North Fork John Day Ranger District Brendan Quirk, Project Leader SCA Conservation Corps P.O. Box 158 Ukiah, OR 97880 C: 208.631.7447 email@example.com May 23 - August 17, 2011
Download our Final Report here!
Attached is the final report submitted to the National Forest Service. It sums up the Umatilla 1 2011 Trail Crew experience and the work we completed.
Our Fifth and final hitch was split between two project sites. At the first site, Granite Creek, we built a turnpike across a very muddy 30' section of trail near the confluence of Granite Creek and The North Fork of the John Day River. At our second project site, Crane Creek, we brushed out the remainder of the Crane Creek trail, including the Northern branch that completes a loop between The North Fork of the John Day Campground and Crane Creek trailhead.
We began our hitch with a 3 day visit from our talented and knowledgeable Program Coordinator, Trevor Knight. Each crew in the Western Corps Trails program gets "roved" by a staff member from the Boise SCA office at some point during the season and our turn had finally arrived. He was very helpful in planning and constructing the turnpike on Granite Creek and easily fell into our post-work meal-prep and hang-out time routine. He also served up some wicked hacky-sack foot work. The turnpike project involved felling a 75' Larch, de-barking, setting the retainers, gathering and placing medium-sized rocks (this was pretty intense as our closest quarry was up nearby hill about a 5 minute walk) and filling on top of that rock base with mineral soil. We are very proud of the product of all that hard work, our first and only timber project for the season.
The second part of the hitch was devoted to brushing out the remainder of the Crane Creek trail and log-out and brushing on the North Crane Creek trail. After 4 long days of logging out trees and cutting back branches out of the trail corridor, the trail loop became fully accessible for equestrian traffic. On our final day, TJ Broom, our Forest Service contact, came out to give us all some tips on how to keep working for the Forest Service and to check out the progress on the Crane Creek Trail.
This concludes our season in the Umatilla National Forest. It was a lot of fun and we got some great work done. The Degenerates are on to various destinations and adventures. Carolyn is returning home and then will be joining the Southwest Conservation Corps in Colorado. Brian is going back to finish up his Computer Science BA in Wisconsin. Brittany is returning to school in Michigan but is considering doing more trail work in the near future. Alana is joining the Pacific Crest Trail Crew until December. Patrick will be working for the Forest Service in another SCA position out of Happy Camp, CA until November. Hope you catch them out there on the trails!
By the numbers, the hitch work totals:
Turnpike: 30 feet
Trail brushing/maintenance: 4.5 miles
Trees logged out: 30
Our second hitch took place at the other end of the Crane Creek trail. Our first day, we were packed in by TJ and Rick to our basecamp (Thanks guys!) located at the intersection of the North Fork of the John Day River and Crane Creek. I think the crew would all agree that this was our most beautiful basecamp to date. The crew promptly set up their tents in a field by the river so they could be lulled to sleep and gently pulled back into consciousness by the sounds of rushing water. The views across the North Fork were incredible and star gazing could not have been much better.
Our goal for the hitch was to open the Crane Creek trail to equestrian traffic. By accomplishing that goal, the North Fork of the John Day Wilderness Area would have a complete trail loop from the North Fork of the John Day campground to the Crane Creek campground. Hitch 3 was devoted to rehabilitating fords necessary for pack animals. Hitch four would be mostly devoted to brushing and log-out through the most dense forest sections we have worked on all summer. However, we started the hitch with 2 large tread projects. TJ stayed overnight with us the first night and was a great help in planning out and cutting a 280' trail-reallignment made necessary by the floods last Fall. A 500' section of steep, dusty trail also needed a new bench cut. We also discovered a severely gullied out and wet section of trail that needed a turnpike. Conveniently enough, there was a large pile of small river rocks only 30' away so we made quick work of bumping the trail up above water level.
After those projects were complete, we started brushing. The two main tasks were removing downed trees with Betsy, our bucking crosscut saw, and cutting down "pack knockers", or trees that are close enough to the trail that they hit and possibly damage packs attached to pack animals. TJ left us with 3 "Japanese Saws" that became indispensible. Some members of the crew are thinking of buying their own.
