Snow, Sunshine, and Rusted Nails at the Lake of Olives!

Service to the land! Through snow, rain, rusted nails and waterlogged styrofoam, the Umakillahz have pushed straight on through it all!

The second hitch for the Umakillahz began in an all-too-familiar way—with rain, sleet, graupel, snow, and all other forms of liquid precipitation in between. Undaunted by the now commonplace Umatilla weather, we began work around Olive Lake on a series of projects.

Before we began the hitch, we welcomed our new member, Brock, to the crew with open arms and taught him the ways of the Umakillahz. His rapid education involved a crash course in our inside jokes, which required a full team effort to explain. Brock instantly became a great member of our crew and helped us immensely during our hitch.

Over the course of the hitch, we worked as a brushing crew, a tread and drainage crew, a campground rehabilitation crew, an ADA (a trail made to fit the specifications of the American Disabilities Act) trail crew, and a dock demolishing crew. With all those jobs, I suppose we should just keep calling ourselves an SCA crew.

Our major accomplishments for the hitch include brushing and improving the tread on the two mile trail surrounding Olive Lake, disassembling an old wood and styrofoam dock, resurfacing and compacting an ADA trail, rehabilitating a campsite to move the immensely heavy table and tent region out of the trail, replacing several signs around the Olive Lake Campground (definitely not as simple as it sounds), and doing some more intense brushing along the first few miles of the John Day North Fork Trail.

Through all of those projects, we had quite a few memorable experiences. We had the pleasure of reuniting with the infamous Paul Bunyan of the USFS once again. We also worked alongside an all-star group of well-versed forest service staff on the dock project. They had a unique approach to say the least, and we enjoyed seeing their camaraderie. On the return home from work one day, we even picked up a recently deceased squirrel which Nels and Shawn cleaned and prepared. Squirrel meat was a first for all of us! While that might sound strange to others, we do our best to embrace all aspects of the outdoors way of life here in the Umatilla National Forest. We also wrapped up our last day at Olive Lake with a brief dip in the snowmelt-fed waters. Shivering and refreshed, we enjoyed the thrill of having taken the plunge.

Through the intense weather and hard work, we grew closer as a team and we look forward to the rest of our hitches. We departed at the end of the hitch ready to meet the Umathrillaz (the other Umatilla SCA crew) in Pendleton for some awesome adventures as…MEGATILLA!

Jake