Tuesday, June 24, 2008

High Schells Worthington Canyon

The High Schells. 121,000 of wilderness beginning at an elevation of 7,000 feet and ending with North Schell peak at 11,883 One of the largest wilderness areas managed by the Forest Service in this state.The largest Elk herd in the state roam in large and varied limestone encrusted bowls. Backcountry skiing in the winter, hunting in the fall, solitude abounds year-round. For us it was restoration work in Worthington Canyon, a drainage that had been blown out in only 2 days by a coursing creek in the winter of 2005.
Four volunteers, Josh the Forest Service Natural Resources Manager and I begin the trek up the canyon around 9 a.m. Sage is the dominant species and it is hot even at 7300 feet. We carry Pulaskis, Mattock, a shovel, digging bar and extra water. To the left as we wind up to the worksite is a trough of changing depths but at times is close to six-feet deep cut by rain and snow run-off. Nothing flows through it now but the power of the creek is obvious in the evidence it’s left behind. The hike takes us through Pinyon, Juniper, and little groups of healthy Aspen. We get to the site, a two-track that Josh wants to make a single-track to discourage mechanized travel in the wilderness area. We braid a path into the road by pitting the edges and planting native grasses along the side. There are many snags to throw along and narrow the path, along with rocks carried by hand as well as some we unlodged and rolled by bar and hand into the road. We work down a hundred feet. Josh, Ken and York spend some time making a rock bar to stem erosion. We pull more hefty snags onto the sides lengthwise along the road to mark the trail. Some parts need nothing at all and this helps keep the look of the trail primitive and unworked.

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