Texas Trail Tamers

News

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  • Monday, July 18, 2022 10:39 AM | Scott Newsom

    Howdy folks,

    I just wanted to let y'all know I have enjoyed my time a president of the Trail Tamers. I took the reigns just before the start of the pandemic and I feel pretty good about keeping the organization afloat though a very difficult time. I have some health issues that will be keeping me off of the trails for the foreseeable future - nothing too serious, knee replacements and another routine surgery for a hernia. Juggling these issues along with other family and work commitments means I just don't have the time or physical capability to give this job what it needs.  Luckily, our past president is ready to set up and lean the organization again. Thank you all for the support you showed me during my term and thank you for giving me to opportunity to serve. 

    Happy Trails,

    Scott Newsom

  • Saturday, March 12, 2022 12:59 PM | Scott Newsom

    Dear Trail Tamers,

    I recently had the opportunity to lead a project for the Trail Tamers at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center in Fort Davis. This is a special place and a special organization for me and being able to help them meant more to me than you will know. One of the great benefits of leading trips for the Trail Tamers is being able to choose where you want to work and the kind of work you do. This trip allowed me to lead the design and construction of a trail from start to finish for the first time. I love being able to do that kind of project and those opportunities are not frequent on lands that allow public access. This project was heavy on trail design and construction skills. Not all projects have the same demands though. The CTTT does a variety of projects ranging from ½ day local trail maintenance projects and weekend trips within an easy day’s drive of Central Texas to the week-long projects we do in West Texas quite often.  We have done projects further afield in the past and may again in the future. Sometimes we have large groups like we did Monday, March 7th (17 working crew members at the CDNC) to much smaller groups. Sometimes we cook, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we camp, other times we stay in cabins, or some kind of hybrid. Sometimes we return to the same lands repeatedly and sometimes our projects are one-off jobs. Sometimes the land manager provides the trail crew leader, sometimes we provide that leadership. The variation in potential projects is virtually limitless.

    As a project leader you get to choose. The way the Trail Tamers are organized, you will never have to lead a trip you don’t want to lead or take on a role you are not ready for.  You won’t have a top heavy leadership telling you what to do. What you will have is support, (so long as you give us adequate time to prepare). The primary limiting factor on new growth for this organization is availability of project leaders and crew leaders. Having only a few active project leaders limits how many projects we can take on and that limits how many new members we can sign up.

    The main jobs of a project leader are to 1) plan the project, 2) enter that information into the online project signup software (which is pretty easy), 3) make sure you have tools available and transport those tools to the worksite, 4) teach safety skills, 5) monitor crews and ensure the work meets design specs, 6) be sure your crew is safe, fed and well hydrated. In times past when we had more project and crew leaders available for these projects, these tasks were shared between leadership crews. It is my most fervent wish that we have enough members step up to lead and co-lead projects that we can get back to having each project led by a crew instead one project leader taking on the majority of the work. If you are concerned about the job of project leader being too big, I highly recommend working with a friend or a group of friends to spread out the work, and all of you should consider me your friend! Kevin is also happy to help co-lead projects, and we are both available to help you learn how to lead projects.

    Cooking and feeding the crew and cleaning up afterwards is often seen as the most demanding and perhaps least rewarding job on a trip. I have not found that to be true. On Trail Tamer trips when we cook for ourselves, we take turns doing these jobs and the team work involved is often just as fun as when we are doing trail work. More recently, we have been doing more pot luck type meals and this gives everyone the chance to  show off some cooking skills. This has become one of my favorite types of meals and I expect we will do more of that moving forward. It also has the benefit of spreading out this task. Many hands make light work.  We have also had trips recently where we had a dedicated cook who did none of the trail work, but provided all or most of the meals. Again, the options are virtually unlimited and as a project leader you and/or your leadership team will be able to choose what works best for you or for a given project. The Trail Tamers have a lot of cooking gear and a walled tent that can be used as a camp kitchen when other options are not available. Individual members also have a variety of gear that may be used for outdoor cooking.

    If you have a special place where you want to do some trail work, reach out and let me support you to build a team. If you like the idea of leading a project, putting together a team to lead a project, or if you want to help support projects by taking on a little more responsibility when you go on trips, I just want to let you know I am here to help. I will help you get started and provide all the support you need as you step up into the role that suits you best.  Please feel free to get in touch with me with any questions or concerns. If you have a project idea and want to get started, please reach out and I will help. If you want to lead a trip but don’t know where to start, we have plenty of folks wanting trail crews, but not enough leaders available, so we can make suggestions for that too. One thing to keep in mind as you consider a project is that we have a strong preference for projects on lands that allow significant public access to footpaths and multiuse trails, though we do other work as well from time to time. 

