By: Dan Perez
It wasn’t all that long ago that a rag-tag caravan of fourteen cars pulled into this very parking lot, almost six hours after an early morning departure from Boise. The license plates (and airline ticket stubs) said it all: East Coast, West Coast, Midwest and Rockies – in other words, a fairly mixed group of individuals from around the country.
I can’t speak for everyone with regard to their unique situations that led to their joining this fifteen-member crew, but it would be a safe bet that their primary reasons fell under the categories of personal growth and professional experience.
Becoming a member of SCA Idaho AmeriCorps is by no means the only way to pursue these goals. We could have gotten jobs, in spite of the economy, for better pay and without having to uproot our current lives, and not resulting in friends and family expressing mock concern at our spending six months in Idaho "growing potatoes." So the question that remains is, “Why?”
Having pondered this question myself before I got accepted into this program, I can offer some answers of my own:
-I could go on about how SCA has been around for over fifty years, or cite statistics from their website, but ultimately it’s the conservation work and shared experiences with fellow outdoor enthusiasts that keeps drawing me back. Today marks the end of my third season with the SCA, during which I’ve built a 75’ rock and timber turnpike, bushwhacked through the forest looking for abandoned roads, gone backpacking in the Bighorn Crags, and rafted down several miles of the Salmon River with you all whom I’ve gotten to know so well during our time together.
-Moving to a remote location such as Moyer was quite a lifestyle change from living in Boston, but I was prepared to embrace it, forgoing some modern conveniences for what is, hands down, the most amazing backyard I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying during my time on and off work. From the wide variety of landscapes to our shy four-legged neighbors here in the Salmon-Challis, I’ve constantly been reminded that there is more to Idaho than potatoes.
-Having signed onto this AmeriCorps position, I made a promise to get things done for America by serving the lands and people that are the great state of Idaho. This is a chance to give back, to engage in personal sacrifice for the benefit of something or someone other than yourself, regardless of one’s interest or lack thereof for a given task.
These are my own thoughts, but I hope at least the essence of my last point rings true for my fellow corpsmembers. We all have every right to expect – nay, to gain something useful out of our experiences over the last six months, like how to be a leader for a team of your peers, or how to adapt and overcome when faced with a situation that is entirely out of your control – for instance, a forest fire.
But perhaps more importantly, this is a service position, from which – like any experience in life – you have gained as much as you’ve put in; just by being here, fulfilling that promise we all made in Boise, we are now Americans who have volunteered to serve, and even though our time here is done, may we always find a way to serve, and may we never stop asking ourselves, “Why?”
WILDLIFE Hitch 10
For our last hitch, we co-lead in order to wrap up the Aspen-Inventory project. Data-management was our focus; first we had to finish uploading GPS points and aspen stand photos from previous hitches, as well as organize these files. This was slightly confusing, as there was some data in a different office, but we worked with what we had.
After the first snowfall, we were grateful to be inside (and have indoor-housing versus camping), but when the weather cleared up, we were excited to participate in a short inventorying project. From the facilities at the Hughes Creek Field Station, we headed up the Idaho-Montana border to survey for lynx habitat along the Continental Divide Trail. At 20 random plots, we took 4 photos (one in each cardinal direction) of a red-and-white checkerboard banner to indicate horizontal vegetation coverage (a major factor for snowshoe hare, prey for the lynx). It kind of looks like we played a game of “Where’s Waldo?” in the woods!
The second part of the hitch, we practically camped at was the office! There, we had a list of objectives to accomplish including: returning equipment, editing electronic GPS files and hard-copy aspen inventory sheets, making a template for and printing out several hundred photos of the aspen stands, which we then organized into several binders. Data was collated for reporting totals (we inventoried 267 stands or 228 acres this season!); then the files were compiled into various GIS layers for the numerous maps we made of our project areas, which will help the Forest Service strategize for land management.
