This is sounding like a broken record. This past weekend GORC members helped with the cleanup of the Ozark Trail after the May 8th storms which downed an estimated 3000 trees, and left nearly 80 miles of trail closed. The Ozark Trail Association has come up with a plan which should have the trail from Onondaga Cave at the beginning of the Courtois section, to Barton Fen, midway on the Middle Fork Section, and everything in between, including the Council Bluff Lake area, open by the end of June. These are some of the most popular sections of the trail for mountain bikers, so a great deal of thanks is due to the OTA, and particularly its sawyers for all of the hard work.
While our role was fairly small in comparison, GORC decided to say thanks by doing something, rather than just talking or typing. On May 21st, Glenn Meyer and Kent Kopplin, both GORC members and OTA sawyers, cleared over 20 trees over the 1.5 mile stretch between Council Bluff Lake and Hwy DD. Matt Hayes, Lisa Troehler, John Twist, Bryan Adams, Jeff Ripplemeyer, and myself then cleared the remaining 12 miles of trail between DD and Hazel Creek of about 30 trees. Now 50 trees may not be a lot in comparison to sections that may have as many as 50-100 blowdowns per mile, but we see it as allowing other crews to concentrate on areas which sustained heavier damage, rather than having to worry about a longer, more spread out section like North Trace which wasn't hit nearly as hard.
This wasn't one of the easiest sawyer runs by any means. 30 trees has been a typical number for recent visits, but this time, in addition to the usual dead or sick ones, there was a mix of older, mature trees that were toppled at the roots, and trees which were carried on to the trail by the tremendous water that was rushing through Trace Creek.
Hopefully, this terrible storm will serve some useful purpose in helping people who use the Ozark Trail understand just how much time people actually volunteer to keep such a valuable resource available for use by all. Without them, this trail might have been as good as closed for many years. In fact, parts of it may still be closed for up to a year. Show your appreciation by doing something. Get involved with the OTA, or GORC and help build new trails and keep our current ones open, and in great shape.