Trail Mix wraps up this season's work

Group begins heavy construction on new trail behind Dzantik'i Heeni

Posted: Sunday, October 05, 2003

The young trail above Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School was easy to find just past the school.

Trail Mix foreman Colby Shibler, with his three crewmen, was tackling the Dzantik'i Heeni project with an excavator. Trail Mix is a nonprofit organization that helps maintain trails in Juneau.

The Dzantik'i Heeni trail will be used by students and teachers, mainly for educational purposes, Shibler said.

Besides brushing the beach accesses and some of the state park trails, Trail Mix has worked on Montana Creek Trail, Perseverance Trail, the Boy Scout Trail, Mount Roberts Trail, and a trail off of Lena Loop this year.

Trail Mix also helped in June with the Juneau Police Department Wetlands Enhancement Project, which included building a small park and trail near police headquarters in the Lemon Creek area.

Standing on the light gray rock of the immature trail behind Dzantik'i Heeni, Shibler slightly raised his voice to speak over the sound of machinery, which echoed off the trees.

"We put a shot rock base down to make a nice solid surface for the capping material, which is a nice smooth material," he said.

"It sets up like pavement, because there's a lot of fine material in it, and then the water gets on it and sucks it all down so it sets up kind of hard."

Shibler manages the various projects Trail Mix takes on during the season. Trail Mix has about 20 crew people working for it during the peak work, he said.

"The season is usually April until whenever the weather gets to bad," he said.

"We do a lot of the beach accesses, where there is the wooden sign with the little yellow squiggly guy, the seagulls and the water in front," he said.

The Perseverance Trail was among Trail Mix's major projects. Five years ago, Trail Mix began maintaining the Red Mill Trail, a spur off of Perseverance Trail, when the bridge over Granite Creek and the last two-thirds of a mile of the Perseverance Trail was destroyed in a flood. Trail Mix completed the new trail this spring as well as a new bridge at Lurvey Creek.

"We replaced the old bridge that was washed away and spruced up the trail," Shibler said. "We brought back what had been lost."

Trail Mix renovations also helped the Boy Scout Trail, a project began last year.

"That trail was already there, but it was just a little foot trail and a lot of it was just washed out and just a rocky, muddy mess," Shibler said.

The Boy Scout Trail was also widened to make it accessible for Boy Scouts who use wheelchairs.

Shibler said the beach access renovations at Sunshine Cove took Trail Mix two or three days.

"We wanted to make it easier for kayakers to get their kayaks down to the beach," he said.

At Mount Roberts, Trail Mix crew members built railings and are now replacing steps on the trail.

Trail Mix rebuilt a trail off of Lena Loop Road this year. Originally, there was only a sign and hardly a trail.

"That was a beach access out there that kind of had gotten lost," Shibler said. "It's a neat little access down on the beach. We built a turnpike out there."

A turnpike consists of two skinned logs running parallel to each other with braces placed between them. The log trail is filled with gravel, and wood braces hold the gravel in.

In June, Trail Mix joined the city and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to turn the gravel pit behind police headquarters into a park for education and recreational purposes.

"The JPD Wetlands Enhancement Project was a rehabilitation project to study how things come back in the rehabilitated wetlands," Shibler said.

As Trail Mix's season wraps up, projects wind down and crew members dwindle. Shibler and few others stick around to do minor brush work during the winter, mostly on trails where cross-country skiing is prevalent.

But for now, snow begins to cap the mountain tops, and the nippy September air smells like winter has its foot in the door. Shibler and his crew work away above Dzantik'i Heeni, clearing a trail until it is time to hibernate.

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