Project Leader: Heidi Brill Project Dates: February 2011-May 2011 Phone: 208.860.8728 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 96 Brentwood Drive Tehachapi, CA 93561
One more adventure comes to a close just as several others begin. It’s hard to believe that three months on the PCT has already passed!
After closing out a great last hitch and “buttoning up” all of the tools and gear in Tehachapi, the crew headed down to Scissor’s Crossing, site of their first hitch and a shadeless, waterless stretch of desert for the thru hikers. Bringing it all full circle, the crew shared their last couple of days together making some trail majic for the newly departed batch of 2011 thru-hikers.
They loaded the trailer with water, shade tarps, cold soda, foam swords, kites, as much junk food as possible and water guns, to host a trail-side party that even the weariest of hikers couldn’t turn down. In a 24 hour period, over 72 hikers came through (we couldn't keep up the count) to jump rope, eat twinkies, and relax in the shade. The crew’s sister PCT crew drove down from Joshua Tree to help out with the entertaining, the first reunition since the shared first hitch back in February! It felt good to know that our work is appreciated and a strong community supports our efforts!
Feeling good about ambushing overheated hikers with waterguns all day, the crew slept well under the stars and headed to the airport for their final farewells early on 5 May. But first, there was pie.
Good luck to the hikers and thanks to the hard-working trail crews!
A special thanks to all those who helped make our season a success:
With SCA in Boise, thanks to Chris Sparks, Trevor Knight, Lisa Hawkes, and Ron Hassel. Also thanks to our hardcore sister crew in JTree! Also also thanks to workskills instructor, Steve Hester.
With PCTA, thanks to Brendan Taylor, Sam Commarto, Merrit Hoeh, and Anitra Kass
To our dedicated volunteers, thanks to Levi Andre, Jacintha Roemer, Steve & Dianna Palmer, Roger Wheelock, George Boone, Pete Fish, Dennis Harfman, Dick Blizzard, Jeff Spindler, Bill Carter, Brianne Chamney, Jan Hofstettler, Lonnie Langdon, and Marion Davis.
AND MOST OF ALL, THANK YOU TO A FANTASTIC TRAIL CREW: Corey Hawkins, Alex Drewsie Drew, Danny Ross, Sarah Collins, and Andrew Vitale. Your hard work, positive attitudes, and dedication to service and conservation are admirable. Best of luck in your future endeavors.
21-30 April 2011
Owen’s Peak Wilderness, North of Walker Pass CA
Bright and early on the morning on April 21, we loaded up our truck and drove out to Walker Pass for our last hitch. This was the only hitch that was not made complicated or delayed by snow or pending government shutdown. On the last one, we finally got it right. Arriving at the campground, we were greeted by packer Bill Carter, PCTA volunteer coordinator Merrit Hoeh and our PCTA associate regional representative Brendan Taylor, as well as Bill’s dogs. Before we knew it, the mules were loaded up, and we were setting up shop again in the Morris Jenkins saddle. Everyone was excited about the warmer weather this hitch promised, and we were looking forward to our last days of work on the trail.
Our most impressive project was a 53 square foot stone retention wall. Before we stepped in, the tread was only a foot wide over a steep cliff; dangerous for horses to pass and challenging for hikers as well. This project was to be challenging from the beginning because we were building a retention wall on outsloped bedrock. At first, we lost many a rock down the cliff until we were able to find the perfect puzzle piece, a 2000 pound perfectly shaped beauty. Once that rock was in place and stable, we were able to build off of it and eventually make the tread much wider. This project tested our patience and rock moving abilities, but everyone is pleased with how it turned out. Brendan was especially pleased: “I did not think it was going to turn out this well after looking at the area, wow guys I’m impressed.” I believe were his exact words.
On Sunday, we all celebrated Easter in the backcountry! Some sort of magical bunny hid eggs around camp filled with chocolate, jelly beans, and “fortunes”. The fortunes included “your beard is as soft as a rabbits fur” and “your alter ego for the day: CHUCK NORRIS”. Everyone was thrilled to find them when they woke up, and even more excited that they got to eat more sugar. We left a few eggs on the trail for hikers before we headed off to work. They were quite pleased that we managed to not eat the candy in those eggs beforehand.