Overall, it was great to finish up the project. There are/were some missing pieces (at least spread out over several computers) because our project spanned two zones of the Salmon-Challis, but seeing the maps of the areas we surveyed (with “at risk” stands highlighted), really gave us perspective for how much work we accomplished throughout the season. And as we organized all those photos, we were glad that we had the opportunity to see so much of this wild country. It was really rewarding to know that our surveys can help the wildlife dependent on aspen stands!
Hitch 10 U-routes North
Hitch Leader: Stevi Swanson
The U-routes North crew worked mainly in the Rabbits Foot area; a summit area about 15 miles South of Moyer helibase. This u-routes hitch was unique in that it began with the elk hunting season in the area. Our crew stuck together in groups of at least two and wore bright colors to stand out. We were all a little concerned about bullets flying in the forest. Okay, I was concerned… I’m a worry wart. Fortunately though, there were no incidents. We had a few conversations with different people who were hunting in the area, one of which involved fair warning that there were numerous people hunting right back in the area we were about to hike to. We were grateful for the advice, and continued into the area anyway. Most of the people we talked to were friendly, although there were people who would clearly have preferred we vacate the area… immediately. They didn’t necessarily say so, but they were the ones who glared at us when we waved. We struggled a little with whether we should be as quiet as possible so we didn’t disrupt the hunting environment, or if we should make noise to let people know we were there and not to shoot us. I think we hovered somewhere in the middle.
We averaged about 10 miles of hiking per day, which adds up to 40 miles for the first half of the hitch. I’m pretty impressed by that! I would never have thought I could do it until I did. It seemed like it got colder each day. The first cold morning, we were a little underdressed. Then we got smart and dressed in layers. Hiking is tricky… when we get out of the truck, we’re in seven hundred layers and shivering. Fifteen minutes into an uphill hike, we’re peeling them all off and trying unsuccessfully to figure out how to fit them all into our daypacks. Fortunately, the day we forded Camas Creek was one of the warmer days. The guys brought sandals and towels and carried their boots across the creek. Jenna and I just plowed on through it in our boots… and got soaked. To each his own.
We saw a lot of hunting camps set up. We were impressed with the different ways people had their wall tents and camps set up, we saw a lot of impressive antlers and a few kills hanging in canvas bags.
Overall, it was a good hitch. We stayed warm and fed, and got a lot of work done.
Hitch of the Killer Tree Posse: U-routes South, trick!
Crew: Kendra (Kernel K-Fu), Andrea (Killer Krossing Guard), Kelly (Egomaniacal Easter Bunny), and Johnny (Killer Klown)
Day 1: Day of the forgotten tent.
Upon arriving at our worksite near the old, haunted, and demon-infested Bonanza Ghost Town, we immediately realize that our tents are missing. This, of course, is Hitch #10. It’s mid-October. Temperatures in the Yankee Fork drop to 20 degrees and below each night. Unfazed, the Killer Trees weighed their options, none of which included returning to Moyer Base. Luckily, the Posse is a very good-looking and resourceful bunch, undeterred in the face of adversity. Solution: fashion a fort from various available materials, including a jank blue tarp nearing disintegration, a plethora of insulating garbage bags, two clear shower curtains, Kelly’s suicide bracelet of cording, warped tent stakes, and pieces of mismatched REI tents. All four slept comfortably and moistly in the brilliantly erected structure for the next four nights, refusing to abandon their hovel for the commonplace Zeta and Half-Dome tents that Jackie arrived with on day two.
Monday of Hitch #10 marked the first week of hunting season in the Salmon-Challis. Hunter’s bullets zinged through the air constantly, threatening to end the Posse’s U-route season early. Kernel K-Foo (as she insisted we call her) handed out uniforms – bright orange flagging tape with the words “Killer Tree” emblazoned on the side next to a skull and cross bones. We donned the tape creatively, each sporting a more ridiculous taped up outfit than the next to avoid death by hunter.
