Hitch 5, North Zone Trails
During hitch 5, North Zone Trails consisted of Stevi, Andrea, Kendra, and Jeff. We spent the 10 day hitch working on Sheep Creek trail, a feeder to the Continental Divide Trail. We hiked about 5 miles to where we set up our camp, and from there worked predominantly on improving the tread of the trail. Over the 10 days we widened the tread on approximately 7000 feet of trail. Much of the tread had been in a poor state, with widening clearly being necessary for making the trail safe, especially for pack animals. We also performed a significant amount of brushing and removed several blow-downs that had obstructed the trail since the last North Zone Trails hitch. Overall, the work was very taxing, but all the members of the trail crew were able to put in a consistent effort for the length of the hitch. When we weren’t looking down at the tread that we were widening, we found ourselves surrounded by beautiful views. In the distance we could see the treeless tops of continental divide mountains, while nearer to us were some lower but nonetheless impressive cliffs and wooded mountains. The trail meandered through a variety of different environments-- woods composed predominantly of Douglas firs, sage-brush meadows, and burned zones with blooming wildflowers. Supplementing our diet were delicious wild huckleberries and strawberries that we found along much of our section of trail. Finally, our packers, Arne and Robert, were both very friendly and helpful additions to our crew for days that they spent with us at the two ends of the hitch.
Hitch 5 Travel/Vegetation
A small crew of core members Kyle and Eric spent the first week of
this hitch finishing up the BLM Travel Management project. This
involved using GPS and maps to find primitive roads and install signs.
Kyle and Eric continued the vegetation project during the second week,hiking through previously burned areas to measure tree re-growth.Megan and Jenna also helped with the vegetation project.
We spent our time sampling seedling regen near Blackbird Mine. For 10 hours a day, we traversed through fallen trees and debris looking for plots using Garmin GPS units, topomaps, and compii. We also sampled huckleberries from time-to-time, which grew in thick mats on the forest floor, lush from the acidic soil and burn debris. Lodgepole pine were struggling for recruitment, bunching in waist high clusters. Even the devastating clear creek fire eventually mends. 10 years later, early succession is in full swing in the Salmon-Challis.
Hitch 5 Wildlife
SCA Wildlife was back in action, this time in the Lost River Mountain Range of Idaho. Being the range that is home to Mt. Borah, Idaho’s tallest Mt, it was sure to be a good time. Besides some minor setbacks in the beginning of the hitch, everything went as smooth as possible. Each day started with a mighty helping of quinoa flaked banana nut bread with raspberry preserve. Before our super powers kicked into action, we had already begun our days hitting the mountain canyons in search of Aspen plots. Some days were awesome, only hiking a mile and finding almost 15 plots, while others were horrible, hiking 6 miles and only finding 1 or 2 plots; the pure beauty of the scenery around make up for the lack of plots. We saw forests that looked like they belonged to a rainforest, mountain peaks that looked like something from the Alps, wildlife that looked like it belonged at a taxidermy office because everything we saw, besides raptors, was either road kill or attacked by bears or mountain lions. Speaking of bears we even came across a bear trap with bear bait, cameras, and rigged tension lines. As the nights rolled around, it was time to cook and get some rest. But cooking in the rain? That doesn’t sound fun. Luckily, we had access to a local BLM field office with full ammonites. We cooked ourselves some good meals, nachos, pasta, hot dogs with avocado, tomatoes and cheese. Afterwards we had blueberry cheesecake courtesy of one of the crew members. Nights sometime ended with a movie such as Mr. Deeds or G. I. Jane. All in all it was a good and productive hitch to say the least. We surveyed almost 50 Aspen plots and had chances to hike extremely remote mountain locations in Idaho. Did I mention the gooseberries, squaw, golden and rose hips and wild raspberries….Yessss!
Dan and Kelly returned to Red Rock Peak for Hitch #4, eager to survey the area's remaining U-routes. Walking a total of 25.3 miles of routes in four days, the abbreviated crew returned to Moyer for GIS data management on July 22nd. The two had ample opportunities to bond during the hitch. They enjoyed each other's company in the beautiful, remote wilds of the Idaho summer.
