December 2015 FOTP Newsletter



Friends of the Peak was founded in 1995 to be an active voice for Pikes Peak.  This year we have been celebrating our 20th birthday.  On June 20 we had a celebratory picnic in North Cheyenne Canyon just above the Starsmore Discovery Center.  On November 14 we celebrated again at our annual dinner at the Garden of the Gods Trading Post.
We value all our volunteers.  Volunteering multiple times takes even more effort, so at the dinner we recognized the 26 volunteers who had worked three or more project days in 2015.  We also presented our annual Volunteer of the Year award to Dan Downs.  Finally, we presented an award to Mary Burger, a key founder, driving force for years, and ongoing inspiration for Friends of the Peak.
For our 20th anniversary, we have three reminiscences -- one on Friends of the Peak and two on Ring the Peak. This newsletter also includes a focus article by our Volunteer of the Year, Dan Downs, a summary of FOTP activities for the year, and the full list of our 2015 volunteers.

FOTP 2015 Volunteer of the Year, by Dan Downs
FOTP Beginnings, by Mary Burger
Ring the Peak Beginnings, by Mary Burger
The Ring the Peak Story, by Jim Strub
FOTP 2015 Summary of the Year, by Carol Beckman
2015 Volunteers
by Dan Downs
     I would like to thank FOTP for honoring me with the Volunteer of the Year award at our annual party.  There are many other volunteers who I feel are equally deserving.  Our Board of Directors should also be congratulated on their tireless efforts and countless hours expended for our organization.  Without these leaders our volunteers would not have this opportunity to serve our community.
   My wife, Denise and I started volunteering with trail groups about nine years ago.  We used our local trails extensively (and still do) on our mountain bikes and decided it was time to give back a little by donating some time building and repairing the trails we love.  While we both worked full time, we could only manage to volunteer a few weekends a year.  Some of the first work we did was with Mary Burger constructing new trails in Red Rock Canyon when it initially opened to the public.  We found the work very rewarding and were "hooked" immediately.  Since we retired, we have been able to spend more time each year on this activity.
   In 2015 I volunteered for over 200 hours and completed crew leader training, all of which I enjoyed immensely.    In addition to improving our trail systems for all users, trail work has many personal benefits.  It is outdoor work in a beautiful environment, it is great exercise, it is personally rewarding, and it provides an increased knowledge of our trail system and environmental stewardship.  However I never foresaw the greatest benefit of volunteering when I began working on trails. That benefit is meeting the many interesting, committed, and friendly people of varied backgrounds and ages with whom I have had the pleasure of working. The camaraderie my wife and I have experienced working with these volunteers is perhaps the best part of this experience. We've made some good friends amongst exceptional people whom we genuinely admire and respect.
   We plan on continuing to work with Friends of the Peak in the years to come as the experience of working with this organization has been truly an exceptional one.

Mary Burger was a key founder and on the FOTP board of directors from the beginning of the organization through 2010 and remained active, leading projects, through 2011.  Mary was president from 1998 through 2007.  Not only did Mary handle all the duties of president, but she also planned and led the volunteer trail projects and took care of the tools.  For the 20th anniversary, Mary wrote her memories of the beginnings of Friends of the Peak.
FOTP -- 
A Group of Friends  
Working to Make a Difference  
   I want to tell you about Friends of the Peak (FOTP). While many people are 'friends', and each have their own perspective of how and why we came to be, I was there at the beginning.  I will give you my version of this history. I cannot give any other. I hope I do not upset anyone if my story does not match their remembrances. Perspective is everything, and this is my perspective.  So let's begin at the beginning:
   I am Mary Burger. I moved to the base of Pikes Peak in 1985 because my job brought me here. I was working as a production manager in a local manufacturing plant. During the course of this history, I transitioned to systems engineering and cybernetics analyst, and then retired. My background is in figuring out how to get things done, and how to organize people to do it. I fell in love with Pikes Peak as soon as I saw it, and all the early years of hiking and exploring it just cemented that feeling.
by Mary Burger
   Where did the idea for a trail around Pikes Peak come from? It did not simply coalesce out of thin air. There had been a movement of concerned citizens advocating for it for over forty years. There had been many public meeting and agency discussions. But, no plan had been developed. There were several versions "on the table". But, as with many great ideas, without a single advocacy group it stagnated.