By the numbers, our work from Hitch 4 adds up to:
New Trail Construction: 280'
Trail Maintained: 400'
Trail Rehabilitated: 1210'
Rock Turnpike: 50'
Drain Dips: 1
Cross Cuts/log-outs: 18 logs
Heavy Brushing: 2.5 miles
Hitch three was different from the prior hitches for a couple reasons. It was our first full hitch without Jarrod Ball, the crew's original Project Leader and trail work guru, we were in a front-country camp and we were working with a new Forest Service contact, TJ Broom. This hitch also marks the half-way point of our trail season.
TJ came out on our first day to do a trail walk with Brendan and Alana, the Hitch Leader. By the end of the day, we had assessed the full 6 miles of trail, discovering that it was impassable to packing stock due to small landslides and ineffective fords. Last Fall's record flooding levels took a heavy toll on the Crane Creek Trail. We were tasked with fixing the fords and making the gullied out and wet trail passable again.
Fixing the fords meant getting our feet wet, really wet. We would walk around in the creek searching out large rocks (100+ lbs) for the ford's wall and then medium and small rocks for the crossing fill. The weather was generally warm and our spirits are always high when we can work together, so cold wet feet for days on end didn't phase us too much.
Over the next 8 days we built 4 ford crossings totalling 75 feet, rehabilitated 130 feet of trail including re-alligning the ford approaches. We also built a rock water bar to move water off the trail.
We had a lot of fun and got a lot of great work done. The Degenerates strike again.
I'm pleased to say that Hitch 2 of our season in the Umatilla NF went really well. We started the morning of Monday July 21st from the North Fork John Day campground north of Granite, OR. Our goal was to log out the entire 7 mile section of trail from the NFJD campground to the Wagner Gulch campsite that we would be occupying for the backcountry protion of the hitch. In the next 2 days we cleared 13 large blowdowns, including a 30" diameter Ponderosa. The length of the tree was accross the trail and the roots had pulled out an 8' section of the tread. This was a complicated project because the bind of the tree was hard to determine. However, with adequate planning and danger assessment, coupled with some effective cross cutting, the crew was able to remove the hazard. Jarrod Ball, our former Project Leader who has since moved onto bigger and better things as Trails Director at SCA Boise, held a lesson on how to fell trees with a crosscut. Remember: "Look up, Size Up, Clean Up, Cut Up!" The crew practiced on a couple pines up off the trail with excellent results. We also brushed the trail and removed branches that were significantly effecting the trail corridor.
On the morning of the third day, we were packed into our backcountry camp by Rick, our Forest Service packer, and his pack of sturdy mules and horses. Our new goal was to clear and rehabilitate a 3 mile section of trail from Wagner Gulch to Bear Gulch Cabin. Over the next 7 days, we encountered 12 more large trees in need of removal by crosscut. This number does not include a large number of small blowdowns that were removed by hand. Two of those trees needing removal were large trail-side Ponderosas that had pulled out sections of trail when they fell. Other projects included the construction of a rock water bar to divert water off the trail, installation of a series of stone steps, installation of a rock check step, general trail tread rehabilitation, brushing, and corridor clearing.
Some readers may know about the so-called "Honeymoon Period" that some trail crews go through. This saying refers to the initial few weeks of trail season when the members are just getting to know eachother and fast friendships are made. With many crews, this era of magnanimity, patience and forgiveness, the "Honeymoon", does not last long as some people eventually find small annoyances and bothersome quirks in their crewmates' personalities or working styles. However, some crews escape this downfall entirely. I'm proud to say that I think the members of SCA Western Corps Trail Team Umatilla 1 in this 2011 trail season have manifested a bond unbreakable by the "Honeymoon Period" Curse.
Their trail work is fierce, their cooking ridiculously spicy, their senses of humor are completely without boundaries or restraint and their new age group hugs are endless, awe inspiring feats of personal space invasion. They throw their knucks out into cupcakes, snowmen, jellyfish, snails and the showstopping rocketship. They are coming to a forest near you. They are The Degenerates.
