A group of 13 students from the University of Illinois came to Tyler Bend to spend their spring break week (Mar 20-26) helping us. Unfortunately, the Park Service informed us only 3 days before we were to start that we would not be allowed to work on new trail in the gap between Red Bluff & South Maumee Roads. Instead, we all spent 3 days in the Ponca Wilderness area learning to use cross cut saws to clear downed trees from some of the trails there.
Day 1 we covered most of the Bench Trail east of Hemmed-In-Hollow. On day 2 we hiked down to the falls at Hemmed-In-Hollow and cleared trees during the hike out. Day 3 was their off day and they spent it at Blanchard Springs. Day 4 we finished the western part of the Bench Trail and part of Sneed’s Creek Trail. Day 5 we finally got out onto our hiking trail. We cleared a lot of debris from the Dec ’15 flood and rebuilt a section of trail a few miles downstream of Tyler Bend (near Boone Hollow). It was a good way to end the week – they finally had the opportunity to see a proper hiking trail after spending so much time on those horrible old horse trails in the Ponca Wilderness.
The week of Mar 27-Apr 2 was “Alumni Week” – a gathering of veteran trail builders who continue to donate their time and energy to seeing this project to completion. The big project for them was a reroute on the west side of Brush Creek to move the creek crossing about 20′ upstream to avoid an area where the bank was being eroded away.
In the gap between Red Bluff & South Maumee Roads, the private property obstacle remains and other parts of the trail route still haven’t been approved by the NPS archaeologist. Apparently the NPS won’t be doing anything about the latter issue until someone else resolves the former issue for them. It’s not encouraging.