    Finally, if you know of any other members or potential members who have experience leading trail crews who might want a freer hand choosing their projects, please encourage them to reach out to me too. I think the Trail Tamers present a unique opportunity to be creative and provide meaningful, fun volunteer opportunities that will have a huge impact on the lives of the volunteers as well as the end users of the projects we work. I would sure like to see those opportunities grow.

    All the Best,

    Scott Newsom

    President, Central Texas Trail Tamers

    2101 Lanier Dr.

    Austin, TX 78757

    (281) 797-5672

    scott@newsomweb.net

    president@trailtamers.org


  • Saturday, December 18, 2021 12:25 PM | Scott Newsom

    I sit here in the pre-Christmas quiet, tired and sore, but very satisfied after a successful trip to Love Creek where we continued work on the stewardship trail.  During the pandemic with our reduced schedule, I sorely missed the sense of accomplishment, the friendships, the fireside chats and laughter that are the best parts of a Trail Tamer project. It feels so good to get going again. In 2021, we saw successful trips to the Buffalo Trails Boy Scout Ranch, Kickapoo Caverns, Guadalupe Mountains National Park,  The Chihuahuan Dessert Research Institute, Love Creek Nature Preserve, and McKinney Falls State Park in addition to providing training on trail building to the Central Texas Master Naturalists. All things considered, that is a successful 2021 and we can all feel good about the continued contributions of our organization. I hope even more of you can join us during the New Year!

    2022 is shaping up to be another great year of Trail Taming. We are kicking things off in January with a return to Candlelight Ranch. This ranch provides outdoor experiences for disabled kids and we have supported them since the Trail Tamers were founded. Another trip that has been finalized and is on the schedule is a pre-spring break return to the Chihuahuan Dessert Research Center in Fort Davis. Additional trips to the Boy Scout Camp and Guadalupe Mountains  are expected once we work out a few details. We have also been invited to work on trails in the Gila Wilderness this summer with an equestrian organizing providing support in the backcountry. We will have a slate of local projects coming up as well with more work expected in the local State Parks as well as a return later in the year to some of our favorite spots in the Fort Davis area. You can always find upcoming projects at the Events page. 

     I'm looking forward to seeing you all out on the trails. Please consider joining a project and bring a friend!

    Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to All

    Scott

     

  • Saturday, August 14, 2021 5:13 PM | Scott Newsom

    The Trail Tamers are Back! Our first project of the Fall (OK, its still summer) is posted. We will have a workday at McKinney Falls August 28th to kick off the 2021-2022 Trailwork season. We will also be posting new projects in the area as well as a trip to the Davis Mountains in October (does it get any better than that?) and trail projects in the Texas Hill Country. Keep an eye out for new announcements as we will be filling out the Fall calendar soon. I am really looking forward to seeing everyone out on the trails.     

  • Thursday, April 01, 2021 8:35 AM | Kevin Deiters (Administrator)

    The Trail Tamers returned to the trail during March 2021 to assist the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department complete the construction of new trail at Kickapoo Caverns State Park near Brackettville. 

    The park is known for the caverns and hosting millions of bats but does not gets much attention for its hiking trails that cross this historic ranch.

    Planning for the project began during January when Kevin Deiters visited the park for a few days of hiking.  The park has over ten miles of trails and an unknown number of miles of ranch roads that were built by ranchers needing to access their stock throughout the property.  

    Deiters met with park superintendent Kenneth “Doc” Anderson during January to discuss partnering with the Trail Tamers on a project.  Anderson recommended that the Trail Tamers work on the 6.5-mile-Long Way Home Trail (LWHT).  The LWHT is the longest trail in the park and follows an old ranch road around the back of the property.  Unfortunately, each end of the trail terminates at the park road requiring hikers to hike almost a mile on the primary roadway for vehicle traffic. 

    Anderson proposed the construction of two new segments (approximately 1.0 mile long) connecting the trail into a loop and eliminating the need for hikers to dodge vehicles on the park road.  The route was flagged and mowed by park staff and was made ready for brushing by the Trail Tamers.

    Deiters and Cody Glover returned in late January to clear brush on a quarter mile segment that the park staff had flagged on the western side of the trail and to scout the remaining flagged segment of the trail intended to reroute the eastern segment of the trail away from the park road.

    This was the first project undertaken by the Trail Tamers since February 2020 and required the Board to implement several safety new protocols pertaining to COVID-19.  Participants were required to get tested and have a documented negative COVID-19 test within three days of the project or have been vaccinated and symptom free for at least two weeks.  Each volunteer was also responsible for providing their own food and water.