This week, our hitch split into tandem-teams of 3, sampling seedling regeneration plots near Clear Creek. We climbed through burned, forested areas with intense slopes; some approaching 100 percent. At times it felt more like mountaineering than back country hiking. Much of the vegetation in the area is showing evidence of regrowth after the clear creek fire, which seems amazing given the rugged landscape and soil quality in the area. Lodgepoles are establishing in abundance, some being choked-out in the understory by huckleberries and competeing douglas fir seedlings. In the flattened areas of the gulch, pine-beetle kill covers much of the forest floor in criss-crossing patterns, making hiking from plot-to-plot like running through a wilderness obstical course. We love this job.
The project was working for the Forest Service and assisting in implementing the newest Travel Plan for the Salmon-Challis National Forest. Our job began with an early departure from Moyer in an old Dodge extended cab 4x4 truck to meet our Forest Service Contact Ken in Salmon. Ken set us up with large maps of the travel plan, a packet of map enlargements with numbers indicating intersections and a long list of the hundreds of numbers with their corresponding road names, road numbers and road classifications. Our job was to post carsonite signs on all class 2 roads- unimproved dirt roads designated for 4x4 access. It’s amazing what they call accessible to 4x4 trucks! Our area of focus was forest surrounding the town of Leadore. A population of 90, but only maybe if you count the cows! The high school has 9 kids…total! We were fortunate enough to be put up in the old ranger’s house, an unfurnished 3 bedroom, stove AND refrigerator including STRUCTURE! By far the most posh floor/ accommodation we have slept on in 3 months.
Ken took us out on the first day to show us how to pound the carosnite, demonstrate the proper labeling methods, and explain the proper placement etc. He poked fun when we would get out and check shallow stream crossings or put the truck in 4-wheel drive. Apparently, we are more cautious than the average forest service employee, but he didn’t mind. The two of us would switch off driving and navigating. There are an ungodly number of roads traversing in and around the forest. Most of them unauthorized, so finding the designated route became a guess and check- hot and cold game with the GPS.
Our most exciting story of the excursion shadows the fact that we saw some of the most beautiful country, visited amazing campsites and enjoyed the thrill of stepping foot, for the first time, on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). Nina spotted, galloping in the distance, (dum da DA)… A MOOSE!! The gate, size shape and color distinguished the beast from anything we had ever seen before. Its legs were so long that it simply walked/stepped over a 4 foot barbwire cow fence and lifted its hind legs over together without a thought. How Cool! We wished we could have been closer, but the gal was moving through the sage and we heard coyotes howling from its presence. We were both really hoping to see the northwestern king of big game and we did! Wahoo!
It was a great opportunity to see a lot of the forest, visit a few new campgrounds and sleep in a house. A half hitch of something new and heavily reliant on navigation skills was enjoyable. We are getting pretty good at planning routes, reading the map and GPS simultaneously and can rock crawl the truck over some serious terrain.
Hitch 4: South Zone Trails
Eric Molnar (hitch leader), John Mattews, Andrea Harbin, Stephanie Deckman, Jeff Stenzel
For this week’s shortened hitch, we worked to improve a section of trail near Little West Fork Creek that feeds into the Frank Church Wilderness about 20 miles northwest of Challis. We arrived to find th trail in pretty bad shape; though technically only open to horses, hikers, and dirt bikes. The trail clearly had been getting a fair share of ATV usage which had greatly widened the tread of the trail and worsened some already present erosion problems. The terrain around the trail was heavily forested, which we used to our advantage, spending much of the time moving massive logs using log carriers to narrow the width of the trail and prevent ATV access. We also used logs to construct seven timber water bars along the trail to mitigate erosion in certain areas where water had clearly been running down the trail.
Overall the hitch was definitely a success, if a little uneventful, probably partly due to the shorter length. We made a lot of tasty food, with burgers on the first night, bacon for breakfast one day, and then using ALL of the leftover grease from those meals to make burrito fixins for dinner on the final night, which was quite yummy. Our camp bathroom was sort of a blessing and a curse at the same time, a metal toilet with just two walls forming a corner but facing a glorious view northeast into the Salmon River Mountains and the Continental Divide beyond. The lack hundreds of silk worms covering everything at camp like the last South Zone Trails hitch was also an added bonus.
