The start of our fifth hitch was an emotional challenge for Team Beaverslide as we have come to call ourselves. We had just received the tragic news that Tessa, our high-spirited family member, had to leave the PCT and return home to Texas to rest a broken foot. It was a tough reality to swallow; in many ways, Tessa was the glue that bound our clan of different personalities together. Nonetheless, we spent our remaining days of break together enjoying each other’s company, picnicking on the beach of the beautiful Northern California coast, barbequing an extravagant farewell dinner, and enjoying a concert in the park. It was a memorable weekend of bittersweet fun- all the way up until our final moments together at the Eugene, Oregon airport where Tess left us. We did not say “goodbye”, however. Team Beaverslide remains hopeful that our sixth member will return to us in due time with a healed foot and rejuvenated excitement to resume trailwork.
Going into the hitch a day later than expected, and with our team consisting only of five members, it could have been a rocky start. However, we had two lifesavers among us to keep both our spirits and our manpower high: Forrest and Sara, a friendly young couple from California and Michigan (respectively), had happily signed up for the challenge. Neither had ever worked trails before but what they lacked in physical experience they made up for tenfold in the analytical logistics of trailwork—both were engineers. Their dedication to the trail, knowledge of land structures, stories of worldly experience, and witty humor deemed Sara and Forrest the coolest volunteers on the block. We all wish they could be permanent members of Team Beaverslide!
The seven of us spent the first work day hiking the entirety of the assigned 4 mile section of the PCT, scoping out problem spots where various work projects would later be carried out. Headed south-bound with our packs full and sticking to the sweat on our backs, we discovered the hard way that the weather in this area of Klamath National Forest was more humid than we had expected. The hike uphill was laborious and long so we split up into small teams for the following three days of the hitch; some members worked the bottom few miles and others at the top section (miles 2.5-4.0).
Subsequently, we were able to accomplish quite a bit of tread work and lopping along the 4 mile stretch. This hitch marked the season’s christening for Feliciana, our cross-cut saw, and also for an often unused tool, the weed whip. Because of the heavy Vine Maple that had encroached on the trail, sometimes to the extent that the trail itself was invisible, the weed whip was a lifesaver. Overall, our crew built and/or fixed approximately 3 drain ditches, built 1 armour/partial rock retaining wall, cleared away 3-4 down trees blocking the trail, widened about 300 feet of tread in total, and weeded various sections of extreme overgrowth on the 4 mile stretch.
The work required of our team on this hitch was not as hefty of a challenge as we were accustomed to. However, an especially pleasant surprise was the variation of the work; one could hardly grow disinterested when each day offered a new project to tackle. And with the addition of our two wonderful volunteers, the hitch was a certain success.
Trail Maintained: 4 miles