On our first hitch we spent the first 6 days brushing out overgrown plants and branches from the trail, covering about a mile in total, and fixing the trail tread (walking surface) which was in some areas severely outsloped from repeated horse use over the years. The total amount of tread we rebuilt (essentially) was about half a mile - quite of lot - and walking it now is a much more pleasant experience! Part of the maintenance of the tread also involved micro-blasting large rocks that were too big to break open with the double jack sledgehammers. Simon and Scott from the Forest Service came out and demonstrated the process, even letting us pull the detonation trigger most of the time (don't worry, it's not as explosive as it sounds - and luckily no certifications were needed).
Then we spent the second half of the hitch building a 70 foot rock turnpike in an area of the trail sunken under about a foot of water. The river had apparently shifted course, flooding this stretch of trail, and a reroute was impossible with the steep cliffs on the other side. No complaints from us - it was a dirty, wet, and muddy adventure to set the boundary rocks (not to mention fun!). We're still working on finishing it up, but already much of the water has been diverted and it's much more walkable than it previously was.
All in all, a wonderful start to the summer!
The SCA Native Plants Team at Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) has completed its first week of project work and is in the homestretch of its second week of project work.
Thus far the work has primarily focused on removal of invasive tree species to CVNP such as Autumn Olive, Bush Honeysuckle, Multiflora Rose, Buckthorn and many others.
GPS has been used to monitor our tracks so an area covered can be calculated on posted on a map. Though the weather has been changing the team has been able to work just about every day in the field.
Stay tuned for our next update and please feel free to contact us with any questions!
The SCA Native Plants Team at CVNP completed a successful Member Training that lasted several weeks. From on site training at CVNP to SCA Member Training in McCall Idaho, the team accomplished a great deal.
Some highlights: members are now Wilderness First Aid Certified, CPR Certified, have a certificate for completion of a chainsaw course, and are fast becoming familiar with the non-native and invasive plant species that they will be dealing with during the project
April 20th – April 26th
For our first 7 day work week, Molly and I decided to split the leadership roles and co-lead. Our initial start to the week was a bit rocky due to unforeseen weather. While watering, an intense cold front enveloped our crew sending us hail, sleet, and prevailing winds. In the end it was decided to pack up the equipment and head to safety. A couple days into the week with continuous snow, the crew celebrated Earth Day with the local 10th grade biology class from Grand Canyon High School by establishing a new planting site and planting over a 100 native plants. Despite digging in the wet mud, the students persevered with smiling faces and cheerful attitudes.
Later in the week, volunteers through the Grand Canyon Trust enthusiastically salvaged 100 globe mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) and removed Russian Thistle (Salsola tragus) and Bur Buttercup (Ranunculus testiculatus). The following day, the volunteers helped us replant the globe mallow that we salvaged the day before.
Our first week proved to be a success: we braved the harsh elements, completed a large portion of a large planting site, and removed nasty invasives while saving globe mallow all with the help of hard working volunteers.
Yowsers. Who knew the first night at camp we would get SO acquainted? After a half day of pack in and the other half working the trail, the crew returned to base camp and immediately stripped to their skivvies and had a tick check. (Separate genders of course...) It actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise because when you know everyone's mole placement and tick-friendly areas, it's a great foundation to build a well oiled machine of a tight crew.
So that's how it all started, day one, hitch one.
Most of our work was maintenance on the River Trail, general brushing, re-tread, and log out. About day three, we started and finished a 150 ft re-route of the trail that had been washed out by the high water. The crew used the cross-cut saw to remove huge down trees and busted new trail to bring it around to the existing usable trail. So we brushed and logged some more, and doing that really works up the old appetite. So let's get to the food.
The crew ate like Kings and Queens for about 8 out of the 10 days because we sort of ran out of fuel and breakfast foods, but rice and cous cous for breakfast isn't all bad. Jake and Katrina helped make some of our dinners 'Gourmet' with the wild Morel mushrooms they harvested. Yum. Wild Mushroom Corn Chowder, Mac & Cheese Mexican Refried Bean Casserole, Stir-fry, Red Bean Quinoa Peanut Butter Medley, Penne Canned Chicken Pesto...just to name a few. My stomach is growling just thinking of those meals.
The weather from the Northwest seemed to follow us for the beginning of the Hitch with two rainy days, just enough to soak the boots and keep the river raging. But after that, the rest of our days were filled with that Oregonian Super Sunshine, not a cloud to be seen. This made the after work wash/dunk in the frigid river a little more tolerable. To save space, Brian (Chip) and Dan shared a tent as well as Katrina and Mary. They are now as snug as a bug in a rug. Jake and Daniel decided to take their own tents and were happy to have the space as Night Mice late in the hitch started to nibble (chew, tear up) on weird things like boots, gloves, shoulder straps and mouthpieces. BUMMER! Turns out the SCA and the Forest Service aren't the only ones who like our sweaty (salty) hard work.
Katrina also brought out her incredible photo taking machine when the weather was nice and she snapped some great shots. The crew camera also made an appearance but both ran out of battery with too many days left in the hitch. We have learned our lesson to come in with full charge! Not just in batteries, but in everything!
Overall, we hiked about 40 miles, brushed/cleared 5.5 miles, logged out a bunch of obstacle trees, and had a grand ole time doing it in just 10 days.
To end, we gathered in a circle and downed the last of the Honey, Syrup, and "Real Strawberry Topping" from the No-Bake JELLO cheesecake. Sugar Circle.
So now we've got four days off and head in on Monday the 21st, for a nine day hitch in the same area. Gotta love it! See you back here in a fortnight!