Hitch 4 Wildlife in the Lost Range
We started out Monday not knowing much of where we were going to be. Once we met with Mike, our Agency contact with the Forest Service, we thought we had a better understanding but apparently it’s called the Lost Range for a reason. The roads and the map did not match the best. We were told to work Arco Pass and north. When we made our way out to the pass we discovered it’s a very dry place; not a good area for aspen. We roamed the area for three days in search of aspen. The beginning attempts did not go so well but by the last day we found a good area. It was back in the mountains around the Pass Creek. Our inventory came out to be 16 aspen stands, about 6 canyons explored, and hundreds of miles driven. Camping in the Lost Range was another task after trying to decide on a decent place we still ended up sleeping the night in a windstorm. The second night and third night were better but, many bugs to deal with. Thankfully Jason and I were all about being positive no matter what. I think it also helped that we had good hot meals to end the long days. When it came to wild life viewing; Jason and I sadly did not have much luck! In the Lost Range we saw birds and cows. Our drive out from Moyer was much more exciting. We got to see elk, deer, rabbits, and of course birds and livestock. This journey was fun and exciting from an exploring perspective but not a good area for aspen. We are happy with what we did find though because this area has not been surveyed. It’s exciting to know we’ve done the first research.
We launched the first vegetation hitch to some confusion and many hills. We received the survey points and a few functioning GPSs from our friendly forest service contacts, and with help from Kyle the Biology Major we learned how to properly do burn effects monitoring and seedling regeneration surveys with only a few mishaps. The plots were up by the Blackbird mine, many of which were on treacherous slopes and on rainy days it made for a wonderful slip and slide. Trees were counted, dead trees knocked down for the sheer pleasure of the crash, and everyone made it out alive. What I would consider a successful hitch.
LNT Trainer Course:
Master LNT Trainer: Jackie Lucero LNT Trainer Assistant: Megan Petermann: LNT Trainer Students: John Matthews, Daniel Perez, Jessica Macy, Kyle Taylor, Kelly Krieves.
Location: Bighorn Crags July 23-25, 2011
The goal of Leave No Trace (LNT) is to teach principles and guidelines not rules. LNT encourages responsibility of folks in the outdoors by reducing or preventing their impact on the environment they so greatly respect. The seven principles are: 1. Plan Ahead and Prepare 2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces 3. Dispose of Waste Properly 4. Leave What you Find 5. Minimize Campfire Impacts 6. Respect Wildlife 7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors. Each corps member was assigned one principle and had to educate the group on the meaning behind it in an outdoor setting.
On our first day we met up and had a discussion on Planning Ahead and Being Prepared. Group gear and food was laid out and divided up between us all. We were on our way to The Crags! One vehicle was in much delight of a very good CD mix of tastes across the board focusing on the early 90’s to get us pumped up for our backpacking trip. Upon Arrive to the Trail Head we gave ourselves a quick bite to eat and a snap of the camera and we were on our way; 7 miles to Wilson Lake. Many a beautiful site was seen as we hiked along the mountain ridges and rims, trekked through snow, and hiked across granite slabs. Several stunning alpine lakes, white bark pine, lodge pole pine, and remarkable spires of granite were gazed upon. Weather could not have been better with temperatures in the 70’s and cool breezes on our faces. Getting to Wilson Lake was easy enough but, some time was taken to select a place we would call home and classroom for the next few days. We trekked through waist deep snow (for some knee) to get to the other side where we would find a spot to camp. A spot was decided upon beside the lake and would do more than suffice. An early night was called for some to rest their weary bodies.
