The Mesa Cortina Boardwalk in Honor of Beau Schuette
In 2017, Beau Schuette (35) died from an undiagnosed heart problem. Beau loved Eagles Nest Wilderness, and lived at the family cabin (built more than fifty years ago) near the Mesa Cortina Trailhead. His family and friends have donated generously towards projects in his memory. Working with ESWA volunteers, Beau's parents Barb and John and sister Amanda submitted five potential projects for consideration by the Forest Service. After careful deliberation, led by Wilderness Manager Cindy Ebbert, they chose to build a boardwalk across a marshy area on the Mesa Cortina trail, exactly where Beau loved to hike.

Cindy and her colleague Tyler Kirkpatrick planned the project - a 95 foot-long boardwalk built with treated dimensional lumber. The materials were purchased thanks to a grant from The Summit Foundation. Lumber was cut and prepped at the Forest Service shop in Dillon and delivered to the Mesa Cortina Trailhead in time for the arrival of many boots on the ground on August 11.

Those boots were filled with the feet of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC), a crew of ten incredibly vigorous young people who were living all summer out in the Wilderness in one COVID-inspired social bubble. Construction was managed by Zack Heineman from the Forest Service. In just nine days, they carried all of the materials nearly a mile from the trailhead to the build site, prepped the site, and constructed the boardwalk (some finishing work - stairs and side rails - will be added in 2021). They also rehabbed most of the trail leading to the site.

The RMYC labor was funded by the Schuette family and friends. Moreover, the Schuettes created a second fund in the ESWA Endowment Fund, proceeds from which will be used in perpetuity to help preserve the Wilderness that Beau so loved.

In summary, a collaborative effort between ESWA, the Schuette family, The Summit Foundation, the Forest Service, and the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps has led to the successful creation of a fitting memorial for Beau.

ABOUT BEAU SCHUETTE: Beau was born and raised in Wisconsin but started going to the Silverthorne area for semi-annual family vacations of skiing or hiking while just a toddler. He moved permanently to Colorado in 2006 to pursue his cooking and snowboarding passions. He loved and enjoyed the mountains and Wilderness Areas. At least once a day he walked in the national forest, always very observant of the beauty surrounding him.

27 images (most by Amanda Schuette)
VIDEO (35 seconds): take a walk on the Boardwalk

1. At the end of the last day's work, ESWA's Dave Owens (right) delivered pizza and drinks for the intrepid crew.

2. Dave also brought along some ESWA swag - stickers and lip balm - and showed off the ESWA slogan

3. The yellow box shows the area of the Mesa Cortina trail, and is enlarged below...

4. ...It was about a 3/4 mile trek from trailhead to build site

5. Zack Heineman led administratively and, as shown by his sweat-soaked shirt, by example as well.

6. Some of the lumber that needed to be transported to the build site.

7. These stringers, at about 320 pounds each, were the heaviest pieces.

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10. The trail needed attention. It was rutted, with a social trail beside.

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14. Voila! The rutted trail was filled with earth.

15. Another stretch of the trail, not so deeply rutted, was resurfaced.

16. The boardwalk site was prepped.

17. Sills were carried individually, and spiked together on site.

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22. Decking gets underway.

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24. From bottom up: sills, stringers, decking. Strong enough for horses.

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26. The 2020 project (stairs and side rails to come in 2021).

27. Five dog legs