After conquering Montaῆa de Estes, nearly falling down mine shafts, warding off a shape-shifting demon, magically conjuring French toast and sausage flavor from quinoa and curry leftovers, and Nancy Drew-ing a suspicious bunch of murderous midnight miners, we evacuated at 5am on Sunday morning to Copper Basin, narrowly escaping being squashed to death by an evil hail storm.
True to its namesake, Copper Basin was wonderfully copper in color, the tree’s fall leaves vivid against the surrounding snow-covered peaks. The Killer Tree Posse laughs in the face of high elevation and late-season lightening storms. The nights at Copper Basin were cold.
John later described this U-routes hitch as the “…manliest hitch I’ve ever been on.” When asked his opinion on the various triumphs and incidi encountered by the fearless crew, his one-track mind stayed focused on the group’s visits to the Challis Taco Bus, verifying: “I love burritos!”
SZ Trails: Hitch 10 Hitch Lead: Eric
Hitch Members: Dan, Jason, Steph,
Digging in a foot of mud and frequent gunshots in the background is
reminiscent of a war zone. In fact, we were doing trail maintenance
on Corral Creek during hunting season. We were all about safety
though; Bright yellow helmets and orange safety jackets. The work
centered on drainage structures: Dip Drains, Rock Water Bars and Check
Steps. When we returned for the second week, the weekend rain proved
our structures to be successful. Wildlife we saw included a
red-tailed hawk and the occasional scared deer. The totals for the
work we completed: 100' Tred Maintenance, 800' Brushing, 1 Wood Water
Bar, 4 Rock Check Steps, 13 Rock Water Bars, 28 Dip Drains.
Wildlife Hitch 9,
The wildlife crew started the hitch going back to Leadore. It consisted of 2 full days of hiking across mountain ranges in search of Aspen. On one of the hikes, we ended in the bowl of a mountain side with a view of a talus lake. At night, our camp was littered with gnats and mosquitoes, driving us into our tents by 8pm at the latest. Once this was done, we headed back to Moyer to finish up some leftover stands that were unreachable in May due to high water levels. We were also assigned to close some temporary Forest Service roads, which was something new to both crew members. We drove into some pretty insane scenery while doing this which made it completely worthwhile. Once on some of the mountain passes, you were able to see the plumes of smoke rising from the local fire. Little did we know that this sight was finally about to end. Over the next few days of hitch, we were dumped on by rain and had the first snow of the season. Each morning we set off on foot straight up the mountains in search of aspen. This hitch was a little different. The feeling of autumn was in the air and was extremely visible. The fall colors brought about a sense of ease to us and felt like the season was anew. Even though the weather wasn’t the most opportune for hiking, we still traveled some major expanses to find the aspen. At the end of the day, soaking wet, we were able to go back to Moyer and eat a warm meal and dry off, thankfully.
Hitch 9 South Zone Trails
Hitch Lead Brett Murphy
We split South Zone Hitch 9 into two parts with a weekend in between. The first half, we jumped around fixing stream crossings and helped shut down the Custer ghost town. The second half of the hitch, we worked on tread and brushing. Inclement weather ended our hitch by about a half-day as snow was setting in on higher elevations.
Hitch 9 BLM Discovery Hill
Hitch Leaders John and Dan
For our second to last hitch of the season, we worked with the BLM using vertical mulching techniques to close roads on Discovery Hill, or as we preferred to call it, Disco Hill. Vertical mulching basically consists of replanting vegetation on a closed road as well as aerating and seeding over it in order to disguise it and hopefully prevent future use. We had an arsenal of BLM tools at our disposal, including pulaski’s, shovels, hoes, loppers, mcleod’s and picks to name a few, and each person developed their own system on how best to replant and aerate the dense soil.