Our first morning in the Crags was spent making delectable almond pancakes with real maple syrup and butter. Nice hot cups of tea and coffee were served as well as good conversation with good folks. After our breakfast we had a lesson in Being Considerate of others presented by Nina in a discussion form based around people and technology vs. people and nature. Lunches making time came as well as clean up. We resourcefully used the snow to our advantage by storing our bear bins of freshies and cheese to keep them cool. Off we went on our day hike across a large granite slab down to the valley bottom where the snow and sites were again plentiful. Boot skiing and sledding was taken advantage of in full. Our Lunch spot brought on another lesson of Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces. Kyle had us hiking around the immediate area to find where we would camp, cook, set up a latrine and travel and why. The latrine leads right into Jess’s lesson of Dispose of Waste Properly wherein she gave us statistics on how long popular items took to decompose. Did you know that it takes roughly 2 years to for an orange peel to decompose? Jess also shared with us the proper way to dispose of our own human waste and led to our turn around back to camp. Along long the route back, we stopped for another quick sled run. Retuning to our camp, we took some down time while John geared up for his Respect Wildlife lesson. John discussed with us why respecting wildlife from a distance is as important to an animal’s health as is properly storing your food with bear hangs and or bear bins so that an animal cannot obtain it. We had a lovely little classroom session by our bear hang and what proper distances for them are. Some reflection time came for folks as did dinner of curry lentil soup with quinoa, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. With our bellies full Kelly began her lesson of Minimizing Campfire Impact. Kelly constructed a small mound fire on top of a fire blanket. A small fire was produced as were the fixing for smores; none of which were wasted. Through full bellies and minds at ease it was time to clean up and head for bed to get the much needed rest for the hike out. Our final morning came with winds, thunder, and light rain; enough to motivate us to get going on our way. Breakfast was a quick and easy of Granola, dried milk, and coffee and tea. The last of our freshies were used to make our last lunches as was good old fashion peanut butter and d jelly. Pack up cam and we were on our approach to the Trail Head and one final lesson along the way. Leave What You Find was the last lesson given by Dan at our final break before the end of the trail. Dan gave us some word teasers to prove the point that you don’t get the whole story if something is missing. Taking objects can take away from other peoples experience and disturb the land. All of our lessons were now complete; we had the last leg of our trail and the drive home to complete prior to a home cooked meal, shower, and bed. A successful LNT course for sure with great memories to share.
The hitch of the “wormies”
An epic battle of man against silk worms began after the first day of trail work. The tornado force winds tore our kitchen tarp repeatedly and brought the worms down from the trees on tinsel lines of silk to invade and cluster on everything in camp. They particularly liked the stove lid, the cooler and the underside of the table. By day six we evacuated the corralled kitchen area of the campsite and confined our food to bins in the river and the cab of the truck. As expected our crew devolved and its comical how relative the term ‘clean’ becomes after 7 days of camping, working and sweating.
The south zone crew of five successfully completed the project of Blowfly Trail on the west fork of Morgan Creek. The eroded portion of the trail has been mitigated. The crew continued to repair the tread along the entrenched and coarsened section of the trail by placing two large waterbars and drainage dips above the final check step and a crib wall.
After 2400 feet of completed tread and brushing the crew moved onto Little West Fork Creek Trail. The wide trail has to be reduced to restrict ATV use so we dragged real big logs up real close to the trail. Obviously technical. For the first time being in the olden days would have been beneficial because back then we would have at least have had ox to drag the logs, as opposed to clamps and biceps.
Andrea, Kendra, Stevie, Eric and John passed the time with numerous word games, their favorite being the ‘helmet game’ in which they wrote the name of a famous or known character on another’s helmet then they would ask questions about their name to determine their identity. They survived close lightening strikes and were fortunate not to become cocooned in silk. Overall, the hitch was a complete success, many songs were butchered and a lot of work was completed.
Hitch #3 U-routes Synopsis:
Brett and Kelly attacked the Yellowjacket Mine area during Hitch #3, surveying over 90 U-Routes, including three near the Middle Fork Lookout that were only accessible via an 18-mile trek. They were able to meet with the owners of both Yellowjacket and Blackeagle, incredibly generous Idaho mountain residents who took pity on the tired workers, repeatedly inviting them in for conversation and delicious burgers. The pair also struck gold near their campsite at Yellowjacket Creek and spent hours excitedly panning with their dinner plates. It was an excellent hitch over-all, resulting in much work accomplished and many mountains conquered.