Bread: flour, water, yeast and sugar. Mix, knead, bake - simple, bland, boring. So add some spice: garlic, onion, oregano, or sweet: honey, cranberries, nuts. Add some love - cradle it, keep it warm, have six anxious "parents" keep it from burning.
Crew: desert, mountains, cities, midwest. Spice: dance, guitar, youth, experience, fresh eyes. Sweet: shared coffee, 12 dish hands, laughter. Add compassion - open minds, shared experiences, common goals. Huddled under a tarp out of the rain or setting down tools and basking in the first sun in days. Each day a new, mouthwatering, shared experience.
Take the best ingredients, mix with love and time. The results becoming so much more than the sum of the parts.
8,500' trail maintained
logout 12 trees
stone retaining wall, 8' x 3'
Brendan grew up in the heavily industrialized and developed San Francisco Bay Area which may be the reason he is drawn so powerfully to trail work, outdoor living and the study of nature. After graduating from San Francisco State University with a BA in Political Science in 2008, he worked for the labor union UNITE HERE as an administrative and research assistant in Oakland, CA.
Intrigued by the labor union world yet immeasurably annoyed by the constant flickering of fluorescent lights, he tendered his resignation as soon as he was accepted to SCA Massachusetts' 2010 Trail Program. It was there that he fell in love with the outdoors and with trail work. After the 5 month trail program ended, Brendan was selected for the Massachusetts' Audubon Society's fall trail crew where he continued with trail maintenance into early winter.
After returning from a 3 month backpacking trip in New Zealand, Brendan contacted the SCA recruiting office to inquire about open positions. He was overjoyed to find that a Project Leader position had just opened up in the Umatilla National Forest. Two weeks later, he finds himself standing in the beautiful Blue Mountains of Eastern Oregon, watching his crew begin a long day of challenging rock work next to a swollen, swiftly running river, and thinking, "Conservation Begins Here". Brendan is very excited to see where this new adventure with SCA will take him.
I am a mild, even-tempered ginger from the wilds of Philadelphia enjoying my first, but not last, visit to eastern Oregon. Having previously worked in the Great Smoky Mountains and on the southern fifth of the PCT, I am completely stoked to begin my summer in Umatilla. I enjoy books of all kinds, growing extravagant facial hair and the stars. My passion for the outdoors is exceeded only by my appetite for excellent food and good company. Thankfully, I am confident in an adequate supply of both in the upcoming months.
I'm Brittany Weinstein and have currently just finished up my first
year at Michigan State University. I'm studying Social Relations and
Policy while minoring in Spanish. I hope to someday work with
environmental policies and the city of Detroit implementing Urban
Agricultural farms around the greater Detroit area (that's today's
life goal, changes all the time!)
I love hiking and being outdoors. For the past two summers I've
backcountry hiked in Isle Royale up here in Michigan. The experience
influenced me to become passionate about the outdoors, environmental
conservation and, of course, love the Michigan wilderness.
Aside from hiking, I play rugby for Michigan State's women's team.
We're a Division I club sport and compete with other Big 10
universities around Michigan. The upcoming fall season will be my 6th
year playing (I also played in high school) and can't imagine life
I'm super excited and grateful to be a part of the Umatilla National
Forest crew and can't wait to make some great friends and enjoy the
Western part of the country!
May 16th and 17th I spent out with TJ and Rick from the Umatilla National Forest looking at out potential worksites. After fighting through 8" of snow at the first summit, we found the road to the North Fork John Day campground inaccessible due to snow.
So instead we inspected the Granite Creek Trail and used the crosscut saw to remove numerous downed trees. The trail terminates on the North Fork of the John Day River, and where we will ultimately have a backcountry camp. We headed anticipating lots "heavy maintenance" to be done: brushing, some log out, general tread work.....
Along the trail, we found several sections that are currently underwater due to heavy flooding. So, project #1 identified.
Further on down the trail, a timber/lumber structure seems ready to slip off the trail and has definite signs of rot. Absolutely not sufficient to support a mule string with our gear later in the season, Project #2, check.
