Zach MacDonald, Assistant Trail Director for the Arizona Trail Association (AZT) , had big plans for the work session on Wednesday, Nov. 20. He was finally going to replace the rickety wire fence at the culvert where the AZT crosses under Oracle (Route 77) at Tyger Mine Road. Zach told our SaddleBrooke crew, “I’ve wanted to replace that gate for 15 years!”
Everything was set—the new gate was fabricated, the installation crew scheduled, Americorp youths were going to provide the labor to move the fence line, and our SaddleBrooke volunteers were going to fill in where needed. Rain fell most of the afternoon on Tuesday, the day prior to the work event, and it poured overnight. The forecast called for more rain and a threat of flash floods! But; at 7:15 a.m. on Wednesday, the rain stopped! The cool air turned out to be a blessing for the vigorous work that lay ahead!
Four SaddleBrooke volunteers, Ray Peale, Steve Aiken, Dennis Randleman, and Seana Kobak, undaunted by the weather, set out to Oracle to help with the project. One of the volunteers, Dennis Randleman, new to SaddleBrooke, grew up on a ranch and was looking forward to his first AZT volunteer trail maintenance party. Treats by Elisabeth Wheeler, Elaine Fagen, and Seana Kobak were sent along.
The gate installer and Americorp crew arrived by 8:30 a.m. Zach immediately set the plan in motion. The old gate was quickly removed with the help of wire cutters, a post remover (hi-lift jack), jack hammers to remove the old concrete and a bobcat. The Americorp crew cleared the area for the new fence, removed the sand on the embankment and installed new posts. At the same time, our SB volunteers dug a new hole and installed the iconic AZT trail post sign.
The twelve Americorp young people, a delightful bunch ranged in ages from 18 to 24, were in their third week of a nine-month service commitment. They have been working for several weeks in the Tucson area for the ATA primarily around West Spring above Molino Basin in the Santa Catalinas (AT Passage 10, Redington Pass). Soon they will be sent to another part of the country to work on other projects.
With the help of all these participants, the new gate is now installed and functional. It was fabricated by Rob Bauer of Catalina, who has manufactured and installed almost all of the 80 plus gates on the Arizona Trail. The gate is sturdy enough to withstand a stampede of cows! According to Wendy Lotze, volunteer coordinator for ATA, that gate has to “withstand the 40-somethings that like to swing on it.”
Would you like to join the fun of working on the Arizona Trail? The January work party will be Wednesday, Jan. 15, departing from SaddleBrooke at 7:30 a.m. To sign up, email Seana Kobak at email@example.com.