Our crew technically consisted of two four-man crews, but we camped, cooked, and worked together as one large crew. We passed the time while working playing games like contact and the helmet game; however, the highlight of the hitch had to be getting buzzed by a local retiree in a motorized glider 20 feet above our heads, and then having him drop Hershey kisses on us in the middle of our work day. The work itself was pretty back-breaking, working ten hour days hacking at the soil in all types of weather; the first week the sun beat down on us all day every day, and the second week we were pounded by wind and rain. Overall though the hitch was pretty successful, getting fourteen roads closed over eight days and compiling the data in a user friendly format for the BLM for future projects on Disco Hill.
Girl power ignites,
During Beaver Creek u-routes.
Send more Nutella.
Hitch 8 South Zone Trails
So Long Stanley…….Another trails hitch at Cape Horn! You know what that means don’t ya?! We have to work hard but we also get to play hard. Thanks to the Cape Horn Guard Station, every work day was followed by our crew coming “home,” turning on the music, cooking and eating dinner as a family, jokes and laughs, maybe a shower, and a movie. Sounds pretty rough huh?
Our first week out, the crew was at fast Valley Creek Trail. Our mission? A few checks steps, filling in a 40ft. entrenchment with rock, re-din two ditches for culverts, and replace the curbs o either side of the bridge. The idea was to build a sort of ramp on either side of the bridge to make it an easier pass for the ATV’s. So we hauled rock in for that and put in a check step on each side to keep those rocks from rolling away. There were culverts placed in both sides already but since they were poking out we had to dig them out, make the hole bigger, and then bury them in again. We joked about how much we just loved to dig a hole, then fill it back in. We then had to replace the log curbs on the bridge. Our sawyer felled us two nice trees, we limbed them and used some draw knives to remove the bark. That was a nice break from hauling and crushing rock. We wound up finishing early and scrambled a bit to stay busy the last day. What can I say, we’re just that good!
The next week we had to finish up some projects from the previous crew. Our mission? To become best friends with shovels and double jacks. We had to haul rocks and dirt to fill and cover two causeways. They both are on Knapp Creek a ways and it took us about an hour to hike into each morning. At 2:40, it’s just a nice way to start the day. We put four check steps in the second causeway and we all know what the entails. Lots of rock and lots of crushing went down after those check steps. To pass the time we counted how many times we each got hit from the flying shards. I didn’t get to see a moose on this hitch either, but there’s still time I suppose.
This was our last hitch in Stanley, Idaho, I’d say we went out with a BANG!!!
Hitch 8 Wildlife
Hitch 8 consisted of a crew of three headed down to Leadore. We hiked many miles up and down the mountain sides. The first week we really enjoyed eating wild strawberries and raspberries. We got to basically play leapfrog across streams to complete our inventory work on Aspen. The second week our crew was back to two people and the same area. We got to hike to a mountain lake called Everson. It was stunning. In the evenings we came back to camp to have a nice fire and as one of my team mates called them African spotted marshmallows. He decided this because I got the idea to roast a mellow on a spoon with holes in it so we ended up with spotted marshmallows. During the two week we had all kinds of weather even a little slush. As for wildlife we saw deer and pronghorn antelope. Along the journey we also got to meet many people and explore some old cabins. All in the entire hitch went really well and many new memories made while being stylish in hunters orange.
Hitch 7 South Zone Trails
SZ Trails was back at it along Knapp Creek Trail outside of Stanley, ID. Braving 20 F nightly lows and pestering horseflies, we wrapped up work on a causeway previously started by the last SZ crew and shored up a highly eroded bank on one side of a stream fording either several timber check steps, some with diameters of up to 16 inches. After finishing up the last check step, we received a call from Central Idaho with an order to return to Salmon ASAP, and so packed up essential gear and hiked out 5 miles to the trailhead with in 2 ½ hours. We spent the night as guests at the Cape Horn Guard Station before waking up bright and early for the long ride to the Salt Fire Incident Command Post to rejoin our fellow evacuees. On the whole, the hitch was a success, with our Forest Service contact expressing his satisfaction regarding the completed work, and also dealing with the unforeseen circumstances of our early departure.