As we worked further down the trail, we put down the rock bars and picked up the McLoeds and saws. We dug ankle biter rocks out of the trail, put the pole saw to work removing high branches, and widened the tread. Walking down the trail now is a lot like walking down the catwalk. It’s wide and flat, with no rocks in the way or huge branches hitting you in the face. We are quite the glamorous crew. And if you question that, check out the patriotic stickers on Corey’s and Danny’s helmets. Courtesy of Heidi Brill and the Red White and Blue.
On our last day in the field, we made the epic trek up Owen’s Peak, the highest point in the southern Sierras at 8459 ft. From up on the peak, we could see the winding PCT that we had just worked on for the past three months. It was great to spend a fun day with the crew in the backcountry before we all go our separate ways.
That’s all from the field, happy trails to everyone!
-Alex Drewsie Drew
Total trail maintained: 6,781 ft
Trail reconstructed: 4,451 ft
Stone retention built: 356 sq ft
Pack animals used: 10
Agency contacts: 3
Number of guest interactions: 20 (!)
8 April-16 April 2011
Owen’s Peak Wilderness near Walker Pass, CA
The crew’s fourth hitch began with a bit of chaos, but at this point we can handle the chaos like pros. Our plan for the hitch was put on hold due to waiting on governmental budget decisions that determined whether or not we were allowed to work on public lands. While we were waiting in limbo we were stationed at Walker Pass, where we scouted several miles of trail with PCTA regional rep Brendan Taylor and BLM employee Shane Neal. After one night at Walker Pass we hit the road back to Tehachapi anticipating the hitch to be on hold. Three miles down the road and back in phone service, the crew was happy to hear a decision was reached late the previous evening among the big wigs which meant that we were in the clear to proceed with our hitch as planned. We turned the rig around and spread the news to the packers who helped us transport food, tools, water and gear to our campsite. Many thanks to Bill Carter, George Boone, Brianne Chamney, Jan Hofstettler and Lonnie Langdon.
In addition to the budget issues making our plans topsy-turvy, the crew also had to adjust to the absence of our dear crew member Andrew Vitale. Unfortunately the progress Andrew was making with his back injury took a turn for the worse before the hitch began, making him unable to join us in the field. In order to seek proper medical attention and not cause further damage to his back, Andrew has left the crew for the remainder of the season. He is thoroughly missed by everyone on the crew. We all support him and hope that he can heal up soon.
The site for this hitch, Owen’s Peak Wilderness, led us further into the backcountry than any of our previous hitches. The “True Sierras” begin to show themselves in this area so it was easier to get out of our tents in the morning knowing it meant seeing the sunrise over the mountains. Our work load was heavy with repairing stone retention structures that have seen better days. The crew re-built retention structures in their collapsed sections of the existing stone cribs along the trail. We also removed large rocks from the trail that could pose a problem for equestrians and hikers by making the corridor too narrow to pass safely. In between the larger projects we did treadwork; mostly re-benching the tread to widen the trail. Brushing was necessary in certain areas along the trail as well. We learned how stubborn yuccas can be--removing the plants encroaching on the trail took many powerful swings of the Pulaski. Volunteer Chris Ryerson joined the crew for the second half of the hitch and worked alongside the crew on various projects we undertook.
During this hitch the crew was confronted with many desert critters. We decided to move our camp kitchen after discovering we were potentially invading a family of scorpions on their turf. We will be returning to the same site for our final hitch later this week. The crew will be glad to return to the area to continue our work along this stretch of the PCT. Hopefully we will run into more sunshine and increasingly nice weather and less scorpions on our second run in the area.
Until next time,
Trail Maintained (ft): 10, 891
Stone Retention (sq ft): 340
Number of volunteers we worked with: 6
Stock used in packing: 12
27 March-3 April 2011
Oak Creek Canyon & Hwy 58, near Tehachapi CA
This hitch started out under unusual circumstances following a freak, early spring snowstorm. Originally, the crew was slated to spend ten days camped out in Oak Creek Canyon, but four feet of snow prevented this from happening and resulted in a two day delay of the hitch. Because of the two day delay, the crew was forced to work grueling ten hour days to make up for lost time. As it turned out, the road leading into Oak Creek Canyon, a primitive and rutted gravel path in the best conditions, proved impassable; leader Heidi Brill decided it would be in the best interest of the crew to rest in the relative safety of the crew house and commute to the work site daily.
