Hitch 14: I think, Therefore I Gnar
Our last hitch started by packing up our camp in Joshua Tree National Park early morning heading into San Bernardino (SBD). Once in SBD we embarked on our final customary stops to Costco and Home Depot. After shopping we caravanned to the Silverwood Lake campground group sites and began setting up our camp. Later in the afternoon our PCTA contact Greg Baxter showed up to scout the section trail we would be working on with Tim. The next day we piled into the truck for a short driving commute to the PCT access the trail we were to use. Nate stayed back camp this day due to a 24 hour gnarness bug he was fighting hard. Tim and Tony ran the anti-gnar-saw while Carolyn, Kristen, and Matt dug drain dips and worked on tread. Day three of hitch found us at the Hesperia Public Library doing end of season paper work. The day in town turned out to be super productive for everyone on the crew but we found we were just as exhausted at the end of day as we would be from trail work. The next day when we arrived at the work site, Tony realized he had left his pack back at camp so he and Tim had to drive back and retrieve it. When they got back they resumed anti-gnar-sawing again while the other four members all did tread. At one point during the day Tony and Tim played a game of Tetris with the saw when a small screw fell into the exhaust casing. Day five of hitch Nate and Matt took a turn running the saw while Carolyn, Kristen, and Tony did tread. Throughout the day Tim did one on one end of the season evaluations with each of us. He jokingly fired each us for bad performance during the season. Our second to last trail work day Tim spent running the saw and absolutely destroying the gnar while the rest of the crew worked on rock projects. Tony and Kristen did a rock wall/cribbing, Matt worked on a rock waterbar, and Nate and Carolyn worked on tread and a check step. The next day will prove to live in infamy for generations of gnar to come. It was our last flair Friday and our last day of work on the PCT, our home for the past six months. Every crew member went all out with their flair and it payed off. We all looked amazing our last day on the trail. For work that day we all worked together doing tread and lopping the gnar. At the end of the work day Greg stopped by again presented us with Federal Adventure Passes, water bottles, and certificate of appreciation from the Forrest Service. That night we celebrated and had a grand dinner underneath the stars. The final day of the hitch we spent cleaning and repairing gear before we set off for a few days of leisure in Ontario, CA.
Fall in South Lake Tahoe is a splendid time of year. Having multiple days off was much needed for our minds and bodies. There is always something to do in the Lake Tahoe area and we spent our days off scattered to the wind. We came back together at the library on Sunday night and heard about everyone's weekend with stories and a massive Ice Cream Cake.
We got up early and noticed that it was still dark well into our morning routine. We met Justin, our PCTA contact, at the trailhead and talked with him for a while after we were packed up for our 5 day hitch. We were given the goal of rehabilitating a ½ mile section of old jeep track, which the current PCT and the Tahoe Rim Trail use. A two track road running through pristine meadows needed to be reduced to a single track hiking trail.
We set up camp near the historic Miess Cabin with the headwaters of the Truckee River flowing right behind it. We didn't waste any time and got to work that day tilling the earth on the track we wanted to close down. It was different work than we've had most of this year and it was a nice change of pace to rehabilitate a section of tread rather than create new trail. We spent the next 4 days tilling the downhill track and transplanting both live and dead plants. There's no perfect way to rehab an old road through a meadow but you can at least give the land the time it needs by keeping people off of it.
Vertical mulch is what some people call it. Burying stuff is what others say. We hauled dirt and branches, rocks, leaves, and grass to cover the lower track until it became a creative thing. It was interesting to see what sorts of things people were finding to block the lower track. A giant mushroom was one of the best. By the end of thursday we had successfully blocked off and started a rehabilitation process for a 0.6 mile section of the PCT. We spent the last day going the south on the trail clearing brush and doing basic tread maintenance. It was a slow hike out to the parking lot but a great way to finish the hitch and soak in some final views.
After saying goodbye to Mammoth Lakes for the summer and enjoying some epic days off, our crew headed north a bit to the Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest for our next hitch. After spending 2 months in Mammoth we were very excited to move north and see a few new parts of the Sierra's. Joining us on this hitch were 3 volunteers with the PCTA, (Lucian, Emile, and Justin), along with 2 Forest Service trail workers (Sarah and Heidi). We met with volunteers and agency folks and the Leavitt Meadows trailhead just south of Sonora Pass. Thank goodness we got packed in for this hitch because the hike in was 12 miles. We set out following the West Walker River as the trail snaked along side it for most of the hike. We're just north of Yosemite National Park and this area is somewhat of a last hoorah for the high Sierra's. One final stretch of high elevation granite with many volcanic rock formations starting to take their place at the southern end of the Cascade range.
