SCA Idaho AmeriCorps Trails, Hitch 4

Hit and run tactics.

The trails team was set to do a somewhat different style of work these two weeks. For the first week, we returned to Lola Creek Trail to continue our blitz of opening up as much of the trail as possible. For the second week, rather than work on a single area, we covered three different trails, and each one provided its own unique needs and challenges.

At Lola Creek Trail, the major problems we faced were the blockage of the trail by fallen trees, and the encroachment of plants and trees into the trail corridor. To best use our resources and time, the team of seven was split into two groups. One group was composed of a sawyer and swamper, and their goal was to chainsaw and clear as many fallen trees off of the trail as possible. The other group contained the remaining five crew members, and focused on brushing back the trail so that the corridor was wide enough for all users of the trail, which included hikers and horses. The sawyer team was able to clear every one of the 47 blowdowns on the trail from entrance to exit, and the brushing team worked through more than two and a half miles of trail.

Week two contained the most hiking that the trail crew has had to date. The first day, we assisted a Forest Service surveyer who was looking for Whitebark Pine on Mount Borah, the tallest mountain in Idaho. We hiked up to the tree line of the mountain, an elevation of above 10,000 feet, while learning about tree species identification and GPS. The rest of the week was split between two trails that needed help with drainage: Lake Creek Trail and Burnt Aspen Trail. Between the two trails, the crew hiked over 25 miles, and in the process improved over 80 existing drainage structures.

This hitch gave us some unique challenges and involved a more hit-and-run style of completing tasks, which has been quite different than the projects up to this point. Being able to clear out such large sections of these many trails has been gratifying, but all the walking really left our legs sore on Friday morning. We learned many lessons involving the logistics of getting tools and supplies so far into work areas, and we look forward to carrying those new strategies into our next projects.

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