Like many Tam High students who live on the streets above the high school, Tomas Ludin often walks there via a network of paths that cut down the hillside. The final portion of the shortcut, which includes narrow wooden stairs that stretch between Morning Sun Avenue and Homestead Boulevard, ends directly across the street from the school’s Mead Theater entrance.

But in recent years, this particular path had become increasingly difficult to navigate. It was overgrown with poison oak, blackberry vines and other vegetation. Heavy rains during the last couple of winters had eroded dirt around and under the stairs and created dangerous potholes. Some of the stairs had rotted and fallen apart. The path was also strewn with litter.

A member of local Boy Scout Troop 24, Ludin decided to focus on restoring the path for his Eagle Project, a requirement for advanced Scouts. He worked closely with members of the Almonte District Improvement Club (ADIC), the official beneficiary of the project.

“Since our main focus for the year is opening and clearing the paths and trails which are documented in county maps but which have been neglected, fenced over, and illegally claimed by some residents--and which could be our only means of getting down the hills in a disaster--we were delighted to accept this project,” said Linda Rames, ADIC president.

Ludin spent months planning and preparing for the path restoration project. He attended ADIC meetings and spread the word about the project to neighbors, recruiting some to help. He also wrote letters to local businesses requesting donations. Goodman Building Supply, Martin Brothers Supply and Roccos’ Pizza came through with contributions, as did the ADIC.

“The hardest part of the project was keeping track of all of the people I was communicating with,” Ludin said.

On Saturday, May 20, he and 25 of his fellow Scouts and community volunteers descended on the path. Scott Barnes, Battalion Chief of Operations and Vegetation Management for the Mill Valley Fire Department, even stopped by to lend a hand.

“This is a great contribution to the residents of Mill Valley,” Barnes said.

Ludin and his team spent several hours cutting back branches, clearing out poison oak, and replacing and repairing steps. By the end of their work session, they’d collected a dumpster’s worth of green waste and several large bags of trash.

Students and other community members now have a safe, convenient way to get to the high school and surrounding area. The path is also fit to serve as an escape route for residents in the event of an emergency evacuation. Since completing the project, Ludin has received plenty of positive feedback from those who use the path.

“You don’t have to worry about getting mugged by ivy vines anymore,” said Jim O’Donnell, who often takes the path to work. “They did a terrific job of opening up the space around the stairs and making the trail safer.”

Ludin said he hopes that people will respect the improved path by keeping it litter free. And that the results of his project will motivate the community to improve other paths in the area.

Courtesy photo

Tomas Ludin and team begin work to improve popular hillside path.