North Zone Trails
On hitch #3, the North Zone Trails crew (Dan & Jeff) worked on Sheep Creek Trail, an access to the Continental Divide Trail. We spent the first few days brushing extensively and focusing on the reestablishment of a section of trail that had become a small stream. Later, we moved camp to a higher elevation, where we worked on widening a long portion of trail (~1/2 mile). The trail traversed a steep, open hillside, and its narrowness imposed a significant danger on pack animals. While we worked on this section, our Forest Service partner went ahead to clear the trail of downed trees to Bradley Gulch. In addition to widening that section, we constructed two retaining walls in order to eliminate sharp dips. Towards the end of the hitch, we did a bit more brushing and spot tread work where the need was greatest. In several locations, we re-established the trail route where downed trees had led to user “re-routes”. For such a small crew, we got quite a lot of work done during our 8 day hitch; though the weather was quite hot and the work strenuous, the results and the views we encountered along the way made the experience rewarding.
Wildlife Hitch3 started off right after 4th of July break, with a bang! By the way, it’s quite challenging to find any open car-garages to get auto repairs; for that reason, I was late as hitch-leader, so my crewmate, Jenna took over and Megan subbed. The gals got 2 out of 3 assigned forest-service roads surveyed before I could make it back to trade spots. Being GPS-novices, we temporarily “lost” some of aspen-points they took, so we needed to retrace their steps in order to take duplicates, which later became a confusing mess we’d have to sort in the office. But in the field, I learned Jenna has amazing eyesight for wildlife, and could spot an elk hidden amongst crowded conifers while driving (carefully) on our way to scout near a beautiful alpine lake. We ended up inventorying aspen on an adjacent forest-service road (total of 29 stands after hiking about 8 miles). Camping near the river meant we were eaten alive by mosquitoes; there also happen to be inadequate windbreaks when a thunderstorm came through, thus our tent poles were bent by high-winds, but at least we stayed dry! We also had some time to explore the campgrounds, where we watched fish, found a tree that smelled of pina-colada, played horse-shoes and hooted at an owl that later responded with a screech! While coming back to base for the weekend, we saw a small herd of bighorn sheep!
Over the break, I decided to prepare meals a head of time instead of just surviving on cheese and “in-town” food, so I cooked way too much curry and pasta-sauce, but it was good to have free “real” meals and plenty of leftovers.
For the first few days of part2, we were blessed with Megan’s company again, who helped us eat some of that extra food, but more than that, she helped spot the driver turn around in narrow roads and together, we removed several obstacles along the route. I think she also appreciated my frequent stops to admire the local flora. Because the landscape was mostly steep scree slopes, we could only take 7 non-inventory points of aspen stands along 5miles, and then drove past an old forest-fire atop the summit, where there were epic views, white-pines, and tons of wildflowers from the recent snow-melt. After some gate-code mix-ups, we headed to a ridgeline, but our outdated maps didn’t show the many branches of fire-access roads; this led us to explore a dead-end before we took what we believe to be the right road and hiked over 3miles along almost entirely lodgepole dominated post-burn forest. Suddenly the weather changed, and we were pelted with hail as lightning flashed in the not-too-distant landscape. It was refreshing but definitely got the adrenaline going to help the rush back to the vehicle. This time we camped at higher elevations, so we weren’t bothered by insects as much. However, I learned free-range cattle can moo all night…and eventually begin to sound like fog-horns when drifting off to sleep. I also discovered my crewmate’s pyro-talent, and lovingly gave her the title, smore-technician; also, turns out, Nutella makes a tasty alternative to hershey’s chocolate! The rest of the hitch was spent doing office work, like uploading GPS data, photos, and organizing files, as well as running some SCA errands before heading back to home-base. Of course, we had to make a pit-stop to look at 4 different species of penstemmon.
