Wild Arizona’s Wild Stew Field Crew, Chiricahua Wilderness Trail Crew volunteers, and Chiricahua Regional Council board members join together to begin the South Fork Trail Restoration project!

Written by Taylour Stephens, Wild Stew Field Crew Member.

Wild Arizona is happy to announce that our second hitch was a major success! We had two new members join our Wild Stew Field Crew, and we completed treadwork, brushing, and log cutting along the Ida Peak and South Fork trails in the Chiricahua Mountains. On the Ida Peak trail, we worked ⅔ mile of the worst sections by cutting 100 logs, brushing, and retreading. A majority of our work involved several switchbacks that we redefined with rock walls. After relocating to the South Fork trail, we brushed out 6 of 7 trail reroute corridors along a two mile section in preparation for future tread construction as part of our major restoration project later this year in partnership with the Chiricahua Regional Council and Coronado National Forest. Volunteers from the Chiricahua Wilderness Trail Crew worked alongside us and brushed the remaining parts of the trail as well as cut over 60 logs.

Let us introduce the latest person to join the Wild Stew Field Crew, Kyle Arsenault! Kyle brings experience from the Marine Corps and values any opportunity to give back to the community through volunteering and working for Wild Arizona. We were also joined by Summer Doss, Wild Arizona’s Media/Marketing Associate. Summer has a background in Communication Arts and has a keen eye for creating unique and intriguing content for Wild Arizona’s social media platforms, and is joining us in the field from time to time in the coming months to work alongside us and get a better understanding of what we do on the ground. Thank you both for contributing your own unique skills which really helped to round out our team dynamic.

We had a joyful gathering in Portal where the Chiricahua Wilderness Trail Crew joined the Wild Stew Field Crew in a chili cookoff followed by a pancake breakfast the next morning. Dirk Sigler, a long-time local volunteer and Chiricahua Regional Council board member, made his infamous elderberry syrup which was a tasty edition to the heavenly fluffiness of the pancakes. We always appreciate a hearty meal especially after all of our hard work and food rationing in the backcountry. Sometimes we even resort to eating some unconventional things, as seen in the photo of Dexter Kopas taking a hefty bite out of tree bark!

During our work in the wilderness, we experience an abundance of wildlife diversity everyday. One sunny afternoon, after a crisp morning rain, our crew was having lunch when suddenly an explosion of avian diversity happened upon us. We heard over 20 species and even had the opportunity to cast our gaze on a few individuals as well. A crew favorite was the cloud of cute and curious Bushtits (Psaltriparus minimus). They surrounded us while vocalizing their various calls and bouncing to and fro from bush to bush. One of our crew members managed to capture a recording of this glorious event, which can be heard and seen in the video above. Audio recording software allows us to see the shape, frequency, and length of each bird’s song and call.

Towards the end of an eventful hitch, we were hit with an unexpected hail and rain storm. After we quickly set up a tarp shelter, we all gazed in wonder at the dime sized chunks of hail; some of us munching on the cold and crunchy snacks. However, this didn’t tear our morale down and as you can see, we still had an absolute blast!

Lucky Leaning Log on Ida Peak Trail. Photo by Taylour Stephens.