We clearly underestimated, and had forgotten, the amount of food that two 18 year old boys can eat when, after the first morning, nearly all of our breakfast food was gone. Wondering if we were going to have enough food by the end became a constant nag in the back of our minds this hitch. We had a 2.5 mile section of trail to work on for these 10 days with instructions to fix and rehab anything that we deemed appropriate along that stretch. It was a very welcomed surprise and we now had the choice of what projects to work on for the hitch. Our section stopped right at the border of Yosemite National Park and stretched north from there. We started out on day one building check steps in the trail where it had been trenched out from years of use. On day two we set to work building a long turnpike through a seasonal wetland/pond type area. It took all of us nearly 3 days to finish the structure but by the end of the 3rd day, it was 45 feet long and we had gained almost 10 inches of relief from the muddy, swampy remnants of the old trail.
We spent the next several days brushing and clearing the trail of branches, rocks and obstructions. Sarah and Heidi took the PCTA volunteers out one day to log out some of the surrounding trails with a cross-cut saw. On the final day of the hitch, we scouted a section of trail just past the outlet stream for Harriet Lake. It was steep and poorly designed, leaving huge trenches and no place for water to flow off the trail. We broke off into groups and built 6 check steps, and crucial water bars and drain dips and vastly improved this short stretch of trail.
We installed several new signs during the week to replace old, rotten trail signs. As we approached the end of our section of trail, the last sign went in marking the end of our work week. It was an excellent hitch in the high country of the Hoover wilderness and it was nice to have such an interesting group of volunteers and Forest Service people to shake things up a bit for one hitch.
After spending a relaxing 4 days in Lake Isabella, our crew moseyed on up to Chimney Peak and eventually Kennedy Meadows in order to hike into Manter Creek on June 19th, which is located in the Dome Lands Wilderness. This hitch was a self-supported 7.5 mile hike in to get to the section of the PCT that began at Manter Creek and wound its way south through a massive burn...the Manter Creek Fire of 2000. Needless to say, our packs were all very heavy, filled with enough food for about 7 days. The other 3 day's worth of food would be brought in by Trevor Knight, who was coming to stay and play with us for a few nights while our fearless Project Leader, Mr. Tim Carroll attended a wedding in Connecticut. Is this a test?
Our work scheduled quickly changed from an 8 AM start to a 7 AM shotgun due to the scorching heat and no shade on the trail. A few times throughout the day we were able to tie up a tarp to provide a little double blue shade for us to eat our lunch. Trevor came to help us out on the evening of the 22nd. He unfortunately had grown a bit soft from sitting in his comfortable office in Boise, and so when some thru-hikers gave him some misinformation as to where he could find our campsite, meaning he followed a round-about trail down toward the Kern River and bush-whacked his way up to our campsite, he arrived with some pretty gnarly blisters all over his feet! Of course the 20 plus pounds of food we had left for him to pack in did not help his load much...sorry about that Trevor, all those oranges just didn't fit anywhere else.
Our days consisted of waking up early to do some stretching and "ninja-ing", working super hard until 3:30, taking about an hour long siesta, floating down the Kern River, cooking some amazing dinners, and gazing up at the sky inundated with brilliant stars. Of course there were some pretty crazy times...gnarosis (a condition you can get from being in gnarly brush for too long) basically set in for nearly all of us at some point or another. Tims decided to play in the gnar...that was just the beginning. (The gnar in the dome lands consisted of extremely poky bushes that seemed to engulf you once you set foot in them to try to trim them back...super gnarly.) Carolyn got attacked by some raging red ants...ants in the pants are never good. Trevor's blisters, although wrapped heavily in duct tape, seemed very painful. Nate got stung by something...perhaps a scorpion...that made his hand go numb for most of the day. Tony pulled out a sagebrush only to find a little rattlesnake playing hide-and-seek...yikes! And Matt, the lucky man that he is, received his trail name...Snake Charmer. After floating the Kern River one day, he was sitting on a large rock drying off (the exact rock that Brendan had been jumping off of all week) until he felt what he thought was Trevor caressing his hand. Yes, Trevor has soft hands. But when Matt looked down he saw a rattlesnake crawling directly over his hand and into a crack in the rock! CRAZY!!!!! A little freak-out was definitely in order. But on the second-to-last day, Tim came back...with In 'n' Out burgers for all of us!!!! He saved the day because we were beginning to run out of food..."would you like a side of tortilla to go with that bread?" Let's just say we learned to be very creative with vegetable bullion and tortillas. Thanks Uncle T-Bone!