Wildlife Hitch #7 Writeup—
For hitch #7, the Wildlife crew predominantly worked in the Wild Horse Allotment of the forest. Dozens of Aspen stands were inventoried in the many canyons along the North Fork of the Big Lost river (within the allotment). While the hikes were spectacular, the health of the stands was not; the regeneration of many stands was clearly suffering from cattle grazing. Additionally, we were able to identify and notify the forest service of improper sheep grazing in stands where an effort had already been made to improve stand health by mitigating conifer infiltration. For five days, we stayed at the Wild Horse Guard station, appreciating both the beautiful views and the bright green shag carpet. During the second half of the hitch we returned to the North Zone of the forest. After spending only a night near Leadore, however, we were called back to regroup with our entire program in response to a wildfire that threatened our base.
Hitch 7 Veg.
This vegetation hitch was a little different than previous vegetation hitches, in more ways than one. We started out with Ponderosa Pine pinecone counts. This entailed looking at pinecones through binoculars to find ones that were the right size, shape, color, etc for a seed bank in Boise. They would eventually use these seeds for re-vegetation projects in post burn areas. Besides exploring new areas of the Salmon-Challis National Forest, we were staying at a firefighter’s memorial where a bunch of firefighters were staying for the fires that were occurring locally. This was a good way to meet new people with the USFS. Showers were available for everyone to clean up after a long days work, but the SCA crew opted to go swimming in the Salmon River instead….much more fun! We ended up finishing our work about four days sooner than expected so the Vegetation crew joined the U-Routes. After a full day and a half of work with U-Routes, Central Idaho Dispatch called us via radio deeming it necessary for everyone to evacuate to Salmon due to the local fire spreading too close to our housing corridors. With only about 9 out of 15 of our crew members there, we had a Hot shot crew get flown in via chopper to drive the remaining vehicles down to Salmon. Once at the incident camp, our hitch resumed by learning all the inner workings of what makes a fire camp run. Talk about organization. New people and new experiences can’t complain about that.
Hitch 7 U-routes:
This u-routes hitch began with a mix of two veterans and two newbies. John and Eric had no previous u-routes experience, but Brett changed that and by the end of the first day they were trimble-using machines. We were primarily confined to areas near Moyer due to the raging Salt Fire of 2011, and the plumes of smoke that we witnessed from the opposite ridges were epic. We were at times convinced that the apocalypse had arrived.
By day six we got the word to evacuate Moyer. Together with Veg, we packed up the base and within an hour and a half a crew of very cute heli-rappellers were escorting us out via North Fork. We spent the remainder of hitch at the Incident Command Post fire camp where they fed us 6000 calories per day and allowed us to witness the planning process of fighting wildland fire. It wasn't pertinent to u-routes, but it was an exciting experience and definitely something to write home about.
WILDLIFE: Hitch 6 Write-Up
Our first task was to finish up surveying for aspen in the Lost River Range area. After driving about 5 hours, we hiked several miles up Van Dorn canyon before we found any stands. All the while, my team-mate and I enjoyed pockets of wildflowers, squeaking pikas, and munching on some wild raspberries. After inventorying a few stands that were “hidden” up dry canyons, where high winds had recently toppled over many large conifers, we returned to the trailhead and set up camp for the night.
Then we moved onto the Wild Horse Allotment, where we were to stay at one of the trailers at the W.H. Guard Station. When we arrived, the guards were gone, so we had to choose between one of two trailers; we chose the one that had especially nifty décor (straight out of the1970’s) and didn’t have hantavirus warning signs! Although, later, I found a dead mouse under my bed (a big “thank you” to my crewmate for throwing it out for me!). But having a retreat from mosquitoes was a huge relief! Besides the simple joys of having electricity to cook, lights to read or power to watch the occasional movie at night, hot water for showers, and cozy beds, we were also blessed by having such wonderful hosts! The guard station couple (and their adorable dog), were very hospitable, inviting us over for dessert and some awesome stories!