   During the master planning process the topic of discussion was how to reduce traffic on Barr Trail. Barr Trail was and is over capacity. The proposed solutions included charging for parking, and creating a fee based permit system. Neither proposal was enforceable or palatable to the citizens group during the planning process. So, the circumnavigate Pikes Peak trail and an additional trail to the summit were proposed to divert traffic from the overused Barr Trail, and both solutions made it into the Master Plan.
Jim Strub is a long-time volunteer with Friends of the Peak and an avid advocate for Pikes Peak.  From 1989  to 1995  he served on City Council's Pikes Peak Highway Advisory Commission.  He then served on the North Slope Watershed Committee and Citizens Advisory Group of the Pikes Peak Multi-Use Plan, from which he became involved in the Ring the Peak Trail from its inception in 1999.  He wrote the following story for the 20th anniversary of FOTP.

   The concept of a trail looping around the Pikes Peak massif had been in many minds for a long time. The concept became a civic-supported formal recommendation as a result of the Pikes Peak Multi-Use Plan -- a large scale, year-long planning effort jointly sponsored by Colorado Springs Utilities and the USFS Pikes Peak Ranger District. Vic Eklund (CSU) and Frank Landis (USFS) managed it, with Design Workshop doing the administration. The 44MB Report is online.
   A large number of citizens participated in the study. They were designated the Citizens Advisory Group. The PPMUP recommended a 60-to-70 mile loop trail around Pikes Peak. The conceptual, generalized route of the loop was projected primarily over existing trails and, if necessary, roads, except in the southwest segment where it was a generalized route through the area of the Bison Reservoirs. It included access points, "portals." Study participants included representatives from virtually every possible stakeholder in the area.
You can tell it's the end of the day
by Carol Beckman
   Friends of the Peak had a great project season thanks to our volunteers and project partners.  We had 27 project days.  164 individuals volunteered, many volunteering more than once, for a total of 365 volunteer days (yes, one for every day of the year).
   2015 continued work on parts of Barr Trail that are usually difficult to maintain, with support from the Pikes Peak Cog Railway and Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon (big thank you to both).  The Cog provided support for four project days, transporting tools and volunteers up to Mountain View and back down.  The projects were logistically interesting, with the tools going up and coming back down separately from the volunteers.  The work train crew transported the tools, often even on a different day.  With the Cog's support, the volunteers had a much shorter hike to Barr Camp, the 1.5 miles from Mountain View.  They were able to improve drainage on Barr Trail for a mile or so below Barr Camp and a mile or so above.  Barr Camp supported the annual project with AdAmAn, an overnight project this year, providing their traditional spaghetti and garlic bread dinner Saturday evening and Pikes Peak Power Pancakes Sunday morning.  The Ascent and Marathon organizers transported volunteers and tools up Longs Ranch Road to Barr Trail for two projects.  Volunteers were able to start 3 miles up Barr Trail, without walking or carrying tools for those 3 miles, and clear corridor, remove roots and rocks from the trail, and provide a more walkable and runnable surface for close to 2 miles of trail above the turn one day, and about 1 1/2 mile of trail below the turn on another day.  Another day, starting from the trailhead, volunteers removed the hazards in the first 1 1/2 miles of trail.  On yet another project starting from the trailhead, volunteers worked on the fence along Barr Trail, replanting fence posts that had come out of the ground or were very wobbly, replacing rotted posts as needed.
   The northwest route to the summit, from the Crags area through Devil's Playground, saw quite a bit of activity, also.  An enthusiastic group of volunteers from Colorado College backpacked in two miles, carrying tools, to work the next two days to improve the trail.  They created many robust drains to direct water off the trail to reduce erosion along about a mile of trail.  The work was difficult in spots, requiring moving much dirt, where the trail is ten feet or so wide.  The next day, the group hiked the trail they had helped improve.  Everyone in the group reached the summit.  Friends of the Peak also had a regular Saturday project working on two sections not far below the summit boulder field.  One area had many switchback cuts.  Volunteers clarified the trail and worked to close the switchback cuts.  In another area, the bank above the trail had collapsed on the trail.  The volunteers rebuilt the trail in that section.  Also, Friends of the Peak installed a trail counter, provided by Forest Service, to help determine how many people are using this increasingly popular route to the summit.  The counter does not distinguish between uphill and downhill traffic, and of course cannot tell if people go just one way and get a ride or whether they make it to the summit or turn around before that.  The counter was out from June 4 to October 8, and counted a total of 13,678 people.  As you know if you've hiked this trail, or were one of the volunteers helping improve it, the trail has some sections that go up too steeply and are eroding badly, and also braiding as people walk on the tundra rather than in the loose, rocky gully.  Friends of the Peak is working with the Forest Service's 14er specialist to address the erosion problems long-term by rerouting the trail to be more sustainable.  The process takes some time.  This year, Paul Mead worked with the 14er specialist to find a workable route.  The approval process could start next year.
