Main­tain a Trail

It’s hard work, but there’s noth­ing quite as sat­is­fy­ing as im­prov­ing a trail for fu­ture hik­ers to en­joy.

Backpacker - - Public Lands | Save It - BY ELI BERNSTEIN

BE PRE­PARED.

“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.”

TREAD LIGHTLY.

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)

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