Eric Olsen took a momentary break from stamping gravel down on the Montana Creek Trail on Saturday to look around.
“It’s almost time to declare victory, isn’t it?” Olsen asked.
“Just about,” Erik Boraas, the executive director of Trail Mix, Inc., responded as he looked at the nearly completed stretch of trail.
Olsen and around 40 other volunteers came out Saturday to help Trail Mix — a nonprofit that creates and maintains trails across Southeast — in its work on the popular Mendenhall Valley trail. Saturday was National Trails Day, when people all over the country get outside and work on hiking trails.
Boraas said Trail Mix does something like this every year.
“It’s good to get people out and remember that trails take work,” Boraas said. “They don’t just happen.”
The City and Borough of Juneau supplied the gravel, which Boraas said cost the city a couple hundred dollars. The Tongass Chapter of Trout Unlimited #581 supplied food for the volunteers and Alaskan Brewing Company donated beers for the volunteers to enjoy once their work was done.
The work went much faster than expected, Boraas said, because so many people showed up. They expected to be finished around 1 p.m. but actually finished their work at about 11:30 a.m. The work Saturday was to reroute the trail away from the steep, eroded area near the creek.
For many who were out there on the drizzly day, the work meant more than simply spreading and arranging gravel in the forest. Olsen, 71, said he’s helped work on numerous trails around town over the years and the work helps him form a connection to those places.
“I feel proprietary, like these are my trails, along with the community,” Olsen said.
As volunteers finished up the trail, Olsen was working next to 10-year-old Rian Hall — who lives in Arizona but is up for the summer with his father Asher Hall, who was born and raised in Juneau. Rian worked on a variety of tasks helping out, and his youthful energy was rubbing off on the older volunteers.
Olsen talked to Rian about how he worked on the Dan Moller Trail decades ago and how he feels a connection to it whenever he hikes on it. He told Rian that when he’s older and he visits Juneau and walks on this trail, he’ll have the same feeling.
“Rian really will think warmly of this trail,” Olsen said afterward.
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.