   We had one project on the Elk Park Knoll Trail this year.  Volunteers widened a narrow section of trail across a gully, and also improved drainage on the trail near the trailhead.
   Projects on both Elk Park Knoll Trail and the upper portion of the Devil's Playground Trail are possible because of the support from Pikes Peak--America's Mountain, perhaps better known as the people who manage the Pikes Peak Highway.  The Pikes Peak Highway has been a great supporter of Friends of the Peak through the years, waiving fees for volunteers on projects.  Maintaining these trails with one-day volunteer projects just wouldn't be feasible without highway access.
   Friends of the Peak had not had projects on North Slope since building the Crystal connector in 2003.  This year, volunteers helped mitigate erosion problems on three trails near North Catamount Reservoir, Mackinaw Trail, Mule Deer Trail near Blue River, and Limber Pine Trail.  Volunteers installed drains to move water off the trails and extended the end of one trail to improve the slope.  They also cleared corridor as needed, trimming back overgrown branches.
   Friends of the Peak built the Raspberry connector for Ring the Peak, on the west side of the Peak, in 2003 and 2004.  The trail is generally holding up well, but two switchbacks near the trailhead were breaking down.  Volunteers widened and leveled the corners and built rock walls to support the switchbacks.  Farther from the trailhead, the volunteers worked on erosion problems and rebuilt short sections of trail.
   Four Thursday projects worked on Seven Bridges Trail, to stabilize the slope to the scree field, which just keeps crumbling, and also worked on drainage and erosion issues.  In addition, on two more project days, groups from Colorado College helped on Seven Bridges Trail.
   Four more Thursday projects worked on Saint Mary's Falls Trail, addressing drainage and erosion.  Friends of the Peak's 20th anniversary project was on Saint Mary's Falls Trail, working to support the trail where erosion had narrowed the trail to almost nothing.
   With an invitation from Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Friends of the Peak returned to its roots during its 20th anniversary year. RMFI has been working for years to restore damage from extensive sediment runoff from Pikes Peak Highway, from the years before the Highway was paved and drainage was improved.  RMFI invited Friends of the Peak to join up on a project to collect native seed from plants in the area and spread them around the deposits of sediment to help stabilize and restore the area.
   Friends of the Peak held a project removing toadflax, a noxious weed, in Garden of the Gods in 2015.  A toadflax removal project was scheduled for Red Rock Canyon Open Space in 2014, but had to be canceled.  The 2015 toadflax removal project was also originally scheduled for Red Rock, but had to move when extensive storm damage closed Red Rock open space.  The toadflax in Red Rock is just very tenacious.
   Educational efforts continued, with Friends of the Peak offering Leave No Trace classes and participating with Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Trails and Open Space Coalition, Colorado Springs Parks and Rec, and Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado on Pikes Peak regional crew leader training.
   In addition to projects, Friends of the Peak is also involved in trail issues and planning.
   Manitou Springs is currently engaged in producing a master plan for its parks, open space, and trails.  We're offering our comments and ideas.  You are also welcome to participate, with a few more public meetings still scheduled.
   Planning for a new summit complex, including a new summit house, on Pikes Peak is also underway.  Friends of the Peak is participating in the summit advocacy group and is also providing comments to the managing entities, U.S. Forest Service and Pikes Peak--America's Mountain, part of Colorado Springs Parks and Rec.