Another unexpected aspect of this hitch was the injury of valued crew member Andrew Vitale. Engaged in strenuous lifting and rock-work in the crew’s previous hitch, Vitale suffered a severely strained back. Hardworking and tenacious to a fault, Vitale insisted that he participate in the hitch but leader Heidi Brill, suspecting the worst, ordered him to seek medical attention. Doctor’s orders for Vitale were uncompromising: rest, relaxation and physical therapy. Homebound and recovering, Vitale’s mission for the remainder of the hitch shifted to morning pancake preparation and evening dinner-duty. Regardless of the severe pain of his injury, Vitale did his best to keep up the spirits of the crew and day by day made successful steps toward recovery.
For the rest of the crew, this hitch was a true test of physical toughness and technical-trailworking skill. The first two days were based in a particularly un-scenic stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail running along a bustling freeway; clearing brush and removing garbage were top priorities. Other trail crews may have been discouraged by such unsavory work, but the remaining members of PCT I treated the job with uncommon professionalism and successfully performed their duty.
Following this brief stint on the freeway, the lion’s share of work the crew performed turned out to be exhausting, strenuous and again, unexpected. The same storm that delayed the hitch blew down dozens of trees along the trail. Following this development, other projects were pushed to the back burner and the crew began full scale log removal.
All in all, over one-hundred trees were removed from the trail- no light task considering their precarious positions and the treacherous terrain on which they rested. Leader Heidi Brill, the only officially certified chainsaw operator of the crew, served as main sawyer. The remaining members worked under Brill assisting in tree removal.
Even mechanical difficulties could not stop the drive and determination of the crew. On the second day of log removal a faulty sparkplug preventing the chainsaw from firing left the crew with only one option- removing trees the old fashioned way with axes and pulaskis. For an entire ten-hour day, the crew battled gargantuan pines and oaks like lumberjacks of old, proving that this trail crew could overcome any setback or obstacle thrust upon it.
Fortunately, a new sparkplug was installed the next day and the chainsaw ran strongly for the remainder of the hitch. After this the crew set a brisk pace, eventually clearing a four and a half mile stretch of trail for another season of annual through-hikers.
Though multiple unexpected developments necessitated old plans be scrapped and new ones drawn up, this hitch highlighted the qualities that separate exceptional trail crews from the common. Enthusiasm for rigorous work, unrelenting drive and positive attitudes were constantly on display among the members and leader of PCT I. With any luck, subsequent hitches may go by with fewer hang ups and difficulties, but if any do occur there should be no doubts that this crew will tackle them head on.
Until next time,
Danny & Corey
Signs Installed and Created: 17
Trail Brushed: 10892 feet
Trash picked up: 55 pounds
Blowdowns removed: 137
Check dams Installed: 6
Desert tortoise trainings attended: 1
Total trail maintained: 34811 feet
11-19 March 2011
Tylerhorse Canyon near Rosamond CA
This hitch was the crew’s first solo hitch working as a team of six. For parts of the hitch the crew was joined by PCTA associate regional representative Brendan Taylor, PCTA Section G chief Jeff Spindler, and volunteer/Pionjar master Pete Fish. The crew’s gear was packed in by mules and horses lead by experienced volunteer packers Dick Blizzard and Dennis Harfman. Being involved with this process was a unique learning experience for the crew. After hiking in behind the packing caravan the crew set up camp in Tylerhorse Canyon.
The area the crew worked in has been a site of controversy regarding land use. OHV enthusiasts favor the topography and soil type of the region. In addition to being illegal, OHV activity inflicts damage to the ecosystem of the Canyon as well as the structure of the trail. OHV operation through natural drainages along the trail leads to soil erosion. Much of the work the crew completed during this hitch was done to mitigate negative effects caused by illegal OHV use such as this. The crew built 248 square feet of stone retention structures on various drainage sites along the trail to address the issue.
