Event Description:

Looking for a challenging, rewarding, and fun backcountry hiking adventure? We are seeking volunteers to help us pack our summer basecamp into the Willow Lake Basin in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains! The Willow Creek Trail is a steep and strenuous ~5 mile hike up the basin and the location where RMFI will base all of our work crews from mid-June to mid-September. Needless to say, that's a lot of equipment! A team of mules will be packing this gear towards our camp as far as they are able to go, within the last couple last miles to the basin. From that point, volunteers will help us unpack the mules and hike the gear the remaining pitch up.

This effort will help us get set up for a long summer of project work on the Kit Carson-Challenger Ridge Trail Realignment Project. The goal of this multi-year project is to construct a safe and sustainable trail system to the summits of Kit Carson Peak and Challenger Point. Volunteers helping with the pack in will be an important part of this effort and make a lasting impact on this fragile environment that is experiencing increased visitation due to the growing popularity and allure of climbing 14,000 foot peaks.


Monday, June 18: Travel to Willow Creek Trailhead near the town of Crestone, CO and hike up the first couple miles of trail to where we will set up our lower temporary camp. Volunteers traveling from Colorado Springs are welcomed to meet us at the RMFI office to carpool. Volunteers may also choose to meet at the trailhead.

Tuesday-Wednesday, June 19 - 20: On both days after breakfast we will hike up the trail beyond our camp to meet the mule team at the point where they must stop. From there, we will unload the mules and hike the equipment the rest of the way to the basin ourselves. The weighted hike will be under 3 miles and on (mostly) more gradual terrain with some steep exceptions and a creek-crossing. After the drop-off in the basin, we will return down the trail to our temporary camp, enjoy a delicious meal after a good day of hiking, relax, and sleep in the crisp mountain air.

Thursday, June 21: Pack up our lower camp, and head home.


Volunteers and RMFI staff will work out of a basecamp located off the Willow Creek Trail, less than halfway up to the basin. This is a remote backcountry location. Our camp will be fully equipped – all group equipment, including stoves, and kitchen supplies, as well as all meals will be provided by RMFI. RMFI prides itself on providing volunteers with hearty, nutritious, and delicious meals to fuel tough work at high altitude! Participants are expected to help cook and partake in camp chores.


This is a very strenuous program involving lots of hiking at altitude and with heavy loads. Participants must complete the online application which includes questions pertaining to medical history, outdoor experience, and physical conditioning. (See link to apply above.)
Participants must be 18 years of age or older.
No prior experience is necessary. However, participants must be in excellent physical condition and comfortable living, hiking, and doing manual labor at elevation in a remote mountain setting.
Participants are responsible for transportation to and from the Willow Creek Trailhead (Crestone, CO) or the RMFI office (Colorado Springs)

What to Bring: Volunteers must supply their own personal outdoor gear. Loaner tents, sleeping bags, and pads are available upon request, on a first-come first-served basis. Volunteers may be asked to buddy-up in tents to make best use of available space. Volunteers will make use of the RMFI-provided carry-in/carry-out solid waste (WAG) system.


Location Details: Volunteers traveling from Colorado Springs are welcomed to meet us at the RMFI office to carpool. Volunteers may also choose to meet at the trailhead.


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