Trip Report: Hiking Trail Maintenance Mount Olympus trail!!

Hiking Trail Maintenance Mount Olympus trail!!
By Kyle Williams
HIKE 09/11/2021 NTD

Earlier this year the WMC officially "adopted" the Mt Olympus Trail. The club's relationship with the trail and the parking lot go back many years. For the last several years, the club had already "adopted" the garbage cans in the parking lot. A team of dedicated clubbers known affectionately as the "Trash Angels" visit the parking a few times a week and empty the always-overflowing trash cans. (I admit I don't really know the history of that project, why the trash was not being picked up by the county or the Forest Service, but for whatever reason, the task has been handled by the Club! Maybe someone more familiar with that effort can chime in and tell us! )

Anyway, on September 11, we teamed up with the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation trail team and did repair work on the trail. If you have hiked the Oly trail in the last several years, you know that the lower portion just out of the parking lot is a real mess. It is very steep, there are several very eroded log and rock steps that are collapsed (or collapsing) and it is very difficult and treacherous walking. I think there is a plan in the works to reroute that section to the area north of Petes Rock, but the work we did this day did not address any of those problems. That is a much bigger effort for another day, another season.

We hiked up the trail past the Bonneville Shoreline trail junction, and worked mostly at closing off renegade trails made by hikers cutting the switchbacks. The hillside is very steep, and cutting through between the switchbacks results in serious erosion and damage. The renegade trails are closed off with a process known as "junking in" the trail. We scoured the forest for dead trees that we would drag over and place in the trails to discourage traffic. It takes a lot of dead trees to close of these trails, and it was a big effort. There also a few sections where erosion had made the trail tread slide down and be very steep sloping down-slope. We used trail digging tools like the Pulaski hoe, and the McCleod hoe to dig the trail into the hillside to level it out, and reinforce it with rocks to prevent further collapse.

There is always a lot of hiking traffic on this trail, and this day there was more than usual because Big Cottonwood canyon was closed because of a marathon race. Whenever hikers approached the work area we would holler "HIKERS!!" and we all paused swinging our tools while they walked past to avoid bloodshed and mayhem. This slowed us down quite a it. The hikers that went by all seemed quite appreciative of the work we were doing, and we tried to mention to them who we were, and how they could get involved themselves.

After such a long hot summer, we were very glad that this day was a bit cooler . In fact, a few good rain squalls blew through during the day and soaked us and the trail good, so it was not so hot, and easier to dig.

A special shout-out to the good folks at the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation who sponsored this work day. They are a non profit organization that focuses on "Supporting the Environment of the Cottonwood Canyons Through Stewardship and Education". They raise funds to support several full-time employees to work on building and maintaining trails in the Wasatch! Several of them were working with us on this day. If you are not able to come help physically to work on the trails, you may consider donating to this group so they can hire more people to do the work! They also sponsor a huge Wildflower Festival in the canyons each year. Visit their website to learn more, and to register for the events.

Huge thanks to the clubbers who helped on this project: Craig Payne, John Kozloski, Steve Parks, Dennis Goreham, Beth Allen, Tony Zimmer, Kyle Williams

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