New Gate Installed on the Arizona Trail

Saddlebag Notes (December 27, 2019) by Seana Kobak

Zach MacDonald, Assistant Trail Director for the Arizona Trail Association, had big plans for the work session on Wednesday, November 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 Saddlebrook 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 Saddlebrook 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 Saddlebrook, grew up on a ranch and was looking forward to his first AZT volunteer trail maintenance party. Treats were 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.

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