Treadwork along the trail was the crew’s other focus throughout this hitch. The crew rebenched the tread to widen the trail corridor and make it safer for travel. The work was completed using hand tools as well as the Pionjar, which Pete Fish introduced to the crew. The Pionjar made obtrusive rock removal easier with the all-mighty power of gasoline.
The crew got out of the Canyon just in time before word of an incoming storm became an issue. The weather we worked in was pleasant but everyone now has a better understanding of why there are so many wind turbines in the area.
until next time,
Pack Animals Utilized: 7
Total Trail Maintained: 12,911 ft
Trail Rehabilitation/Reconstruction: 7,874 ft
Sites Rehabilitated: 2
Trailhead Kiosks: 1 sign
Stone Retention: 248 square ft
Blowdown Removed: 3
Number of agency contacted: 1
Number of guest interactions: 7
27 February - 6 March 2011
Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Scissors Crossing near Julian CA
Tule Springs & Coyote Canyon near Anza CA
The snowy southern California weather urged the crew further south than originally intended for this first hitch shared with our sister PCT crew. The winter storms had already delayed the hitch by two days, and as all the snow melted, the unimproved roads proved too saturated for the caravan to safely drive over. Functioning as a large crew of 12, the SCA crews were also joined by two stellar PCTA volunteers, Levi and Roger.
The crews set up camp at Scissors Crossing for the first couple of days, just east of the town of Julian, CA. Yes, that town’s world famous pie was tested. Jacintha Roemer, an Eastern Medicine Masters student, visited from San Diego and shared her knowledge of nutrition and bodywork with the crews.
PCTA section chief George Boone, steadfast PCTA volunteer Pete Fish, and PCTA regional representative Sam Commarto joined the crews on Monday and trained them in brush saw use and maintenance. Through years of development, PCTA staff and volunteers have taken beefed up weedwhacker bodies and attached a circular saw blade at the headstock for ultimate corridor brushing purposes.
After a day and a half of brush work at Scissors Crossing, the road near Anza had dried out enough to allow the crews to head back to their originally intended project location of Tule Springs. At Tule Springs the crews brushed trail corridor, restored tread, and reworked drainages. One crew spent a day back at the workskills training site of Coyote Canyon to put the finishing touches on a trail realignment and install a rock drainage structure.
until next time,
3 miles trail brushed
8982 feet trail restored (debermed, derocked, rebenched)
19 drain dips installed
2 rock waterbars installed
2 drainages reconstructed
120 feet of tread realigned
Appx. 39 miles per person walked
Corps Member Training, near Oracle Arizona
Gathering with a full force of 8 SCA crews and running the ranks of Native Plant Corps, Trails, and TRACS, members learned the ins and outs of the SCA. Freshly trained in Wilderness First Aid, Leave No Trace ethics, basecamp setup, and SCA policy, the two Trail Crews then departed to begin work on the PCT in Southern California.
Workskills Training, PCT in Coyote Canyon, near Anza California
Joined by longtime SCA workskills guru Steve Hester, the two PCT Trail Crews set up camp in Coyote Canyon to learn the philosophies and techniques of trail structure and maintenance. Aside from an introduction to tools and projects, the crews were introduced to the variable weather of mountainous Southern California: sun, heat, hail, rain, snow, freezing temperatures and natural hot springs.
until next time,
2628’ trail restored
8 drain dips installed
66’ trail realigned
20 square feet rock retaining wall installed
25 square feet riprap installed
2 rock waterbars installed
3 rock check dams installed
1 rock landing created
4 large rock gargoyles installed
My name is Corey Daniel Hawkins. I have spent the majority of my life living in a small city in Maine called Hallowell and so I am definitely excited to travel to California. I just recently graduated from high school last spring and am currently nineteen years of age. I enjoy hiking, soccer, skiing, and most importantly just having a good time with amazing people in the outdoors. In the fall I spent three months volunteering with the Maine Conservation Corps and I have a feeling I caught the “Trail bug” just like they told me I would. It has led me to leave my home and friends and go explore the farthest state from where I was born, and yet the only thing I can think about is how excited I am to start this amazing journey. I am looking forward to all of the great experiences that will happen in these next three months and with that said I will talk to you all later.
