Sahale LLC. was reliant on a versatile, conscientious staff of designers, fabricators, and builders. Below is a partial listing of the (often irreverent) biographies of some key Sahale personnel during the years 1992-2010.

“This site is a tribute to the men and women who helped build the trails and bridges on these pages and without whom I would have nothing to show. All of them are friends, many are family, and I have been humbled by their hard work, dedication, and support over the years.” --Carroll Vogel





Master Builder

Carroll Vogel is a master builder widely recognized for his technical expertise in the design and construction of trails, bridges and historic structures commonly found in National Parks, Forests, urban greenways and other public outdoor recreation sites.  Carroll's unique expertise is in the implementation of construction and service projects in remote and/or environmentally sensitive areas.  He has completed a multitude of projects in his 30-year career involving trail and bridge construction, natural area site restoration, outdoor recreation management, and project administration.

Carroll has planned and implemented the construction of more than 400 miles of trail for foot, equestrian, bicycle, handicap accessible, and ORV uses since 1978.  During that time he supervised construction of more than 80 bridges for various agencies involving cable, log stringer, solid stringer, crescent truss, laminated arch, steel truss, glu-laminated, and gadbury designs.

Carroll has performed work in many National Parks and Forests nationwide and is well respected for his ingenuity, technical ability, and projects that meet the highest standards of craftsmanship.  He has taught extensively throughout the country on historic and traditional methods of building trails, bridges and rustic structures.  In 1985, he developed a training curriculum and implemented a national format training series in traditional natural resource management work skills.  Over a six year period he and his staff trained more than 1000 National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and other agency personnel in construction skills for trail and pedestrian bridge construction and natural area site restoration.

In 1989, Carroll designed, implemented, and directed a $1.5 million volunteer effort to rehabilitate trails and fireline in Yellowstone National Park following 1988 wildfires.  The Greater Yellowstone Recovery Corps received the annual Chevron Conservation Award, was named a recipient of President Bush's Point of Light Award, and was featured by ESPN cable network on the program America's Wilderness, all in 1989.  Carroll's work in training and fire recovery were accomplished on behalf of the Student Conservation Association, Inc., (SCA), a national, educational, non-profit organization for whom he worked throughout much of the 1980's.  Since 1990, he has specialized in trail planning and construction, and the design and building of recreational cable bridges for a host of national clients.

Carroll Vogel, 1954-2010





Professional Engineer

Al Highberger has over 45 years of structural engineering experience.  Descended from James Finlay, the father of the modern suspension bridge, Al is also from Greensburg, Pennsylvania. His diverse body of professional work encompasses structures, aircraft, and aerospace, and he has worked for industry standard-bearers Boeing, Martin-Marietta, Lockheed, McDonald-Douglas and others.  Most recently, he has worked under sub-contract for the Boeing Aircraft Company as Senior Stress Engineer on various projects involving structural problems associated with aircraft design.  He has extensive experience with use of traditional analytic methods and computer software for finite element structure and fatigue analysis.  Al is the author of several stress analysis documents submitted to the U.S. Air Force, US Navy, and the Federal Aviation Administration, covering design loads and internal stresses for various projects.

Since 1985, Al has served as Lead Structural Engineer on numerous pedestrian and light vehicle bridge design and construction projects.  His work has involved a variety of bridge designs, among them native timber, steel, and treated timber bridges.  In 1988, he was the recipient of the US Forest Service Primitive Skills Award for his design of a bridge in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in Washington State.  His most significant work involves cable bridges, in which he has comprehensive experience with analysis of live, dead, and dynamic loads on cables, towers, sway bracing, deck systems, and anchor mechanisms.  He is a respected authority on the modern use of historic cable bridge engineering precepts developed by Roebling, Steinman, and others, especially with respect to application of structures programs for computer generated analysis.   His work has led to the development of a number of economical sub- and superstructure features unique to Sahale Bridges including anchor components, cable saddles, tower configuration, suspension and cable stay hardware.



