Maintain a Trail
It’s hard work, but there’s nothing quite as satisfying as improving a trail for future hikers to enjoy.
“Be safe,” Downs says. “You need the proper footwear and the proper clothes. Light hikers and sneakers are great for hiking. But for trail work, you’re dealing with 500-pound rocks and sharp tools that are applied with force, so you’ll want heavy-duty footwear. Wear long pants. Treat it like you’re at a construction site.”
GET FAMILIAR WITH THE WORK.
“It shouldn’t be the first time you use a hand tool,” Downs says. Gauge your fitness level by doing yard work or other laborintensive activities to get a sense of how you’ll handle the rigors of trail maintenance. “Knowing that will let you work within your limits on the trail.”
FOLLOW THE LEADER.
“Be open to critiques from your supervisors,” Sommerville says. “Listening to instruction is important for making improvements that are supposed to last many years.”
After a day of trail work, you’ll want to keep all paths in good condition. “Walk on the inside [uphill side] of the trail. The outside edge is the most easily ruined part,” Sommerville says. “If there are wet areas, walk right through the middle of them. Don’t cut switchbacks.”
Big Agnes co-founder Bill Gamber at work on the CDT (page 68)