The work report:
After we backpacked 7.5 miles into Manter Creek in the Dome Lands Wilderness, we began work on the PCT about one-quarter mile from our campsite. Our first project was the Manter Creek water crossing. We cleared the corridor of all the overgrown rose bushes and other foliage and made a more defined crossing for hikers. The creek is fairly small so stepping stones worked wonderfully. The rest of that day was spent widening the trail to 18 inches, clearing the berm, redefining the trail by placing dead snags on either side, and building four drain dips about 40 to 50 feet apart to help with water shed. As we started making our way south away from Manter Creek, gaining in elevation, we had to incorporate more brushing and clearing of the corridor as well as bench cutting to widen the trail. Rock retaining walls were necessary in some parts as the outer edge of the banks began to get steeper and steeper. There was one particularly tidious section of rock work that required us to completely rebuild a pre-existing wall that was in complete shambles. This section was about 16 feet long and about 3 tiers high. Nearly everyday consisted of us doing some intensive rock work as well as grubbing and brushing the trail. Our team started to work like a well-oiled machine: 2 people would clear the corridor, next 2 people would use pick-mattocks to increase the tread width to at least 18 inches, and then 2 people would follow behind with McClouds to smooth it over. One day in the middle of the hitch, our crew hiked up about 3 miles to fix two sketchy sections in order to allow equestrians to safely use the trail. These two sections were probably the most treacherous mainly because of the steep outslope and crumbling rock walls. All in all, this hitch ran very smoothly and we performed some amazing trail work, as it was our goal to be very thorough
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn."
- John Muir -
When you first set foot on the Pacific Crest Trail, it is a strange feeling. Your standing on a dusty, rocky, 2 foot wide path. If you travel south, you can walk all the way to mexico, and north will take you into Canada. It's mind boggling.
In 1968 the National Trails System Act was passed by Congress. The legislation approved a series of trails throughout the US with the stated goal: "to promote the preservation of, public access to, travel within, and enjoyment and appreciation of the open-air, outdoor areas and historic resources of the Nation."
The Pacific Crest Trail is supported by the Pacific Crest Trail Association and it's generous members. They take on the monumental tasks of fundraising, volunteer coordination, maintenance and construcction, and mediator between the various federal and state land agencies which the PCT passes through.
Our crew is ready to get our hands dirty to help protect this national treasure that means so much to the people who enjoy it's use, and the communities surrounding it.
"Halfmile's" Google Earth Track
Once a wild cattle caller now turned trail worker via the traveling circus I’m excited to begin my PCT adventure extravagant. Most recently I’ve been traveling the woods of the Greater Western United States looking for the elusive free campground and the slightly less rare horseyus unicornus , known to the layman as a unicorn. One was sighted already on our PCT adventure near Ashland, Oregon. That’s pre’eey neat!
Now this is a story lasses and lads: I was born in Seattle raised on
and in the city of Bainbridge Island. I have grinded the proverbial
grindstone of education just shy a half turn at Western Washington
University and enjoy glimpses of the milky way and mountain crowned
sunsets. Concerning mountain and wilderness professionalism I worked
in Olympic National Park as Backcountry Ranger Intern a year past and
have hiked and explored a many hills and valleys, I also have a WFR
What’s up dudeskiis!!!! Me llamo Kristen and I am beginning my
adventures on the PCT as a fresh graduate of Boise State University
where I had many awesome opportunities for exploration having worked
for the BSU Outdoor Program. I am addicted to trying new things and
having awesome adventures, which is why I am proud to call the PCT my
new home and my crew members my new family…they are so awesome! I have
many hobbies including but not limited to climbing, kayaking,
snowboarding, and running. Bananas…enough said. And just remember,
only you can prevent forest fires.
|The Pacific Crest Trail|
|Tony Bossler - Member Bio|
|Nate Corke - Member Bio|
|Kristen Walker - Member Bio|
|Matt Cottam - Member Bio|
|Carolyn Collier - Member Bio|
|Tim Carroll, 26 - Project Leader|
|PCT 1 - 11/26 - 12/3 Hitch #14 I Think, Therefore I Gnar|
|PCT 1 - 11/12 - 11/20 Hitch #13 Silverwood Gnar 2, part 1|
|PCT 1 - 11/04 - 11/08 Hitch #12 This Gnar is Deep|
|PCT 1 - 10/21 - 10/30 Hitch #11 Return to Gnarnia|
|PCT 1 - 10/4 - 10/14 The Gnarth Pole......Brrrrr|
|PCT 1 - 9/26 - 9/30 Of Miess and Gnar|
|PCT 1 - 9/12 - 9/21 Gnaring Season is Now Open|
|PCT 1 - 8/29 - 9/07 In the Mountains of West Gnarlington|
|PCT 1 - ON THE RUN FROM THE LAW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!|
|PCT 1 - 8/15 - 8/23 Hitch #6 This Gnar Is Subject To Change|
|PCT 1 - 8/01 - 8/10 Hitch #5 Gnarly Structures|
|PCT 1 - 7/18 - 7/27 Hitch #4 Sick Nasty Gnar Gnar|
|PCT 1 - 7/04 - 7/13 Hitch #3 Welcome to the "Gnarlight" zone!|
|PCT 1 - 6/20 - 6/28 Hitch #2 IN 'n' OUT the "Gnar"|
|PCT 1 - 6/08 - 6/16 Hitch #1: The Chronicles of "Gnarnia"|
|PCT 1 - 5/23 - 6/03 Corps Member Training|