EIT, Lead Technical Designer

Bridge Builder

A 2002 University of Washington graduate with a B.S. in Material Science Engineering, Brandon has an extensive background in Computer Aided Design Technology and is responsible for creating the 3D modeling and Engineering Drawings for Sahale projects.  Involved with Sahale since 2004, he began with computer aided design in college and later applied those skills at United Parcel Service where he worked for seven years, putting himself through school.  At UPS Brandon was both a Training Supervisor and Plant Engineering Supervisor.  Primary responsibilities at UPS included maintenance of plant and building infrastructure, inventory control, and employee training.

Brandon's educational experience is diverse and includes formal instruction in thermodynamics, X-Ray diffraction, refractory design, statics, structures failure analysis, and two full years of instruction in AutoCAD as used for the production of mechanical/architectural drawings and blue prints.  His Senior Research project comprised an investigation into methods for increasing the fatigue life in low ductility metals with residual stress.  In October of 2005, Brandon completed his Engineer in Training certification and is on course to stand for the full engineer exam in late 2007 or 2008.  

One of Brandon's great strengths as a technical designer is the fact that he brings a couple of decades' worth of practical construction experience to his position.  His father is an accomplished builder and journeyman carpenter and together he and Brandon have accomplished numerous projects over the years.  This understanding of how things fit together and how construction tasks are performed is a valuable asset when paired with computer aided design.  Brandon's bridge building career began early, when, as a youth, he designed and constructed a steel beam bridge over a pond on family property.  Later he developed a particular fascination with the historic Eads Bridge, in St. Louis, which he studied extensively and documented in a comprehensive report.  Completed in 1874, the Ead's Bridge was among the first of the great steel bridges and was the longest bridge in the world at that time.  It continues in use today carrying highway and rail traffic and, like the Brooklyn Bridge, remains an icon of 19th century bridge achievement.  

Brandon's experience, creativity, and talent is utilized by Sahale in developing accurate 3-Dimensional designs & renderings to ensure form, fit and function of bridge components and parts.  He also produces the 2-Dimensional detailed fabrication drawings used by Sahale in the bridge manufacturing process.  Reluctant to be confined to the office and his computer, Brandon frequently assists with steel fabrication in the shop and on many projects dons a harness and erects steel with the rest of the Sahale team.  Brandon's wife Carrie and son Finn often accompany him to Sahale field projects where they are a welcome addition to the crew.



Director, Production & Quality Control

Bridge Builder

Steve Howell is the mastermind behind metal fabrication and production of bridge parts at the Sahale shop.  His relevant expertise in metal smithing is diverse, encompassing the technical skills necessary for welding, punching, and flame bending steel plates and shapes, to the technical certifications necessary for structural evaluation of fabricated parts.  The founder of Ballard Forge in Seattle, Steve is a blacksmith of high regard and a student of metal working from its earliest beginnings as a product of hammer, forge and anvil, to the sophistication of 21st Century steel production methods.

Steve began his metal working career at the age of 15 in Rochester, NY, where he learned welding and the fundamentals of steel fabrication while in high school.  In the ensuing decades he cultivated the experience of those early years through a variety of work experiences spanning offshore welding in the gulf of Mexico to work at Boeing Military Airplane Division involving quality control and inspection of titanium tubing components for the B-2 Stealth Bomber and structural elements of the F-22 fighter.  Always one to explore the technical side of things, Steve sought out training in NDT (nondestructive testing) practices and attended a two-year certification program in rural Hutchinson, Minnesota.  While still in school he received his AWS Certified Welding Inspector certificate in addition to extensive training in ultrasonics, X and Gamma radiography, eddy current and magnetic particle inspection methods.  Today Steve continues to hold certificates as ASNT Level III NDT Inspector certified in Ultrasonic testing, ICC Certified Structural Welding Inspector, and WABO Certified Welder.  A long time employee of Siemens Medical Systems AG, Steve worked as an acoustic metrologist specializing in the manufacture, testing and integration of phased array transducers used in diagnostic medical imaging equipment.  Countless times through the years Steve has been the person to stand behind the manufacture and certification of failure-critical metal components in everything from petrochemical equipment, to aircraft, the Abrams Tank and Sahale Bridges.