Trailwork. The bread and butter of any SCA program, and the South Zone crew proudly rolled back into Moyer with 10 days worth of dirt and sweat on their clothes serving as a testament of their hard work on Blowfly Trail. Phil McNeal of the Forest Service had only one request, that quality come before quantity, and that request was honored, with the trail corridor brushed out to 8’ in width, tread cut to a solid 2’ in width, and a 40’ section of heavily eroded trail stabilized with 6 check steps and as much crush as a crew of 5 could make until their arms were shaky enough to make drinking water a risky shirt-soaking endeavor. Yet the challenges of manual labor no longer mattered once the crew returned to camp and dinner was served, regardless of how creative some of the meals were towards the end of the hitch. Even Phil was pleased (if not a little surprised) to find the crew in high spirits and still “talking to each other” on day 8 of their first extended in-the-field experience while on a trails hitch. This was reassuring, but not unexpected, given the group of 15 twenty-somethings that make up SCA Idaho AmeriCorps, as well as the variety of beautiful locations where crews are fortunate enough to work here in the Salmon-Challis NF. Here’s to the great start for the South Zone crew, and may future crews build upon their accomplishments!
During the second hitch of Wildlife, the crew consisted of Jeff (myself) and Jess. We continued to find and inventory Aspen stands in the area south of Moyer. The process went smoothly, with dozens of stands inventoried. The off-trail hikes needed to reach the stands brought us through a multitude of stunning forest locations that are rarely visited by people. Megan one of our project leaders came out with our small crew on several days, assisting in the inventories and enjoying the local environment with us. The 2 week hitch concluded with a night of camping in Salmon and then downloading and organizing our GPS data the following day. After this hitch, the Aspen stands near Moyer have essentially been fully inventoried.
Hitch 2: Travel Stevi Swanson
Travel hitch 2 was a continuation of Travel hitch 1, with the exception that we traded out one of our crew members from hitch 1 for another during hitch 2. Crew members for hitch 2 included Nina Sackett, Eric Molnar, John Matthews, and myself (Stevi Swanson). During this hitch, our crew was partnered with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to assist with their “travel” plan by posting signage to indicate open roads (on BLM lands) to the public. The land owned by the BLM is generally open scrubland in the foothills surrounding the suburban areas of town. Our BLM contact person refers to it as “the land inbetween”; it’s the land “inbetween” the privately owned land and the Forest Service land (which are generally the forested areas). This area is overrun with roads created by years of public use. The BLM’s travel plan is meant to mitigate damage to the land by designating only certain of these roads as open and to close the rest to public use. The scrubland is used for cattle grazing and is also home to other grazing animals like muledeer, elk and antelope.
Our hitch was divided into two parts, each lasting four days. Our crew set up camp for those days in nearby campgrounds (mainly Morgan Bar, but also Shoup Bridge campground) operated by the BLM. We started our days around 8 a.m. to load up carsonite signs, signposts, postpounders, hardware and stickers for labeling signs. Then we took our maps and created a game plan to complete signage in a given area. We were also given Trimble GPS units and GPS cameras to use for navigation and to take pictures of each sign posted so that pictures could be associated and integrated with the ArcGIS program at the BLM. Over the course of hitch 2, we posted approximately 131 signs.
The work involved a lot of driving on some pretty sketchy roads. A few of our signs were to be posted on main roads, some just off highways. But the majority of them were posted on two-track dirt roads, many loaded with big rocks and deep ruts. Since our project was in the foothills of the mountains, the roads were often very steep. Most of the roads were pretty obvious, but some of them were ill-used and so grown over they were difficult to find. On the other end of the spectrum, some areas had so many roads - most of them user-created or “unauthorized” routes - that we had difficulty determining which road was the designated open one. But it was all part of the fun of our job. I think we all enjoyed getting out of the truck and walking along a route with the Trimble to see if it was “our” road, comparing it to the map, and we especially enjoyed the fun of off-roading and the array of wildlife we were able to view during the workday.
