With the busy summer season behind us, crews in Rocky Mountain National Park are getting down to some care-taking projects in the park, ranging from trail repairs to wrapping up a project to rebuild a patrol cabin that was leveled by an avalanche back in 2003.
Four of the projects require the use of a helicopter, so don't be surprised if you see whirlybirds flitting about the park this week. Projects requiring this aerial support include:
* Transporting a mini-excavator into and out of the Lulu City wetlands to dig between 50 and 100 soil pits to assess the depth and particle sizes of sediments deposited by the 2003 Grand Ditch Breach;
* Importing trail tread material to the North Inlet Trail above treeline to finish a multi-year effort to reconstruct the trail from the July backcountry campsite area to near the Flattop Mountain Junction;
* Transporting materials to replace a bridge on the Little Yellowstone Trail, and;
* Demobilizing from the reconstruction of the patrol cabin near Chasm Lake that was destroyed by an avalanche in 2003.
No trails are being closed during these projects, according to park officials. While the helicopter is flying over work areas, park staff may temporarily delay hikers. The Colorado River Trailhead parking area will be closed for two days during the Lulu City project for staging of materials. This project could be wrapping up today, September 15, weather and resources permitting. The Timber Lake Trailhead parking area across the road will remain open.
Hazard tree mitigation is scheduled to take place this week near the North Inlet Trailhead. During the project the access road to the North Inlet Trail as well as the lower and upper parking areas will be closed. Temporary work stoppages can occur, on occasion, to allow hikers through. However, vehicles will not be allowed.
The Alpine Ridge Trail, commonly referred to as Huffer Hill, across from the Alpine Visitor Center, is closed through next year for major reconstruction, according to park officials. By removing the old trail structure this fall, trail crews can get a head start on the reconstruction for next summer. This popular trail climbs over 200 feet, has steep grades, and provides incredible views. As the accompanying photo shows, the condition of the trail has significantly deteriorated resulting in erosion around the log steps and un-level stepping surfaces, contributing to safety concerns and resource impacts to the tundra.