But back to the aspen-hunt…
At first, we tried to follow the map of aspen stands surveyed in the past, but after searching in vain for our species amongst thick willow stands, we soon realized the data was no longer accurate. Just across the road from the W.H.G.S., however, we found our first plots in plain sight, along the edge of steep slopes, where creeks or springs flowed. Other project areas highlighted by the South Zone Wildlife Biologist required more travel; so we hiked up the Salmon-Challis-National-Forest’s only wheel-chair accessible trail towards the lovely Fall Creek waterfalls.
Later, while making our way towards Kane Creek, we saw some pronghorn in the sagebrush at the base of the epic mountain known as the Devil’s Bedstead. With such ominous-sounding names, I should’ve been warned of the dangers ahead… I was just getting over a nasty case of stomach flu and with my renewed energy-levels, was bushwhacking through willows when I was suddenly stung on the lip by some bee-type insect! My mouth swelled up, but I was fortunately not suffering a severe reaction, although I was slightly sedated by the precautionary Benadryl I took, so my crewmate was kind to take me back to the trailer and catch up on data-entry/paperwork while he surveyed a few nearby stands.
As I recovered, we finished up the allotment by surveying the North Fork of the Big Lost River. There, mostly (non-inventory) points were taken, due to the extreme slopes of the
scree-fields. It was interesting to witness some of the previous “aspen treatments,” where any young conifers were cut into slash-piles and ironically, the aspen suckers were being grazed upon by a herd of sheep. Coincidentally, we met the folks administering these treatments; they seemed somewhat surprised by the stock-invasion (I can only hope they then asked the shepherd to move the flock).
Overall, we drove over 700 miles, hiked over 25 miles, and surveyed about 95 stands (70 acres worth) of aspen. We also saw a ton of gorgeous Idaho wilderness and had some good times!
Step By Step Instructions for Jack Fence Building
1. Load each log for jacks onto the flatbed.
2. Drive to said location in the road and fire line all logs across creek. Make sure to put some waders on!
3. The logs are labeled a number 1-20 and each has a matching pair. Once all supplies are across creek, match up each of the pairs. (#20 with #20)
4. Carry the pairs along where the fence is to be built, and place about 10 feet apart.
5. Nail the jacks together and repeat #’s 4 and 5.
6. Upon completion, start a fire line for carrying all the rails across the stream as well.
7. Since the rails are heavy, call in a sawyer to fell rails where they are needed. For each 20 ft section of fence, 4 rails are needed.
8. Your team of workers will be segmented into “Haulers” and “Nailers.” The Haulers will carry rails to a section of fence and hold them in place while the Nailers use a single jack to pound an 8 in nail through the rail and into the jack of the fence.
9. Switch workers once they get tired to the opposite job they are doing when they tire and repeat #8 until the fence in complete.
Nails and Rails
Our team worked out at Moose Creek building this jack fence in order to restore and maintain the vegetation around the creek. It was a lot of work but we had a ton of fun with all the people that lended a hand. To pass the time we would count how many hits it would take each person to completely get the nail into the jack. The men would generally get between 10 and 20 while the women would trail slightly behind them with 30 or 40. I personally liked to count how many times I would miss the nail completely and hit the rail instead. We also had the opportunity to hear some of the history behind Moose Creek and Dump Creek. Back in the day when the Moose was being mined, the sediment from it was being put into Dump Creek. Eventually the Dump could not hold it all and a HUGE chasm was created as all of it washed away into the Salmon River. It is quite a site to see if you ever get the chance. They are now putting small meanders into the Moose as part of rehabilitation. It was nice to see the bigger picture and understand what our efforts in the fence were really for.
Hitch Report #6:
Kendra, Jason, Kelly and John
The first and only CDT hitch!
