, a result of a debris jam in front of it that diverted water around it. The rest were ripped from their embankments. A few can be found downstream from their former locations, wrapped around trees or stuck in sandbanks, and their timbers may be useful for other reclamation projects. Others are totally gone.

restoration-1The good news is, a new trail is being rebuilt by the Forest Service with the help of local organizations such as the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers, the Larimer Country Horseman's Association, the Larimer Country Conservation Corps, the Colorado Mountain Club, and other members of the public who care about this trail. Although not completely finished, I had the opportunity to walk the proposed route of the new trail from the Cheley Camp to where it intersects the old trail in the switchback section near campsite 9 just before the Rocky Mountain National Park border. The trail is located on the north bank of the river, on the other side and up much higher than it was before, out of the way of river flooding. I think it is going to make this trail even more popular than it was before.

emmaline-1-18To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, PWV is working hard this year to get more people comfortable spending a night in the backcountry. The Get Into Wilderness program is off to a great start with David Fanning and Gerry Cashman taking eight novice backpackers on a Backpacking 101 hike to Emmaline Lake in the Comanche Peak Wilderness the last weekend in June.

The emphasis on this hike was to go as light and as inexpensively as possible. No one requires a 40 pound backpack to spend a single night outside. And, no one should buy a lot of new gear unless they are sure this is something they are going to enjoy doing. Plus, unless you have gone backpacking a couple of times and gained some experience with what works and what doesn't, it is difficult to know what kind of gear to buy.


As I walked along the trail back to my car, I noticed a tingling feeling around my lips and eyes. The tips of my fingers and toes were also tingling. Five minutes earlier I had stepped on what I thought was a cactus. This is an odd response to a cactus wound, I thought. As I continued walking, the tingling became more pronounced, and I had the sensation that the world was closing in on me. I began to worry I might not be able to make the remaining half mile down the trail to my car, where my wife was waiting. I stopped several times in the last hundred yards to collect my strength. At last, I made it. "Take me to the hospital emergency room," I mumbled to my wife, as I opened the car door and collapsed into unconsciousness.

My wife, of course, was shocked to see the man she had left only an hour ago in perfect health now slumped in a heap halfway into the car. Fortunately, a young couple was nearby and they called 911 for help. The 911 dispatcher advised the couple to stretch me out on the ground and immediately begin CPR treatment until the paramedics arrived. Because of my age, everyone assumed I had suffered a heart attack, including the paramedics who arrived less than 10 minutes later to find my heart racing and my blood pressure exceedingly low. After they managed to stabilize my life-threatening blood pressure, I revived enough to complain about my big toe. My shoe was removed and the paramedics discovered two puncture wounds on the bottom of my big toe. How these had come to be there was a mystery, but my symptoms were consistent with a snakebite and they radioed ahead to the hospital so they could begin thawing the snake antivenom, a process that takes over an hour. In the meantime, the ambulance raced to the hospital.

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  • Your story stays with me when I hike. Sorry you had to go through this, but it is a lesson I'll never forget. But going barefoot on a trail would, thankfully, never cross my mind :-). Glad you are fully recovered.
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lion gulch restoration-8While Memorial Day is a time of remembering and reflection, it also marks the beginning of summer for many. There are graduations to celebrate, picnics to attend, and lawns to be mowed after spring rains. Despite the many alternative ways to spend the weekend, over 40 PWV volunteers and guests chose to spend one or two days of their holiday weekend repairing the Lion Gulch Trail, damaged by last September's floods. May 24th and 25th marked the first of PWV's Trail Restoration Days, in which we invite PWV volunteers and the public to join us in repairing and rebuilding damaged trails.

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IMG 4164Even though we had over two feet of fresh snow on many of our trails on May 12, the winter patrol season for 2014 ended on April 24. From January 24th through April 24th, 49 PWV members completed 86 patrols, some on snowshoes, many with traction devices on our boots and some on lovely spring days with just hiking shoes or boots on our feet. With 725 people seen and 525 folks contacted, we know the public is out there during this season, as well, so there is a good opportunity to meet folks and also to do some trail and weed work. It's great fun to see the trails in all seasons -- very different and always beautiful.

14037520330 223e0fc5d7 bWhat a great weekend to be a coyote -- or an antelope, grizzly, fox, deer, badger, elk. To go feral, join a pack of other new PWV recruits and follow the lead of savvy veteran volunteers as they took us through the paces, and three miles of training trails, meeting misguided forest volunteers who needed our help and budding expertise. "Hello, my name is ... and I'm with the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers."

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