   The Bear Creek watershed process, ongoing for years, is almost completed.  This year, Colorado Springs Utilities gave its land in Jones Park to El Paso County.  El Paso County agreed to work with U.S. Forest Service, which is managing the environmental assessment.  The draft decision came out this past summer.  Forest Service responded to all the objections and is completing the final consultations with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and with the State Historic Preservation Office.  Once that is complete, they should issue a final decision.
   El Paso County completed the master plan for the Ute Pass Regional Trail.  The Ute trail has a gap in the middle.  El Paso County Parks, with a consultant, obtained public input at several meetings and talked with stakeholders.  They devised possible routes and evaluated them all, and, considering many factors, decided on the most feasible route.  El Paso County Commissioners approved the route.  Implementation now is a matter of funding.
   As you can see, Friends of the Peak had a busy year, thanks to all our volunteers and the organizations that support us.
Thank you to all who volunteered in 2015!
Raghuv Adhepalli
Dave Artusi
Koki Atcheson
Beckie Avera
William Baldwin
Amauy Bargion
Christopher Bass
Carol Beckman
Lynn Bennett
Steve Bennett
Devin Bittner
Jacob Bittner
Keith Bittner
Ivy Boomershine
Benno Bosch
Steve Bremner
Ned Brush
Bob Bunch
Bryan Burchett
Gavin Burchett
Valerie Burchett
Mary Burger
Katie Butler
Cassidy Cam
Ross Carlson
Tyler Carroll
Robby Castle
Gus Catlin
Jack Chaffin
Esther Chan
Calum Clark
William Clark
Cylan Compton
Teddy Corwin
Michael Cotter
Bryna Coyle
Katherin Craft-Lawson
Jim Davies
Scott Davis
Emmett deMaynadier
Edward Dent
Jason Doedderlein
Madison Doerre
Charles Donachy
Daniel Downs
Denise Downs
Paul Doyle
Rachel Draheim
Steve Driska
Damon Dworak
Manuel Eguren
John Etzel
Cheryl Evans
Andrew Farny
Chuck Fogleman
Cliford Francis
Mark Freeland
Ellie Gilbertson
Michael Greenberger
Pavla Hajek
Rebekka Hannula
Teri Harper
Jessica Hays
Darlene Heimbuch
Emma Herrick
Larry Hilliard
William Hilton
Charris Howard
Eric Hunter
Kat Jacaruso
Susan Jarvis-Weber
Chris Jaynes
Steve Jennings
James Jones
Ken Jones
Sam Jones
Payton Katich
Andrew Kirvin-Quamme
Jim Klever
Tim Kranz
Chaz Lalonde
Payton Landes
Barb Langer
Owen Langer
Jay Langford
Joshua Lave
Thomas Lear
George Lee
Dawn Lervik
Ling Li
Patrick Martin
Joel Marx
Skyler Matthews
Chris Mattingly
Marc McClure
Randal McGilchrist
Mike McTigue
Paul Mead
Ellie Meyer
Gary Michels
Neale Minch
Jeff Mohrmann
Chelsea Moore
Hailey Morgan
Tom Mowle
Jim Mullen
Nicolai Nielsen
Larry Norfleet
Sean O'Donnell
Annabelle O'Neill
Sophia Padden
Mateo Parsons
Finley Petit
Jodie Petit
Nakita Petrella-Jones
Hoang Pham
Spencer Quinlan
Harrison Raine
Jack Ramsey
Gavin Ratliff
Michael Reeder
Morgan Richardson
Justin Ricks
Lee Rittenmeyer
Ryan Robles
Geoffrey Rutecki
Donald Sanborn
Jessica Savage
Glenn Scadden
Mike Scott
John Sedmak
Kevin Shaw
Barry Shlomov
Katherine Sievers
Matthew Sievers
Sophia Skelly
John Skinner
Paul Smith
Jaci Sommers
Robert Sommers
Joyce Soules
Greg Speights
Dan Stabler
Heather Stalters
Alex Sullivan
Jenny Sullivan
Eric Swab
Jason Swaim
Jack Swanson
Lindsay Templin
Wes Thurman
Bill Tongue
Sarah Troemel
Lisa Unger
Natalie Unger
Brian VanValkenburg
Dean Waits
Darrell Weaver
Daniel Wegert
Paula Wegert
Walter Wininger
Ethan Wright
Jenny Yoo
Michael Young

Contact us:
Phone: 719-527-1384      Email:     Web:

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