We started out at Hell's Gate and split the two groups up. Justin Lutick and I went east on the Highline towards Myrtle Trail and Chris Thornley and the rest of our volunteers (Jon Roig, John, Kevin, Kristin, Kelly and Chris) all headed back west to Washington Park. They had two chainsaws to clear downed trees and we had a pair of loppers. We cut through swaths of confusing manzanita that now present the Highline Trail as it should be, a trail. It's still very rough, rocky as hell and the elevation profile hasn't changed at all. But at least now it's little less confusing which what you need to go. Those that have done this race in past years will appreciate it. First timers will think, "This is an improvement...???"
A HUGE thank you to Chris Thornley and guy Chris from Agassiz Cutting out of Flagstaff. Chris has been one of the main reasons the trail is even remotely usable in past years. He's blazed the trail back year after year with his chainsaw's, lugging that thing so far into the backcountry and doesn't get nearly enough credit for all the work he does. Justin Lutick is basically a Highline Hobo at this point he spends so much time up there lopping away at manzanita. There isn't a person alive that is more dedicated and passionate about the Highline Trail. He sacrifices a lot of his time to get the trail in shape and still goes out and kills it on race day.
It's rare to get so many people out for trail work on the Highline and even more challenging to find a group as hard working as the ones we had. They had an unbelievable work ethic and helped us get a huge amount of work down in only two days. I can't thank them all enough and really appreciate Chris and Justin for continually getting out there and knocking it back.
They are going back up again THIS weekend the 12th/13th to tackle Fish Hatchery west to Myrtle and vice versa. If you are interested let me know and I can connect you with Justin directly or you can sign up through the Zane Grey website, www.zanegrey50.com.
I uploaded some pictures from the trail work below. I apologize the verticals are showing as horizontal. I can't get it to rotate and starting over is not in the cards tonight...
For the Monster these pictures are of what is Hell's Gate to Myrtle Trail. Mile 57-60 or so. This work we did will make a HUGE impact on runners navigating this section during the night. It also makes marking the course and following the course so much easier as we've eliminated a great deal of the "which one of these five elk trails is actually...THE trail??" feeling. It's pretty evident now which way to go and we've returned the trail back to the original course in several places where overgrowth has naturally forced animals and hikers/runners around large manzanita.
Good talk. See you out there!