At Sahale, Steve directs all aspects of steel fabrication in the shop.  He is responsible for staff training and orientation, development and implementation of quality assurance/control procedures, machinery and equipment acquisition, set-up and maintenance, and direction of manufacturing processes.  Principal manufacturing methods involve operation of multiple hydraulic ironworkers to 100-tons, MIG/TIG stick and wire feed welding machines, oxy-acetylene welding and flame bending practices, and component layout.  Steve is also a key member of the Sahale design team, addressing primary and sub-assembly component manufacturing methods during the bridge design process.



Aaron Nelson was born in Pullman and raised in Spokane, Washington. He has a knack for hamming it up and has been in 20 full-scale stage productions as well as numerous commercials. He has a penchant to dictate, ordain and decree, which has been expressed both in theatre production and restaurant management, and is now in full bloom as a project manager for Sahale. He can catch fish with his teeth by humming a special fish-tooth-catch-tune, as he calls it. He spent three years honing his carpenter skills at Holden Village, a small community deep in the North Cascades where he perfected this mystical fly fish-catching technique.


Adam lit out at age three from Fremont, California for the Pacific Northwest, and those three year-old feet in their small, corrective shoes just kept on moving. He's worked in the halls of Congress, on fishing boats in Alaska, at scrappy internet startups, for plastics magazines, at a newspaper in Ketchum, Idaho, and in east Africa collecting frogs and snakes. He was also a very effective busboy at Black Angus, co-wrote a travel guidebook while living in Turkey, fought fires in Oregon, and once worked himself out of a job incising lumber by being too damn fast. He considers Eugene, Oregon--the town where he grew up and received his degree from the University of Oregon (Honors College/Journalism)--his home, but hasn't lived there in a good while.

Adam came to the steel, earth and sky world of Sahale in 1993, out of the slightly more abstract world of coding and project management at The fit suited. Here at Sahale, Adam fabricates steel, acquires and tracks material, hammers out the logistics for deploying our stuff all over the hemisphere, and has a fine eye for 1/16" errors in design review. Unique among the Sahale bridge builders, Adam is content to remain in Seattle punching and cutting steel while bridges are being built; seems he prefers to stick closer to his wife Manja (co-author of The Turkey Guide) and their two fine young boys (one of whom was once penned up by his colleagues in a rebar cage; since released).


Chris came from Coeur D'Alene Idaho and earned a BA in communications at Western Washington University. While studying there he was a Special Events Coordinator for the Associated Students organization (concerts, speakers etc.). He started building custom bicycles in 2000 which sparked his fascination with metal and metalcraft. He has worked for several blacksmiths on the west coast from Truckee, California to Seattle. He studied 3-dimensional CAD at North Seattle Community College in order to better realize his custom metal work designs. His business, Porcarelli Design and Forge, specializes in architectural forge work and public art. Chris' metal work experience lends itself well to the design and metal fabrication of bridges at Sahale. Chris is deft on the guitar, has been coaching skiing for 3 years and continues to shred the mountains on a regular basis. And if you come by the office he just might share one of his "too wild for the internet" traveling stories.


A member of the Sahale founding family, Austin Thompson assembled his first cable bridge suspenders as a five year old at Drift Creek where he earned a nickel per turnbuckle and took naps in a skyline basket 100' above the canyon floor. All grown up now, Austin is a powerful addition to the Sahale installation team. He is a wizard with a wrench, and a natural rigger; he can fix or jury-rig anything and make it work. A natural 'MacGyver' if the truck breaks down in the middle of nowhere, he's the one that will get it back on line with little more than baling wire and a coconut husk.


