Leader: Daniel Johnson
Members: Hayley Bahr
Day 1: We decided to start our day to 5am to avoid the afternoon heat wave. Recently, it had seemed as though the sun always shined in this part of the country. We found out that this was not so. It was still dark out preventing us from starting out work until the late hour of 5.30am. Equipped with a pole saw and loppers Hayley and I began our epic adventure on porphyry creek. We were given the task of clearing out a corridor that extended 8’’ on each side of the road and 13’’ above it. We began the day by sawing limbs off of trees but we had much different plans for the afternoon. During our lunch break we recruited Nat and a pair of chainsaws to join us. With the aid of a B level sawyer we were able to tear through encroaching willows in minutes that would have taken us hours with hours with loppers. When we ﬁnished work that evening and returned to Moyer I was too exhausted to truly want to eat and settled to drink chocolate milk (which I might add was very refreshing).
Day 2: Learning from our previous mistake of starting to early we started promptly at 5:30. At roughly 9am we were able to meet up with Nat once more and clear a large swath of corridor with the use of gasoline driven sawing equipment. Much to the crews chagrin, Nat had to leave that afternoon to meet with the trails crew many miles away. Not to be dismayed my partner and I set upon lopping rose, gooseberry and willows with a fervor that the local vegetation had never seen before.
Days 3, 4, and 5: Lop, limb, prune and sleep. Repeat x3
Day 6: The night before I was sleeping in my bed when I heard a door bell ring. Nat and Hayley came walking in to inform me that Pete (our forest service contact) had left a message asking us to be in the Salmon oﬃce at 7am the next day. The next morning Hayley and I were excited that our plans had changed, one’s heart can only lop, limb and prune for so many consecutive days before faltering. We left Moyer, as usual, as 5:30am making it to his oﬃce with a few minutes to spare. Pete laid out our mission for the day: Place a wash out ahead sign near Beaver Creek at the junction of forest service roads 008 and 172 so that people can turn around before they get stuck in the muck and then drive up to Indian spring camp ground and document (via pictures and verbal description) the washed out culvert so they could plan out what equipment and how many man hours would be needed to complete the project.
This epic road trip encompassed 411 miles of the beautiful Salmon Chalis National Forest. A large part of our drive was actually in the Frank Church Wilderness Corridor, which is how we saw the mysterious (and apparently delectable) Rok Chuck (aka yellow bellied marmot). The drive to the area near Beaver creek was a fairly easy journey (outside of the length of the journey), we stopped in Stanly and ate some amazing pizza at Papa Brunnies. Thankfully, Hayley had the foresight to get a large pizza so that we could eat the left overs for dinner. Many of the roads were exceptionally narrow with hair pin turns causing us to wonder how Gary would get a front loader or other piece of heavy equipment up the culvert on Indian camp ground. We ran into Raina when we stopped by the Loon creek guard station just as she was ending her hitch in the backcountry and helped her unload some of the gear she was carrying. Raina was driving a truck with a fairly large sized trailer that had two mules and two horses in it; needless to say we were both exceptionally impressed by her driving abilities because of the sharp angles of the turns that we mentioned. We then headed up the our destination. Upon arrival we saw the problem; the culvert was completely plugged up with large rocks visible in the culvert itself. This caused the water to divert off onto the road cutting a 2-3 foot wide gap that dropped 3-4 feet down making it impassable for all but ATVs or dirt bikes. After documenting the area we were forced to reverse roughly a half mile down the steep rough road until we were able to ﬁnd an area that was large enough for us to turn around. We reﬁlled our water containers at the guard station and had a chat with Andy, who has worked at that station for 26 years and was very knowledgeable about the area. We saw some old vehicles from roughly the 40s as well as an exceptionally old rusting out crane that they used to use in the area for gold mining (there are active mining claims in that area).
On our trek back to Moyer we leap frogged past Raina multiple times (we kept stopping to look at landmarks). We also stopped to talk to some of workers for the Shoshone-Bannock Fish and wildlife dept. who were doing ﬁsh surveying in the area (they were trapping ﬁsh using a weir and seeing how many native vs ﬁshery spawned salmon were coming up the river to spawn). This group is also going to be working out of our base camp for a long period of time. They are going to be stunning ﬁsh, catching them for study and then releasing them back into the river and they could use volunteers! We made it back to Moyer at roughly 9:30pm (this was an exceptionally long, yet rewarding day) and promptly passed out in our beds.
Day 7: We found ourselves back in Pete’s oﬃce at 7am, he loaded us up with signs and a pack for the weeds crew and pointed us in the direction of Clear creek, the bridge near Colson creek and a wash out up spring creek. We fervently dropped the weed crews pack off ﬁrst at Clear creek so that they could get there work done for the day. Then we headed off to Colson creek. We installed four signs near a bridge to demarcate the hard edges of the structure in order to keep people from driving into it. I also got my ﬁrst experience using a pole pounder and driving metal stakes straight into the ground. It took several hundred pounds to move the large sign posts into the group far enough for them to be sturdy. After this task was ﬁnished we drove up spring creek to ﬁnd the wash out. The directions we were given were proven to be bunk but we found the wash out in question and drove another sign into the ground at a spot where travelers would be able to see it and turn around before going on the road and getting stuck. The ground was much softer here and within a hundred pounds the stake was sturdily driven into the soil. We headed back to the road maintenance shop, dropped off the equipment that they loaned us let Gary know we had completed our task and headed back to Moyer.
Feet of road brushed: 11,350
Miles of road/culverts surveyed: 9.2