Hitch 2 wrapped up what I would call “Phase 1” of our work with the BLM travel management plan. Over both hitches, the SCA AmeriCorps team posted close to 300 signs and will be continuing to work on this project during the remainder of this program. I look forward to seeing what we’re able to accomplish
We survived! All four of us managed to make it through our second hitch! We were doing trail work on the Wagon Hammer Trail, which was the way Lewis and Clark adventured through hundreds of years prior. Our crew was pretty excited because although we were in backcountry territory, we were packed in by The Back Country Horse men so we did not have to haul in all our equipment. It wound up being 98 F so the fact that mules were carrying our packs, tools, and food was just delightful! To say the least! The Forest Service was there to show us what needed to be done and help guide us through the work. This is a trail meant for horses so our first project was to fill in two large dips to make the trail even. We used rocks from the upslope and from where we were cutting in the bench to make the tread wider to fill in the dips then covered it with dirt. This is called a retaining wall which adds stability to the tread. This was one of the only parts of the trail we worked on that was in shade so it was hard to leave this spot! One of our other main priorities was digging post holes for the new signs to be put up that mark the trail. Once we installed the posts, we built up a cairn around it to prevent cattle from using it as a scratch post. This proved to be quite a challenge at times because rocks large enough for the base of the cairn were few and far between. For the whole duration of our hitch we were quite a sight for sore eyes! We were all covered with dirt, mosquito bites, and sweat scrambling up and down hills that were coated with cow pies, horse poop, and flies. Good times! All together we installed 9 signs and cairns. The rest of our time was spent removing brush, clearing tread, and putting objects and obstacles on game trails to divert attention from them and keep horses and other users on the actual trail. Our crew maintained and restored 3,890 feet of trail; which is amazing! But I don’t think any of us were too sad to leave Wagon Hammer and come back to Moyer for showers and a clean bed! Till the next adventure…….
Our hitch involved two seperate back-country construction projects with the Forest Service. Our first week, we set out to build a cattle fense from barbed-wire and air-dropped fense posts from the previous season on recently aquired land within the Salmon National Forest. The project involved working in riparian areas far from designated roads or trails. To get to our worksite, we forded a river upon an old cattle fense, the water beneath us swollen with run-off from the winter season. Each intern had either heavy gear, a spool of wire, or barbed wire stretchers strapped to their back, meandering across the cattle fense to get to the foot of the mountain that was our work site. While crossing, I couldn't help but note that in all the fenses I had built, never did I have to climb a mountain or scale over a raging river. This was the most exciting fense I had ever built. We placed 200 feet of new fense and repaired over 500 feet of old fense on the first day, before finally getting washed out that evening by rain. The second project for our hitch consisted of building a single-stringer bridge across a waterway using lumber harvested from a snag using a cross-cut saw, along with benching and trail maintainaince work. 1500 feet of trail was re-benched and maintained. 450 feet of fresh tred was established.
Hitch 1 Travel: John Matthews, Dan Perez, Stevi Swanson, Eric Molnar
Our first hitch of the year with SCA Idaho Americorps was spent working with the BLM in Salmon, helping to implement their new travel management plan. To do this we installed signs on the large swaths of BLM land around Salmon and throughout parts of Lemhi County to designate which roads on BLM land are legal to drive on. We had two trucks for the project, and most of our time was spent driving in four-wheel drive on the steep, rocky terrain that makes up most of the BLM land around Salmon. To get our signs firmly in the ground, we used two massive post-pounders custom made for the job (appropriately nicknamed the Forearm Factory and Rick James). Overall, the hitch was definitely successful (despite temporarily getting one of the trucks high-centered on a side hill), pounding in over 120 posts over the two weeks; we will finish this project on future hitches and continue to work on the BLM’s travel management plan throughout the summer.
|Hitch 3 U-routes, Hitch Lead: Brett Member: Kelly|
|Hitch 3 North Zone Trails, Hitch Co-Lead: Jeff and Dan|
|Hitch 3 Wildlife, Hitch Lead: Jess Member: Jenna|
|Hitch 2 South Zone Trails, Hitch Lead: Dan Members: Brett, Kelly, Andrea, Kendra|
|Hitch 2 Wildlife, Hitch Lead: Jeff Member: Jess|
|Hitch 2 Travel, Hitch Lead: Stevi Members: Eric, John, Nina|
|Hitch 2 North Zone Trails, Hitch Lead: Stephanie Members: Kyle, Jason, Jenna|
|Hitch 1 Fencing, Hitch Lead: Kyle Members: Jess, Jenna, Stephanie|
|Hitch 1 Travel, Hitch Lead: John Members: Dan, Stevi, Eric|
|Hitch 1 Wildlife, Hitch Lead: Jason Member: Jeff|
|Hitch 1 U-routes Hitch Lead: Kendra Members: Kelly, Andrea, Nina, and Brett|
|SCA Idaho AmeriCorps Training|