At 8,900 ft, White Rock Lake is an entertaining route (high clearance vehicles only) to a mosquito haven campsite. With that said, you can walk out onto the dam of the reservoir and look out upon Mt. Lola with the sun rising or setting behind it in awe. The area was abundant with wildlife. During the daylight we saw a mama merganser with two babies swimming and soaking up the sun, as well as marmots on the rocks surrounding the lake hiding behind rocks as we started our hike to the worksite. At night we heard owls as we lay in our tents; hooting to one another. It was unique listening to them communicate back and forth to each other right over head as we tried to rest for the day and work to come.
Our mission was to hike four miles daily in order to reach a bridge that was in need of work on its approaches. The hike started out at White Rock Lake on the Mt. Lola Trail which met up after a small descent to the Pacific Crest Trail. Then it was a climb to the pass where we would break for water and GORP to take in the view and catch our breath. The last leg to the worksite was a descent of switchbacks down to a red fir forest to the bridge. When hiking to the bridge the approach was almost a foot and half step up to the walkway. It was made of iron beams and cement which was flown and packed to the worksite in 1994 and did not have a crew to work on it since. While we were working on the bridge a group of horses attempted to cross. One of the horses wouldn’t step up onto the bridge because of the steepness of the step and jumped off the bridge twice. This made it even more apparent that our work was needed.
Our crew; Ryan “the Stache” our fearless leader , Matt our Switzerland, Ashley cookies, Dan “Dan”, Sadie the Girl, and PCTA technical advisor Jeff (Jefe Cortez) , spent the next six days building a rock crib structure out of granite rocks from the forest. In doing this we strained some muscles and lifted some big boulders with the help of our best friend the rock bar and our brute strength. In the end we create stone steps going up to the bridge that were horse tested and approved. We also had time to do some brushing and log outs. It was the first time for some of our crew members to become swamp people like “Old Gregg.” It was a nice break from the strenuous rock moving during this hitch. It is always rewarding seeing the end project after a hard week of work.
We went through some great challenges this hitch, from medical scares to locking ourselves out of the truck, but we came out of it stronger as a crew. Change is the only constant and we have to be ready for it. We are looking forward to our next hitch in Squaw Valley with the help of our new crew member Sadie (exceptional cook and organizational extraordinaire) we are planning better and are trying to become more efficient as a group. This hitch played on our strengths and weaknesses in many ways but taught us lessons that we will carry with us on our last two hitches.