The Greenway Crews are at it again! Work on the new Mailbox Peak Trail is in full swing for its second season. The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust over last summer and this summer is constructing a new trail up Mailbox Peak in the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River Valley. The old trail, an informal path that has gradually worn into the ridge, is badly eroding and extremely steep. The new trail will double the distance of the hike from two and half to five miles, but make the ascent much more bearable. Decreasing the slope of the trail also reduces the risk of water erosion on the trail and diminishes the need for maintenance and reconstruction down the line.
In May and June, crews from the Washington Conservation Corps spent time finishing up the lower sections of the route by reinforcing switchbacks with stone walls and re-vegetating sides to keep the dirt edges from eroding.
On June 1st, National Trails Day, several volunteers joined the effort to stock the crew’s high elevation base camp for the summer. The group of hikers carried 600 pounds of supplies, everything from lentils and rice to pick-mattocks and rigging gear, up 3000 vertical feet!
Since the first of June, two Greenway crews with four crew members each have been working out of the base camp on alternating shifts. Between the two groups, they will be building trail almost every day of the summer, hoping to dig out 100 feet of new tread every day.
The general order of operations in hand building a trail on a slope is to first remove debris and trees in the chosen route, then use hand tools to cut back the slope, creating a flat surface for the path. Exposed dirt surfaces that result from the digging and are in danger of eroding are then covered and re-vegetated. Their goal is to progress down the mountain from camp, following the flagged route to the highest point that construction reached last year. From June 27th to July 4th the crews built 600 feet of trail!