Gabe grew up on a canyon rim in Kimberly, Idaho and in the woods of Eugene, Oregon. He graduated in 3 years from University of Oregon with a degree in Chemistry in 1998. Prior to coming to work for Sahale, Gabe conducted cell phone tower inventory which carried him to varied and interesting locations throughout the country. For what it's worth Gabe attracts lizards like some kind of reptile magnet. This proved problematic in Puerto Rico where the lizards were numerous. He is an acrophile in the truest sense, and aspires to raise his table tennis game to near amateur levels.


Jim Lemieux is a trail and bridge builder with a long U.S. Forest Service history in the Cascade Mountains of Washington. Heavy equipment operator, welder, iron worker, blaster, fire fighter, outfitter, ski patoller, goat roper; Jim has lived a larger than life existence in the best Pacific Northwest tradition. He has been a go-to pinch hitter for Sahale on many challenging projects over the years. When he is not out erecting a Sahale bridge he can usually be found working his homesteads on Guemes Island or northern Idaho, sitting in a hot tub, or proffering his particular brand of frontier wisdom and fantastical real life tales to attentive audiences in any venue.





Keith Monohan joined the Sahale team in 1997, during assembly of the Drift Creek Bridge main span. Captivated by the allure of cable bridge design and construction, he applied his analytic skills and organizational abilities helping to create numerous bridge design innovations and perfecting Sahale manufacturing processes.

Keith brought to Sahale a solid background in science and a history of work experience building trails and bridges for the US Forest Service. He graduated summa cum laude from OSU with two Bachelors of Science degrees, one in Bioresources Research (Environmental Chemistry option) and another in Crop and Soil Sciences. He was the assistant foreman of a US Forest Service trail crew in central Oregon where, among other things, he performed trail bridge construction and led crews performing trail re-construction and maintenance as well as Wilderness restoration. He has also worked as a fire fighter, spending two summer seasons fighting forest fires throughout Oregon.


Ken Gilman is originally from Morrisville, Vermont. He studied at the Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston, focusing on German Expressionism through figure and portrait painting. After moving westward, he cut his blacksmithing teeth at South Seattle Community College, and apprenticed with professional blacksmiths before establishing his own business in 2002; Gilman Iron Arts in Ballard, Washington, a purveyor of custom residential ironwork and art pieces (furniture, architectural and decorative.) As such Ken is a metal artist and a jiu-jitsu machine*. Aside from his shear physical prowess and his critical back-woods self-defense know-how, he is a kind and gentle man. After all, he paints portraits in oil. His architectural and structural steel creations have astounded many.

* blue belt model


An avowed “white collar refugee” Marty Walz was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. He earned his AA degree at Shoreline CC, and his BA from Western Washington University. He has climbed a number of NW peaks including Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and El Dorado Peak among others. He is a blur on the soccer pitch, loves working with his hands and getting out in the woods. His project management skills were honed as a IRB Coordinator for Virginia Mason Institutional Review Board and as a Research Coordinator for the Oncology Group. Marty is unique in his work-all-day-work-all-night ethic. If we forget to tell him it's time to quit for the day, he'll still be tying rebar when we show up in the morning. As this photo connotes, he is a regal gentleman in all his conduct.



Mary Pat was raised in Sitka, Alaska and moved to the Seattle area in 1980 to attend Seattle University. She received her Bachelor of Education in 1985, taught in Montessori schools for 15 years; owned and worked as the head chef of a catering company in Bothell, Washington for 6 years. She is married to Robert Mitton, one of Sahale's original employees, and they are now raising two teenage daughters. With little spare time on her hands, she has taken to combining her interests by reading a book while gardening, and doing yoga while playing the piano. Due to her access to readily available bridge-building tools, we do our best to stay on her good side. She is fond of saying that keeping the rest of us in line is like herding mangy high-wire cats.


Marco Ernandes hails from Engene, OR and was a long-time Sahale team member during the years developing Sahale's full service steel fabrication shop. During that time he perfected many of the fabrication and installation protocols that have made Sahale a well-oiled bridge building machine. He is also a masterful rigger, semi-truck driver and crane operator and is currently focused on becoming a licensed helicopter pilot---who will undoubtedly one day fly external helicopter loads for Sahale into the backcountry.