My crew was stationed near Big Whole Pass at 8,000 feet in a very nice ponderosa pine forest with lush, low, green underbrush. The area was deafeningly quiet and fairly remote, aside from a group of ATVs carrying dogs wearing goggles. It was the perfect place for Kelly to refine her skills in a manual transmission. She defiantly got the hang of it and we were all proud and a bit relieved. The trail required light maintenance, mainly brushing and short stretches of tread work. Our favorite work was clearing the snags from the path. On Saturday we volunteered to clean up the river, which entailed a VERY enjoyable float down the Salmon! We collected plenty of plastic, cans, irrigation tubes, tires, an axle from an old wooden wagon, a paddle and a dog toy. The crew enjoyed a day full of laughter, relaxation and a well-deserved day in the sun. After the float, we were invited to a BBQ at Morgan Bar and made our way after filling our water jugs and gassing up the truck. One more stop to the famous Salmon Bakery proved once again how amazingly hospitable this town is when they loaded us up with a bag of pastries. We were thrilled, full and even enjoyed a phenomenal sunset from the peak next to our campsite.
Our crew spent the second half of the hitch at Corn Creek on a bridge assignment just inside the Frank Church Wilderness of No Return. The restrictions of the wilderness limit the crew from using power tools. All of our drilling, skill saw cuts and chainsaw work had to be done up the trail from the bridge site. The temperature hovered between 98 and 102 degrees and our work was laborious, thank god for the river to cool off in after the work day was over! All the heavy beams, timber, gabions and railroad ties for the new bridge had to be hauled in and all the old bridge material hauled out. Though our job resembled that of mules, the crew’s moral remained high and the project chugged along. We removed the old bridge and supporting structure and used gabion baskets as a new foundation for the replacement stringers and planks. Unfortunately, the hitch ended before we were able to see the project through to completion.
All in all, this CDT hitch was upbeat, hot, fun and enjoyable thanks to the fabulous crew, beautiful surroundings and a day on the river.
Hitch 6 South Zone Trails
This hitch we completed one turnpike and began another in the southern half of the Salmon-Challis National Forest near Stanley, ID. While out in the woods we experimented with spear-making, sleeping in tarps instead of SCA provided tents, and creating fire with bow drills. One of our Forest Service contacts stayed out with us one night and cooked us a pie of gram crackers, grits, apples, cinnamon, and marsh mellows. Needless to say it was delightful.
Logs were felled, rocks were gathered, and fish habitat was protected. All and all it was a decent hitch. We got to see Salmon spawning in the river, they must have been three feet long.
Hitch 5 South Zone Trails
For Hitch 5 Joe, Brett, Kelly, Stephanie, Dan, Nina and I (John) were assigned to South Zone trails, working at a new location just south of Stanley. We had pretty plush accommodations as far as trails hitches go, staying at the Cape Horn guard station where we had access to a kitchen, shower and bathroom. Our two forest service liaisons who worked with us were also awesome: Steve, who had a striking resemblance to Mario but was all business with a chainsaw, and Tanner who let us use his kitchen and gave us western dance lessons at the end of each day. We spent the hitch building a 70 food turnpike over two small drainages on an ATV trail near to Winnemucca Creek, about 45minutes up a dirt road from Cape Horn. There were several phases in the construction of the turnpike. First we had to find adequately long logs that would become the stringers and sills of the turnpike measure them to perfect length and strip them of their bark. Simultaneously we dug trenches for the culverts and for where the stringers would eventually lay. This entire time two or three people would be driving one of the trucks to collect rocks for what was to later become the bulk and surface of the culvert. The most difficult task had to be measuring and cutting the wood to the correct size; Dan was the measurement expert for the joints that would connect the stringers together as well as to the sills, and Steve taught Joe his masterful ways with a chainsaw to cut the joints. The last few days were spent shuttling rocks to the site and crushing them into place, during which we managed to break two double jacks. Unfortunately we ran out of time to finish the project completely, though it was officially passable for hikers and ATV’s; all that was really left was to cover the turnpike with thinner fill and make it look pretty.