8-14 Feb: Member training in Tucson, AZ
18-22 Feb: Workskills training in southern CA with our sister PCT crew
25 Feb-6 Mar: Hitch one at Tule Springs, Anza Borrego Desert State Park, shared with our sister PCT crew
11-20 Feb: Hitch two at Tylerhorse Canyon, near the Antelope Valley, with Ridgecrest BLM
25 Mar-3 Apr: Hitch three at Tehachapi Pass/Oak Creek Canyon, with Ridgecrest BLM
8 -17 Apr: Hitch four at Owens Peak Wilderness, with Bakersfield BLM
21- 30 Apr: Hitch five at Owens Peak Wilderness, with Bakersfield BLM
30 Apr-5 May: Season wrap up
My name is Sarah Collins, I am 22 years old and from Madison, Wisconsin. I have been answering to my wanderlust during my current break from college. While in school I studied Environmental Science at the U of M in Minneapolis. I became inspired to get involved with SCA after participating in conservation projects abroad. I look forward to making an impact closer to home. In addition to traveling, experiencing the outdoors and taking part in conservation work are my passions. A few of my favorite outdoor activities are hiking and bicycling. I also enjoy exploring and observing the natural world around me. I am eager to live in a new environment and begin our work on the PCT!
My name is Alex Drew, but everyone I know who enjoys trails or can be found occasionally hugging a tree calls me Drewsie. I am currently taking time off between high school and college, and will be attending Colorado College in the fall. My first taste of the SCA was a 12 week conservation crew along the Florida National Scenic Trail this fall. I loved it so much that I decided to join the PCT crew. I am looking forward to this opportunity to work in a new ecosystem and befriend more like minded people. When I’m not in the backcountry, I can be found wandering the city, baking vegan cookies, or playing with my dog.
The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2650 mile National Scenic Trail that runs through California, Oregon and Washington, tying together the borders of Mexico and Canada.
Together, the SCA, Pacific Crest Trail Association, Bureau of Land Management, and US Forest Service, have formed a strong and lasting partnership that strives to best maintain this gem of a trail.
Throughout the winter season, the SCA crew will work to maintain a section of trail in California's Transverse and southern Sierra ranges, with a dash of trailwork further south in the Anza Borrega Desert State Park. The trail should be in top shape in time for the influx of yearly through-hikers.
My name is Danny Ross, I am a recent graduate of the University of
Oregon School of Journalism. I grew up in Oregon's Willamette Valley and
have a deep passion for the outdoors.
My main hobbies include running, I have finished two marathons, back
packing and mountaineering. I am also an avid fan of traditional
bluegrass; I play banjo, guitar and harmonica. I look forward to the
opportunity to live and work in Southern California for three months as
I've heard the weather down there is a bit better than in Oregon.
My name is Andrew Vitale. I'm 23 years old and a graduate of the
University at Albany's class of 2010. I received a B.S. in
Environmental Science with a concentration in Geology.
The outdoors have always been of great interest to me. Hiking,
mountain biking, and swimming have been my go-to outlets over the
years. More recently I've discovered the joys of conservation work.
Upon graduation I accepted a 6 month SCA internship with the Grand
Canyon National Park Vegetation Program. The experience was rewarding
beyond my wildest dreams, and I'm fully expecting the PCT to deliver
the same type of experience!
Heidi has chosen to utilize her degree in Landscape Architecture to construct and maintain foot trails in the great wildlands of the US. Heidi believes that trails, as systems that connect people to their natural environments, are an integral part of human understanding and existence. She brings experience from landscape construction and design, ancient forest ecology, environmental restoration, trail construction and maintenance, field crew management, walking very long distances, and participating in historical reenactments on horseback.
After walking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2005, Heidi looks forward to reuniting with the trail this winter in Southern California as a caretaker of its legacy.
|The Season's Tentative Schedule|
|Alex "Drewsie" Drew|
|Heidi Brill-Project Leader|
|A Final Farewell|
|Hitch Number Five FINAL|
|Hitch Number Four|
|Hitch Number Three|
|Hitch Number Two|
|Hitch Number One|
|Corps Member Training & Workskills|