RWM and Friends of the M Trail co-sponsored a work day on the M Trail on Oct 22nd. About 25 people attended and made a full day of the event while we installed a new stair structure on the 6th switchback. We also brushed over erosive side trails, pulled knapweed and planted plugs of native wildflowers and grasses.
Our attendees were UM students, volunteers from the community (and as far away as Whitefish), local Cub Scouts and parents, and of course RWM folks looking for the hardcore cardio/upper body workout! Under the supervision of UM senior Jon Paulson, the heavy timbers and half ton of gravel carried up the hill were transformed into a sturdy and attractive non-eroding staircase. This is the most recent of about 7 total step structures that have been built on the M Trail through cooperation with UM Natural Areas Program, Friends of the M Trail, UM Student Guild of Society for Ecological Restoration and RWM.
The stair structures are necessary to slow down the rapid erosion taking place at the switchbacks under the feet of up to 1000 hikers EACH DAY. It takes a village to maintain a mountain- especially one that is so heavily loved as Mt Sentinel.
We were pretty bold about asking passersby to carry things up the trail! About 50 or more good natured hikers agreed to carry a bucket of gravel up to the 6th switchback. That’s just the kind of community we live it: everyone’s happy to lend a hand.
Pizza lunch was provided by RWM and the Pizza Pipeline. Great Harvest Bread also donated a huge bag of cinnamon bread to get us going early in the morning. The weather was beautiful, the project successful, and we expect our efforts contributed to many more decades of happy M Trail running for all! See you other there next time (April 2012).
~Marilyn Marler, UM Natural Areas Specialist