    Six volunteers signed up and worked clearing brush along the segments that had been flagged and mowed by Park staff.  The primarily cleared ash-juniper and cacti along the new segments and installed new signs directing hikers onto the new segments. 

    The highlight of the project was the construction of a drainage crossing using river rock hauled to the location by a skid steer operated by Superintendent Anderson.  This crossing would have taken several days to build by hand; however, the crew was able to knock it out in under an hour with the six loads of river rock that Anderson was able to deliver to the location.

  • Friday, March 05, 2021 7:30 AM | Kevin Deiters (Administrator)

    The Central Texas Trail Tamers (CTTT) is hosting a trail project at Kickapoo Cavern State Park during Feb 15-19th that will include the conversion of an abandoned jeep trail (0.8 miles) to a hiking trail and other trail projects at the Park.  This is a great opportunity to get outside and work in a very unique park.  More information about the park is available at Kickapoo Cavern State Park — Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

    The CTTT’s volunteer activities are optional and non-essential. Your health and safety is our top priority, and your participation is at your discretion. We understand everyone has different levels of comfort and acceptable risk. If you aren’t comfortable returning to trail work when others are, we support you in returning to trail work when you are ready!

    Registration:  There will not be a fee for the project and the Park is waiving entrance and camping fees; however, you must be an active member of the Trail Tamers to participate and you must agree to abide by the following COVID-19 Protocols.


  • Thursday, October 15, 2020 7:00 AM | Scott Newsom

    I guess it is no surprise that we have been shut down since the beginning of the pandemic. Bringing unrelated people together in close contact for extended periods of time is just one of the easiest ways of spreading this damned virus, so until it is under better control, we won't be doing any of the kind of projects we have done in the past. 

    We will be continuing to scout out projects and make ready for such a time that we can safely work together as a group. So, if you have an ongoing relationship with a land manager, be sure to reach out to them and stay in touch. For experienced trail tamers, our tools are available for solo projects so if you just have to get out there and help maintain a trail you love, let us know. 

    Y'all stay well and say howdy when you have the chance,

    Scott  

  • Saturday, November 16, 2019 10:55 AM | Scott Newsom

    Eight Trail Tamers worked on the Bear Canyon Trail at Guadalupe Mountains National Park November of 2019. They cleared water bars, built steps and rehabilitated tread over a long section of trail about 1.5 miles from the Pine Canyon campground. During a rest day they explored a big hole in the ground just a few miles up the road. I think they call it Carlsbad Caverns. See pictures from the camp and trail here

  • Saturday, October 26, 2019 3:00 PM | Scott Newsom

    Kevin Deiters led a crew of hearty Trail Tamers on October 12th and 13th that included Charlie Grant , Joel Barks, Robert Gross, and Jennifer Hamman. They were joined by Bob Binney, Mark Richardson, and Vivian Gradin of the YMCA working on a trail at the YMCA Robert’s Ranch just outside of Comfort, Texas. At this facility, there is an informal trail leading from the pavilion to the ridge above. This trail, known as the Ridge Trail, is important, as it traverses key ecological sites: riparian, grassland, slope (Steep Rocky) and uplands (low stony hill). The trail is short and easily accessible from the Pavilion. But, it has been in need of improvements to prevent erosion and to enhance the visitor experience. The trail crew had a productive day flagging a quarter mile of trail and then building 750 feet of it from a creek crossing through a grassy meadow up into a shallow ridge.

    This will be an ongoing project between the Trail Tamers and the YMCA. The nest workdays will include finishing the flagged section and Phase three will be the most challenging as we try to figure out how to get to the ridge up the steeper portions of the path. Kevin and the Trail Tamers will be returning throughout the winter and spring to see this project to completion.

    Craig Childs of the YMCA writes: Kevin and his wife graciously donated 2 rouge hoes and two McLeod hoes to YMCA Roberts Ranch, critical tools for building a proper trail! They arrived yesterday and I can't wait to get them dirty! Everyone, please thank Kevin and his team  for their generosity and support of Roberts Ranch. Texas Trail Tamers build professional trails all over the United States. We are blessed to have them involved with Roberts Ranch. This was followed by no fewer than eight very kind Thank You notes from YMCA members who were very impressed with the training and the work completed on the trail.

    I’m sure we will be having new work days on this project soon, so keep an eye out for new signups on our website at www.TrailTamers.org and don’t forget to join us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/288723014414/


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The Central Texas Trail Tamers is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 

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