Many hikers in Eagle River, and probably Anchorage too, know that Mt. Baldy in Eagle River has some serious erosion occurring on its bald rocky face — or at least the bald rocky face it has become with years of overuse, improper planning and poor erosion prevention. Recently, however, a trail revegetation project has diverted the trail on the front side of the mountain from going straight up.The new route has a number of switchbacks that climb the mountain versus the straight-up approach of the former route. It makes the ascent to Mt. Baldy’s peak longer in distance, but it sure makes climbing a little less strenuous and surely less dangerous, especially when the trail is wet. Hikers will now be able to enjoy better foot traction on the slippery mud formed after the rain and snow melts with the reduced incline.
The switchbacks on the new route will help divert snow run off down the mountain in a less erosive manner, in addition to creating a user-friendly trail. The creation of the new route also made a very minimal impact on the earth and what plants were taken out were replanted over the previous route. The plants will take root and the old path will return to its former natural glory, covering the scar of human use.
The question is, who spearheaded this massive trail revegetation project? There are signs on the way up the mountain that clearly state that the old trail is being re-vegetated, but there’s no indication of what good Samaritan or group actually did the project. The answer is the Student Conservation Association’s AK Corp Team 1, or the Alaska Trail Crew as they refer to themselves on their blog. The group has been working for three weeks on the project.
The group is led by Lesley Seale, who’s from Colorado, where the group had their Corp Member Training at the Colorado Fire Camp for two weeks before arriving in Alaska. The five members come from all over the country with an eagerness to conserve.
According to their posts on the Student Conservation Association’s page and their blog, AK Corp Team 1 began by “cutting up the existing vegetation on the proposed reroutes and preserving them for the planned revegetation of the trail we are bypassing.” They completed cutting out the plants in week two and by week three had cut out the new switchbacks in the trail that were ready for hikers to use by the Fourth of July weekend.