Project complete! From left, Dave Cutler, Skip Birkedal, Wes Scott, Aaron Seandal and Bruce Hillman stand proudly on the new 14-foot span footbridge they just installed over the watercourse by post no. 9 along the Collins Pine Trail.

Hello ‘trail blazers’

From left, Wes Scott, Skip Birkedal and Steve Fleming carry materials in piece-by-piece starting with the first bridge deck beam for the new footbridge over the watercourse along the Collins Pine Trail. Photos submitted

Under the auspices of the Almanor Recreation and Park District, and in concert with community volunteers, students and others, work is proceeding on local trails.

Steve Fleming, the ARPD Trails Committee project manager for the Collins Pine Nature Trail restoration project, noted that as 2018 trail work is winding down as winter nears, “This has been a very productive trail restoration/enhancement season!”

Speaking of his fellow volunteers or “Trail Blazers,” Fleming said, “Everything we’ve accomplished was due to your hard work and support.”

He said they currently have two loops (a total of 3.3 miles) and two fine river-access spurs for all to enjoy.

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As the Collins Pine Trail restoration and enhancement project progressed, it was recognized that one area of the trail needed special attention. A new footbridge was installed over the watercourse by post no. 9, “with a big thank you going to the Lake Almanor Elks for funding this bridge along with the Collins Pine Co. and Builders Supply, which provided guidance, materials and design ideas.”

Before the bridge was placed, visitors either had to jump or do a balancing act on slippery logs to cross the watery area. It became clear that action was needed and a bridge seemed like a good idea, noted Fleming.

He said they referred to the Forest Service trail bridge building guidelines and, after acquiring approval from Collins Pine, went to work.

ARPD trails leader Carlos Espana worked closely with Wes Scott (former Exalted Ruler and current member of the Lake Almanor Elks) to get the project underway.

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Builders Supply of Chester provided materials and suggested ideas on how best to fasten the boards to construct the bridge, said Fleming.

Assembling all the parts and pieces together in one place, construction began in Fleming’s driveway by first pre-drilling the holes, with alignments double-checked and critical assembly joints color-coded for easy reassembly in the forest environment.

On Sept. 26, a team of Elk and ARPD Trail Blazers carried the disassembled bridge piece-by-piece into the forest. Using basic hand tools, the bridge was assembled and finally became a reality.

“Two hours later our team was running back and forth over the 14-foot span,” Fleming shared, “plus jumping up and down on it to be sure our load data was correct and the bridge could hold up under plenty of weight.” Not terribly scientific, he added, but practical; “And thank goodness for the Forest Service manual that provided the necessary information for its successful construction,” adding metaphorically that,

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“Building bridges both literally and socially make Chester a nicer place to live for all of us.”

Once the footings are aligned, Wes Scott, Steve Fleming, Aaron Seandal, Bruce Hillman and Skip Birkedal take a quick break to check out their work and pose for the camera.

There remain a few additional upgrades to install before the first snowfall, Fleming noted, including snow guideposts to direct fun-seekers where to cross.

The new footbridge still needs ramps for a smooth transition to the deck, as well as curb rails along the outer edge of the deck for hand support.

“Charlie Plopper, our sign maker, has completed the last of this year’s directional signs, which will be ready for installation very soon. And a few new posts need to be installed to hang those signs on before the snows,” said Fleming.

A trail map for hikers is scheduled to be upgraded detailing trail features.

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Fleming said stay tuned for a few final work session notifications, recommending that volunteers also dig around in their garages for snowshoes and cross-country skis.

For information on how to volunteer to help in the restoration of the Collins Pine Nature Trail, contact Steve Fleming at 602-885-0132 or email him at [email protected]

Said Fleming, “Take care and again, thanks to all of you for your help and support!”

This deck plank recognizes Lake Almanor Elks for its contribution in providing the funds for the new footbridge. Standing from left: Wes Scott, Skip Birkedal, Dave Cutler (plank engraver) and Bruce Hillman.