Pikes Peak Revegetation, Colorado
- Work to address sedimentation and erosion caused by storm-water runoff from the Pikes Peak Highway
- Enjoy a hike or relax around camp on your day off
- Project tools and instruction
- Campsite and meals
|Dates||Jun 15–21, 2014|
This trip is a joint venture project between the Sierra Club and the Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI). Severy Creek Basin, the site where you will be camping and working, is located at approximately 10,000 feet on America’s Mountain, Pikes Peak. The area offers outstanding opportunities for camping, backpacking, fishing, and hiking. The Peak provides a full range of climbing challenges, from the walk-up route up Barr Trail to the difficult and exposed class-5 climbs situated near the Bottomless Pit. Pikes Peak has the highest vertical relief of any mountain in Colorado, covering 7,400 feet from the base in Manitou Springs to the summit.
As the most visited mountain in the country, Pikes Peak has long been a destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The Peak is one of the principal landmarks in the western United States and provided inspiration for the song "America the Beautiful." The Peak is presently the second most visited mountain in the world after Japan's Mount Fuji. Fifteen thousand hikers climb the peak each year and more than 300,000 visitors arrive at the summit via the Pikes Peak Highway, a 19-mile toll road, operated year-round by the City of Colorado Springs. Pikes Peak is also one of the most important natural areas in the region. The mountain provides critical habitat for a wide range of native flora and fauna, including populations of the federally listed Colorado greenback cutthroat trout.
The Severy Creek Basin, located on the northeastern flank of Pikes Peak, has been classified by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program as being within an area of very high biodiversity significance with many rare or imperiled plants, plant communities, and animals. The Severy Creek Fen, found within the Severy Creek Basin, is the largest fen on Pikes Peak. Fens are generally more nutrient rich than typical wetlands due to the mineral-rich surface water and/or groundwater feeding the fen. The increased nutrients in fens allow for a greater variety of plants to become established. Fens are also extremely rich in organic peat matter. Fens in the Southern Rocky Mountains can have a peat thickness of 3 feet to more than 12 feet. This is incredible when you consider that on average, it takes 1,000 years for 5 inches of peat to develop! The Severy Creek fen has peat deposits up to 4.5 feet deep. A sample of peat from the bottom of the fen was carbon dated and it showed the Severy Creek fen is almost 6,300 years old!
Unfortunately, the Severy Creek Basin has been highly disturbed by both natural and human-caused events that threaten the future of the fen. Landslides have buried portions of the wetlands and past fires have caused sediment debris flows into the wetland area. However, the most immediate threat to the fen's biological diversity is from the erosion and transport of sediments that have occurred in the area since the early 20th century. This is primarily due to the construction and maintenance of the Pikes Peak Highway in the Severy Creek drainage. Past practices of directing stormwater runoff into the drainage resulted in the formation of several large gullies over one-half mile long. The gullies have contributed to the deposition of more than 1 million cubic feet of sediment in the wetland area. If piled up, the sediment would form a cone 65 feet high with a radius of 131 feet!
During the summer of 2012, work was completed that will help stabilize and mitigate erosion and sedimentation impacts in the creek’s headwaters. Much of the sediment that had deposited in the wetland was removed and the original wetland soil was exposed. This year’s Sierra Club outing will continue the restoration of these erosional gullies and sediment deposits.
We will meet the afternoon of Saturday, June 14 and get to know each other over a potluck dinner. Our trip starts on Sunday, June 15, when we meet at the RMFI office at 8:30 a.m. and ride for one hour to reach our trailhead on the Pikes Peak Highway. Carrying our personal gear, we will first hike one mile to our base camp, covering a 1,000-foot elevation change. Then we'll return to the trailhead to carry in tools, food, and equipment. There is a trail for half the distance and the rest is a well-marked cross-county route. We will work Monday and Tuesday, have Wednesday off, and then work again Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, we will hike out all tools, equipment, and personal gear. The hike out may take two trips.
Members from the Sierra Club’s Pikes Peak Group will help us with our off-day activities. Options will include summiting the Peak, visiting archaeological sites, or hiking to some of the significant geologic sites on the mountain. Or you may choose to relax around camp.
The Rocky Mountain Field Institute is headquartered in Colorado Springs, which has four commercial airlines serving its airport. Trip members are responsible for transportation to RMFI on the morning of June 16th. RMFI staff will provide transportation from the office to the trailhead.
Accommodations and Food
The Sierra Club staff will provide meals, beginning with lunch on Sunday and ending with lunch on Saturday. On the evening you arrive, we will have a potluck dinner, so please bring an entrée to share. The Club will provide appetizers and dessert.
We provide well-balanced, nutritious, and filling meals. Some meals will have meat, but there will always be a vegetation option. We have a group commissary, with everyone taking turns in food preparation and after-meal cleanup. Before applying for the trip, people with food allergies should contact the cook to see if accommodations are possible.
This trip is very strenuous. What earns it that designation is working at 10,000 feet, and hiking in and out with a 1,000-foot elevation change over a one-mile cross-country trail. The trip leader encourages you to arrive several days before the trip start and do some day hikes in the area to become acclimatized. The elevation of Colorado Springs is 6,035 feet.
Temperatures can be in the 30s at night and the 70s during the day. Afternoon thunderstorms are likely, with a chance of snow or hail at this elevation.
Equipment and Clothing
The trip leader will send you a detailed equipment list when you register for this trip. Essential items include a tent, warm sleeping bag, sturdy hiking boots, long-sleeved shirts and pants for working, work gloves, and rainproof jacket and pants.
In 2014, America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Sierra Club, various other organizations with a wilderness focus, and the four federal wilderness management agencies are vigorously planning this celebration. The goal of the effort is to assure that a broader public knows about the concept and benefits of wilderness. Sierra Club Outings is a vital part of the celebrations for wilderness.
Notes for Sierra Club Outings
- Carbon Offsets
- Electronic Billing and Forms
- Electronic Devices
- How to Apply for a Trip
- Leader Gratuities
- Liability Release and Assumption of Risk
- Medical Issues
- Non-discrimination Statement
- Participant Approval
- Reservation and Cancellation Policy
- Seller of Travel Disclosure
- Travel Insurance
- Trip Feedback
- Trip Price
- Wilderness Manners