Building Bridges, In More Ways than One

Evergreen Mtn Jan copy.jpg
Dave Schuldt and Peter Partel

Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance received funding from the NFF Matching Awards Program for 2012 projects—including replacing the bridge at Deep Creek. Stacy Karacostas, Communication and Membership Director of Evergreen MTB recaps an impressive day of trail work on the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie Forest as told to her by Graham Turnage, Evergreen’s Backcountry Trails Crew Lead.

Five of us met at the trailhead with light snow falling on a chilly Saturday morning in October – four hardy volunteers and me, the Backcountry Trails Crew Lead from Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. The goal? Replace the old, rotting trail bridge over Deep Creek, located on the White River Trail off HWY 410 near Crystal Mountain on the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.  

The bridge replacement process had actually been started the previous year with the first of the stringer logs being cut and laid near the old bridge. Now it was time to get the new bridge finished… No easy task. 

So we quickly walked the short distance to the old bridge with our tools. Then we gathered ‘round to formulate a plan as plumes of crystallized breath floated white through the air. 

Peeling the new sill logs for the ends and 30 foot long stringers to span the creek was hard work but relatively simple. The tricky part was rigging a highline cable system to "fly" the new, peeled cedar parts into place, and "fly" the old bridge pieces away. Thankfully we had a ringer on our team - Art Truftee.

Art is a wizard at setting up highlines and using cables to make heavy work light. It’s pretty darned impressive watching a couple hundred pound log zoom through the air to its new home across the creek. Especially when the alternative is to hand carry it through the woods!

Cedar decking had already been delivered by the Forest Service. So once we had the stringers in place, all that was needed was a little fine tuning for leveling purposes and we were ready to install the decking. Viola, a bridge is born!

Just in time too…The old bridge was so rotten it wouldn’t have survived the winter snows!  That also made tearing it out a breeze. Then we just had to make sure the new bridge was bedded with rock where it met the earth and tamped into place for a solid foundation.

Huge thanks go out to the intrepid volunteers who gave up their days off in the name of better trails: Art Truftee, Len Francis, Dave Shuldt and Peter Partel. All it took was a weekend of camping in the snow, drinking and eating at the local pub, and sharing energy, experience, random skills, and lots of laughs to make a big difference on a popular trail used by hikers and mountain bikers alike!

The nonprofit Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, the largest mountain biking organization in Washington State, coordinates more than 100 other single and multi-day trail work parties around the state each year. In 2011 Evergreen partnered with public land managers to provide more than 7000 hours of volunteer trail work. 

To learn more about Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance visit http://evergreentmtb.org

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