Project Leader: Drew Foreman Project Dates: May 17,2010 - November 15,2010 Email Address: Aforeman@thesca.org
This hitch started with a cosmic bang with the arrival of Spencer Thompson (aka Young Buck). His presence heralds a new golden age of trail work (yay, an extra person to carry a bear vault!!!). Having been picked up at the airport by the entire team on the first day of this hitch, Spencer had just a short ride to adjust to our silliness before being stuck for 7 more days in the wilderness with us. No easy task.
Tool hike-in day proved to be as physically intense as we had predicted, requiring us to now traverse about 6 miles of Ramsey’s Draft Trail to reach our starting point for this hitch. Also, no more weed whips folks, the trail has changed dramatically for us. No longer in the old logging road bed, the trail has begun to gain elevation on a rocky but beautiful hill-side. This requires a slightly different set of tools, including an extra pick-mattock for some more bench work. After working for several hours and showing Spencer how the Ramsey’s Draft team clears corridor, we hiked out, cooked a delicious pasta dinner, and hit the sleeping bags early to get prepared for a long hike the next day.
Day 3 is always a fun, but rough day. Once all of our team gear and food had been sorted and our backpacks had been weighed down with tents, bear vaults, clothes, and assorted camping essentials, we were ready to roll out. Another exciting feature of this hitch was a change in camping locale. Having pushed far past our last back-country camping spot, we were ready for a new base camp. When selecting such a spot, there are several different factors that have to be assessed: proximity to water (preferably not stagnant…), a good selection of durable surfaces to pitch our tents on (harder to find than you might think), enough space to spread ourselves out (and not put our tents right next to the kitchen area), and lastly, avoid areas with a profusion of dead hemlocks. Seeing large branches impale the ground beneath some of these trees will tend to make you a little skittish about putting your tent in the wrong place. Thankfully, we found the perfect spot and were able to set up our tents and kitchen and dig out a super awesome latrine (Wooo Kitt!!). Oh, did I mention that we do trail work on this day too?
Along with the usual corridor clearing that needed to be done, there were some new and challenging jobs to be done during this hitch. At one curve in the trail, a large, dead hemlock had splintered and was leaning against another dead hemlock right over the trail. This was a recent occurrence and it was decided that this was a hazard that needed mitigation. With some careful axe work from Drew, the leaner was dropped exactly where we wanted it to, and the other tree was felled easily. Once the trees were down, there was a lot of very interesting crosscutting to do, which Kitt and Piper tag-teamed successfully. This hitch also marks the first time in which I have gotten to really work in the dirt. Cutting out a wider bench where necessary, digging out a partially underground dead tree and leveling the trail (Yay Caitlin!), and digging out a new rolling dip. This type of work proved to be very satisfying and involved. The grand finale was crosscutting a Massive hemlock that was down across the trail. This was a full team activity that involved lots of sawing and pushing. This tree was so big that we were unable to crosscut it with the typical two-person approach, requiring us to single buck it most of the way through (which is just as physically demanding as it sounds).
After spending 5 nights in the back-country, the new and improved Ramsey’s Draft Team was craving CHINESE BUFFET. After 6 days of careful food rationing and relentless food fantasies, tunnel vision sets in. At the end of this tunnel (well, my tunnel at least…) is CHINESE BUFFET. Pure Hibachi heaven.
Once hike-out day has been completed effectively and we are all stuffed and immobilized, we head back to our apartment in Verona to sleep in plush, King-sized beds (just kidding, we sleep on the floor).
Our final day is cleanup day. This involves cleaning. Is your mind blown yet? Actually, it’s quite fun. We get to sort through and check our gear and clean and sharpen our tools. Once everything is clean, dry, sharp, and oiled up, we head back to our beautiful Verona habitat.
One final note: Spencer has proved himself an adequate member of our team. We shall keep him.