Project Leader Name: Megan Petermann Project Dates: June 4, 2010 - Nov. 21, 2010 Email Address: email@example.com
Hitch 6, Lack’s Creek Field Write-Up
The early morning ruckus of 4 break days in Samoa Dunes—ATVs revving, boats and barges humming, a camper-neighbor’s chatter and other evidence of human occupation—is an old artifact now as we sit on our stoops around our Tupperware table. At 8:30pm the silence at our Lack’s Creek camp is so pristine that the cracks underfoot from an afternoon jaunt up the hill to the latrine make us skittish: “bear? Mountain lion? I hope it’s an elk!” By now, after riding a full 10 days here from last hitch, we’re not so ‘green’ toward frontcountry living but cherish this…comparatively ritzy (food smorgasbord, long-hiking famine!) existence. Rolling in from Arcata on Mon 8/16 we found our campsite hotter, emptier, and well-colonized with mosquitoes before we re-tarped our ‘mascot’ tan oak and made our cozy kitchen. Here we’d perfect our rummy and pitch finesse over evening tea, zapped from hard work, before waking up at 7am to a new tent arrangement. This Monday we awoke on Humboldt Bay, did our routine Hitch Day 1 prep—Target for officework and budgeting, food shopping, and parking lots for tidying the trailer—and drove 2hrs to our campsite before making ‘home’ late in the afternoon and discussing the next 9 days.
Day 2, 8/17, Bruce Cann and Ranger Casey met us here at 10am; as a work-task preview they escorted us around the Western slope of Lack’s Creek, stopping at 4 focus locations. At each one was a trickle of water embedded in a hillside…an ‘untamed spring’. An afternoon with Bruce and Casey, and the novelty of 3-4 new springs into our repertoire, was a nice breather after a full last hitch of treading a multi-use trail. After 3 days of springwork we’d continue with this trail until the last day, but many of us shared enthusiasm for these special projects: 2 springs, 1 clearing, 3 site ‘personalities’.
Day 3, 8/18, we began with Priority 1, a spring site around a pond we lovingly called Meditation Spring (or Bee Spring from a ‘landmine’ bee colony under a log); here we would both install a spring and add tread). The spring site itself was obscured behind the pond and was inaccessible, so we flagged a blueprint footpath (human, not horse) from the dirt road, around the pond, through a dense thicket, and to the spring site. For our first 2hrs all 6 of us assisted in sawing, weed-wrenching obstructions, and mattocking out the stumps on the heavily-sloped land. A mammoth rotting log lay in our way and, with Casey’s help, managed to dislodge it after 2hrs and heave it out of the path. Casey came armed with a chainsaw, and this helped with clearing some big debris further toward the spring. After lunch we began benching from the road inward, stopping at the perilous bee nest under the big log…Casey, ever the trooper, escaped with only one sting! We agreed to leave a 40ft section incomplete, waiting until Sunday when Casey could exterminate the hive. For the remaining 2hrs 4 of us began preparing and clearing mud and rock for the spring itself; after some struggling with the finicky water source we managed to install and secure the tub.
Day 4, 8/19, began with a foray into 100acre Field, a bubble of cell service that enabled us to stretch and conduct some hitchleader business. At 10am we began Priority 2, not really a spring so much as a streamside clearing we would flatten, refine, and enable horses to enter, drink from the stream pools, and turn around. This occupied us for 3hrs, leaving a smooth and comfortable…horse ‘bar’. Ending this site with time to spare we finally drove to Priority 3, a dual spring installation and horse-to-pond ramp, and spent the last hour carving the slope (3people) and preparing the spring (3people).
Day 5, 8/20, we battened our hatches and dove into what felt like the most scorching day in Lack’s Creek. Today’s project may take us a few hours, all day, or even spill into the next…there was no telling but to start. For 5hrs 3 of us worked on the roughly 10’ by 6’ (60ft squared) slope toward the pond, creating a slope that would please a horse with (maybe) a rider. Meanwhile, 3 of us carved into the water source about 100ft from the pond, hunted for anchor and support rocks, placed the oval tub, and finally sealed it in with mud-crete. It’s tedious work ‘capturing’ water…victoriously we finished this project today and looked forward to resuming our treadwork tomorrow.
En route to our trail on Day 6, 8/21, an unaggressive rattlesnake lay under a tree by our path, our first sighting in Lack’s Creek, second overall! Avoiding a strike, we resumed our treadwork on a lower section of the multi-use trail and, after a good, solid 8hrs of tread including a 10ft rock retaining wall, we concluded with 200ft of smooth tread. It was pleasingly cool after yesterday, ending a crisp evening…if only it weren’t fire season and campfires were permitted…
Day 7, 8/22, began with a brisk, mosquito-free breakfast, drive back to Priority 1 Spring, and a good stretch at the site. We approached bee territory not like daredevils but with the caution of workers intending to finish the day’s work uninjured. However, the trail necessitated the removal of certain debris to get work done and I must have disturbed the bees, avoiding a sting. Until Casey came and sprayed the nest we heavily benched and cleared parts of that 40ft section and finished after lunch with a silky-smooth trail+spring. After lunch we took a field trip to the Eastern slope of Lack’s Cr, absorbing our working environment and stopping for berries along the way.
Day 8, 8/23, was a sequel to last Saturday’s work on the trail, only we exceeded the tread length by 135ft, leaving 335ft of trail on a gnarly stretch, 2 beautiful 3.5ft drains (2people on each), 1 5ft drain (3people), and one rockless drainage flume (1person). I ended the day feeling accomplished, and I think this feeling was mutual.
We awoke on Day 9, 8/24, sweating in our sleeping bags. We knew today we’d hammer out the trail’s finale before 2:30 when we’d return to clean tools, inventory food, and generally prepare for tomorrow’s evacuation. The flagged to-be-trail snaked across decommissioned logging roads, making us level packed dirt ‘speed bumps’ and uproot quite a few stumps. That didn’t stop us, though, from treading 300ft and concluding this hitch in good spirits…was that really 10 days??