City of Seward, Featured, Fire Department, Outdoors, Sports

Seward Fire Dept. Preps for Mount Marathon Race with Jeep Trail Maintenance

Seward Fire Department clears a tree that has been blocking the Jeep Trail since winter.
By Kelley Lane for Seward City News –

Training for Seward’s annual Mount Marathon race is in full swing. As such, Mount Marathon has been crawling with runners and hikers lately. On a recent sunny Monday, I encountered a full parking lot at the Lowell Canyon Trailhead, and crossed paths with more than 20 runners, singles and groups of two and three. The only time in the past month that I haven’t seen other runners out training was when I headed up the Jeep Trail for repeats on a Sunday morning at 3:45am.

It’s exciting and the atmosphere is electric. Many runners use the Jeep Trail to train their quads for the intense uphill. All spring runners and hikers on the Jeep Trail have been passing under a downed tree on one of the higher up switchbacks. The tree allowed one to pass underneath it single file, by bending one’s torso slightly and hunching over. Today, that changed, thanks to the Seward Volunteer Fire Department, led by Volunteer of the Year, Austin Chapman, with two accompanying volunteers who helped heave the giant tree sections off of the trail once sawed into sections.

The Jeep Trail serves as access to Mount Marathon for Rescues.

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The Seward Fire Department uses the Jeep Trail to access the bench trail and reach injured persons higher up on the mountain. That was the situation on Wednesday afternoon. A woman had fallen amongst “The Roots” section of the mountain. She was found and transported down the mountain by a fellow runner, who is visiting Seward with his spouse and family. The couple was up on the mountain when they heard a voice calling for help. They found the woman, who had sustained a leg injury and could not walk herself down the mountain. The Anchorage man carried the injured woman down the Jeep Trail switchbacks on his back, having called for emergency personnel using their cell phone. The Ambulance was at the bottom of the Jeep Trail, waiting to transport the woman the remaining distance to the Seward Hospital.

Following the rescue, the Seward Fire Department returned to the Jeep Trail. They drove the Fire Department jeep up the switchbacks to the downed tree, at which point they made and implemented a plan for safely clearing it. Two of us runners stood and watched the process. The Stihl chainsaw in the competent hands of Austin Chapman made quick work of the tree. The trail is now clear and future rescue efforts will be simpler. Chapman said that the Fire Department had only learned of the downed tree that week, as it had not been reported to them sooner. He encouraged Seward residents to alert the Fire Department of downed trees across the Jeep Trail in the future by calling the Seward Fire Department at 907.224.3445.

Seward Fire Department volunteers from left, Morgan Woodard, Austin Chapman and Andrew Rutherford.

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