You never know what to expect. A massive winter was sure to bring obvious carnage and heavy hydrologic impacts to the backcountry, but where it did the most damage was not where we expected. Emerging trails did indeed see some impacts and issues, but not like the roads throughout Gunnison County. Sure, there was some heavy damage done on some trails, but nothing the Crested Butte Conservation Corps (CBCC) and hordes of CB Mountain Bike Association (CBMBA) volunteers have not been able to stay on top of. Granted, we still have a lot of melting to go.
That huge winter has certainly brought a slower start to the season, but as this was written mid-week, there were no more campsites available in the Slate River drainage. The recent end of the ‘June monsoons’ have been quite welcome. With flowers making their way out and more trails emerging, the masses are indeed coming. Just drive east to Denver on a Friday and marvel at the insane amount of traffic – trucks, vans, trailers, and toys – all flocking west to play outside. Now that Kebler is opening, along with CO 133, you can indeed say it’s ‘go time’. You can’t blame folks wanting to get out after a long winter and a slow melting spring, now that we are back to bluebird June days and the beginning of wildflower season.
CBCC crews have been on the ground since mid-May. Sure enough, it’s been nearly all about mitigating the impacts of heavy snow melt. Where the damage was done was not expected. Where there was not damage as expected, is testament to the quality of the trails in place and the maintenance and upkeep that has been a staple of the CBCC, now in its 7th season. 7 years! Just like a baby – it goes by so fast. What is most obvious, to us at least, is how important and needed the CBCC is. Between population growth and Mama Nature always on duty, we’ll always have work to do, and we’re grateful to have the partners and support we do to continue with the biggest CBCC crews to date.
Focusing on drainage, raising tread, ‘hardening’ tread, and mitigating erosion, the early season work is hardly over as new trails continue to emerge from the snow. We are also shifting more to our stewardship roles in the backyard now that camping is in full swing. Designated camping is still a major focus for the CBCC and we’re grateful to continue our long and lasting partnership with the Gunnison Ranger District. New this year – the Gothic drainage will no longer have a designated camping closure from mid-June to mid-August. With the implementation of the designated camping, the mission has been achieved with responsible and sustainable camping in place. So, the District has lifted that restriction, and like the rest of the drainages surrounding Crested Butte, Gothic has designated camping in place the entire season. It’s still first come-first served, but new will be a fee in Gothic (only Gothic) for the designated camping – at $18/night. The Gothic Campground, which did stay open all season, will also require a fee. Besides OBJ Campground (BLM paid/reserved camping) and Cement Creek Campground (first come/paid camping), it’s all still free out there in the drainages immediately surrounding Crested Butte. Also new is a double vaulted toilet out Brush Creek at Tent City. Very welcome – thank you Gunnison Ranger District!
So far, we’ve not found any toilets. This is a good thing! But we are up to 339.2 pounds of trash collected, with the notables of those finds so far a really heavy discarded truck tire, some Nordic skis, discarded campsites, some furniture, and random left behind camping gear. We’ve collected only 4 human poops, and 6 dog poops! That’s good news – better numbers than previous years. CBCC crews have monitored/maintained 83 campsites, and more are just exposing themselves from winter. We’ve maintained/worked on 6.2 miles of trails, we’ve built 100 drainage structures, armored 460 feet of trails, and we’ve cut out 43 trees. Trees also being another surprise; such a huge winter and lots of wind, but not as many trees down as usual. That does not discount the massive amount of individual stewardship, as many locals take to the trails with saws and such to cut downed trees out on their own. We’ve reached 183 people to date, and those are the actual conversations/education provided. The drainage and trail armoring/hardening is the real winner so far this year – makes sense with all that snow – and we’ll have a lot more to do.
We work alongside and in partnership with the US Forest Service/Gunnison Ranger District, the Town of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte, the CB Land Trust, the Bureau of Land Management, and with the many stakeholders and organizations of our great Valley that provide for, manage, conserve and steward those vast public lands. In our seventh season, we have the most energy, both veteran and rookie, that we’ve ever had in our trail and stewardship crews. We’re following the energy and impacts of a massive winter, to do the very best we can to work alongside those partners to get boots on the ground and mitigate those impacts – both natural and human. When you see Grant, Jake, Erik, Alec, Hansen, Riley, Ben, and Nick out there – give them a high five and let them know any other observations you might have seen in regards to trail or stewardship needs. We rely on our community, board, and staff for the eyes and ears out there.
We are funded both privately (donations/membership) and publicly (grants/municipal support/federal contract). CBMBA is in its 40th season – the oldest mountain bike club in the world! We are a trails and stewardship organization, and couldn’t be more proud of our CBCC crews in their 7th season. We keep an up-to-date trail condition page on our site, provide community workdays and events, and have an office and cache at 744 Riverland Drive. We always welcome comments, suggestions, and ideas, and our board meetings are always open to the public. We invite any and all to come out and play in the dirt with us, and we look forward to a stellar 40th season ahead of us! You can find out more on our website (cbmba.org) and can follow us on the social interwebsmediagoogles. Stay tuned for our 40th Anniversary Annual Overnight August 19th/20th, where we’ll not only continue the tradition of the ‘trail work weekend’, but will have the Wailers (yes – THE WAILERS) join us to celebrate in the revelry!