After lunch the second day, we decided to stroll upstream from the camp location to check out what was above. While stepping through some blowdown, Rick said "Well, it looks like we found a project for you." Thinking he was referring to the blowdown, I wasn't too worried -- then I looked ahead.
The trail has been obliterated by a rock/mudslide, making it impassable to stock. We checked out the area and decided the slide will require some pre-crew blasting work to make the site safe, along with some potential for review by other forest folks to evaluate the project.
If everything goes as planned, this reconstruction will be tackled later on in the summer. Quite a change from the work we thought we would find and have the crew doing. All in all, very exciting and great potential for some advanced trail skills!!!!
Having practically grown up on the beach, a summer without the ocean will be an invited challenge for Alana. A practicing vegan for three years, Alana’s interests lie in environmental awareness and sustainability and she feels there is no better way to learn about the outdoors than getting out there and rolling around in it! Hiking and canoeing are two of her favorite outdoor activities, but she is always up for adventuring in any setting. Alana is fortunate enough to have spent four years at UMass Amherst where there is a constant supply of opportunities to get outside and people to join her!
Though she will miss her family TERRIBLY (Mom, are you reading this?) Alana is excited to spend a summer in the backcountry and hopes to go to Grad school abroad, join the Peace Corps, and save the world when she returns (not necessarily in that order)! With degrees in psychology and political science, Alana hopes to work in environmental politics in a South or Central American country in the future (though she will admit the Spanish is going to need a little practice).
I am an animal person. I refuse to discriminate between cats and dogs, men and women, salty and sweet, and other sorts of juxtapositions. I was raised in Upstate New York and attended the State University at Buffalo. After two semesters, I took time off to reorganize my thoughts while living and working in some of the country's most beautiful places. I am a live music enthusiast! I love to groove, hoop, and hack. I also love to eat raw garlic (good for you!) and lots of ice cream (not so good). I am very excited to be given the opportunity to explore the Umatilla National Forest!
Born to native Wisconsinites, Brian Kendzior has lived & played in the Wisconsin wilderness for the majority of his life. Needing to balance his passion for computers, Brian took up camping and hiking at a young age and never looked back. With friends, he has helped plan and lead numerous successful trips into the backcountry with minimal casualties (ask him about Dudley the canoe). Now a Senior Computer Science Student at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, Brian decided to join the SCA before he graduated to explore the possibility of not having to sit in a cubicle for the rest of his working career. Brian spends the majority of his free time playing guitar, plotting his next epic wilderness adventure, or staring at a computer screen cranking out countless lines of code.
A native of the desert of southern Idaho, Jarrod Ball was recently transported from the land of constant sun to the slightly greener (albeit much wetter) climate of western Washington. He transitioned from watching the outside world from his office window for fourteen years, to wearing a backpack for over 200 days a year.
Since unchaining from the desk, Jarrod has tussled with tundra in Alaska, wrestled with bitterbrush in Oregon, sweat in the New Jersey woods and started avalanches in Washington. This is his fourth season with the Student Conservation Association, with whom he has led crews with high school students and professional trail builders.
Between backwoods stints, Jarrod returns to his home in northwestern Washington to do laundry, pet the dog and have dinner with his two teenage children and wife.
|Umatilla 1 2011 Final Report|
|Umatilla 1 2011 Final Project Video|
|SPOT GPS Check in locations|
|Brendan Quirk - Project Leader|
|Patrick Hall - Member|
|Brittany Weinstein - Member|
|Alana Stickney - Member|
|Carolyn D'Aprix - Member|
|Brian Kendzior - Member|
|Jarrod Ball - Project Leader|
|Hitch 5: Building the Oregon Turnpike and brushing our way to bigger and better things.|
|Hitch 4: Japanese Hand Saws, The Art Of Brushing and Sending 6 Way Hugs Through Trees To You|
|Hitch 3: Rocks, Wet Feet and the Crane Creek Trail|
|Hitch 2: The Crew That Cooks Food Together Stays Glued Together, AKA The Honeymoon Period Will Never End!|
|Initial visit - water, water, water|