Overall it was definitely a successful hitch; morale stayed high the entire time, we ate well and we really felt like we were working on a project that would make a tangible difference. The only real complaint we had was the weather; it rained at exactly two o’clock almost every day, and we got some pretty intense lightning a couple days. One of the biggest highlights had to be the South Zone trail boss, Phil McNeil, coming count on two occasions to check out our progress and repeatedly saying how he thought we were doing a great work; on his second visit heeven worked the double jack for a bit and put us all to shame. Trail work can be a grind, but when you’re working with awesome people and feel you are actually making a positive impact it makes all the difference.
|End of Season|
|SCA Idaho AmeriCorps|
|Jackie Lucero (Program Manager)|
|Joe Naiman (Project Leader)|
|Megan Petermann (Project Leader)|
|Hitch 10 Wildlife, Hitch Lead: Jess and Jeff|
|Hitch 10 North Zone U-route, Hitch Lead: Stevi Member: Brett, Jenna, Kyle|
|Hitch 10 South Zone U-route, Hitch Lead: Kendra Member: Kelly, Andrea, John|
|Hitch 10 South Zone, Hitch Lead: Eric Member: Jason, Steph, Dan|
|Hitch 9 Wildlife, Hitch Lead: Jason Member: Jeff|
|Hitch 9 South Zone Trails, Hitch Lead: Brett Member: Jenna, Jess, Kendra, Kelly|
|Hitch 9 BLM Discovery Hill, Hitch Lead: Dan and John Member: Andrea, Kyle, Stevi, Eric, Nina, Steph|
|Hitch 8 U-Routes, Hitch Lead: Andrea Member: Kelly,Stevi, Nina|
|Hitch 8 South Zone Trails, Hitch Lead: Stephanie Member: John, Jeff, Eric|
|Hitch 8 Wildlife, Hitch Lead: Jenna and Jason Member: Jess|
|Hitch 7 South Zone Trails, Hitch Lead: Dan Member: Nina, Kelly, Kyle, Jess|
|Hitch 7 Wildlife, Hitch Lead: Jeff Member: Jenna|
|Hitch 7 Veg., Hitch Lead: Jason Member: Stephanie, Kendra, Stevi|
|Hitch 7 U-routes, Hitch Lead: Andrea Member: Brett, Eric, John and sometimes Stephanie|
|Hitch 6 Wildlife, Hitch Lead: Jess Member: Jeff|
|Hitch 6 Hydro, Hitch Lead: Stephanie Member: Stevi, Andrea, Brett|
|Hitch 6 North Zone Trails, Hitch Lead: Kendra Member: John, Kelly, Jason|
|Hitch 6 South Zone Trails, Hitch Lead: Nina Member: Eric, Jenna, Dan, Kyle|
|Hitch 5 South Zone, Hitch Lead: John Member: Brett, Kelly, Stephanie, Nina|
|Hitch 5 North Zone, Hitch Lead: Jeff Member: Kendra, Andrea, Stevi|
|Hitch 5 Travel, Hitch Lead: Eric, Kyle|
|Hitch 5 Wildlfe, Hitch Lead: Jason Member: Jess|
|Hitch 4 U-Route, Hitch Lead: Kelly members Dan|
|Hitch 4 Veg, Hitch Lead: Kyle Members: Jess, Brett|
|Hitch 4 Travel, Hitch Lead: Kendra and Nina|
|Hitch 4 South Zone Trails, Hitch Lead: Eric Members: John, Andrea, Stephanie, Jeff|
|Hitch 4 Wildlife, Hitch Lead: Jenna Member: Jason|
|Hitch 3 Veg, Hitch Lead: Nina Members: Kyle, Steph, Jason|
|Leave No Trace Bighorn Crags July 23-25,2011|
|Hitch 3 South Zone Trails, Hitch Lead: Andrea Members: Kendra, Stevi, John, Eric|