Greetings again from the Forest Moon of Endor, aka the Humboldt Redwoods State Park! The crew’s hitch this week entailed even more hard work, joyful reunions and wildlife fun. The day before hitch, as mentioned in last week’s blog, the crew was invited to Yony’s house for a grill-out and viewing of the FIFA World Cup final match. After watching the last-minute victory by Germany and gorging themselves on salmon and steak, the crew returned to camp and rested for another four days of hard, rewarding work. Overnight though, some crew members were woken by a strange “beep beep beep” that seemed to emanate from the forest itself. It was revealed by Tyler, the resident ornithologist-in-training, that the beeping belonged to a northern saw-whet owl that was residing somewhere in the campground!
Monday / Day 1 entailed the final touches on one of our retaining walls that had yet to be reinforced and filled with dirt as well as learning the importance of establishing a good, steady grade on the first time cutting trail. After realizing that some sections had been accidentally cut too deep, half of the crew was required to haul additional dirt from farther down trail to raise the tread (walking surface) of these sections. The work was tough, but extremely worthwhile; the grade of the trail is now no steeper than 10 or 15% and is an incredibly pleasant hike. Tuesday’s work focused on cutting new trail, leveling the trail’s grade and creating a smooth walking surface. In digging through yards and yards of earth, the crew has stumbled upon all sorts of subterranean life including centipedes, millipedes, worms, beetle larvae, cicada nymphs and even scorpions. We’ve dug up more scorpions in the 2 weeks here in Humboldt than in our 8 months of work in the Mojave Desert!
Wednesday’s work was similar to Tuesday’s, except that the crew also began utilizing the impressive power of our grip hoist. Numerous trees and stumps occluded the perfect leveling of the trail and were removed with the greatest of ease (yeah right!) by the crew. That night the crew was reunited with Stephanie, their beloved project leader who had been away longer than anyone had wished. Thursday was one of the hardest days of work yet. Yony desired to have everyone become familiar with every part of the trail-building process and, in doing so, had each member of the crew cut trail for several hours with their axe-mattocks, then remove the dirt, grade the trail and clear bumps using McLeod’s for another few hours. The beginning touches were put on a retaining wall, many more trees and stumps were pulled and, by the end of the day, nearly all of the trail was cut and ready for working! An added treat to the satisfaction of nearly 400 feet of new trail this week were the bushes full of wild, ripe blackberries the crew gorged themselves on while headed home for work. We were not the only folks to enjoy the berries; a massive pile of black bear scat was found only 20 yards from the work site!