Hitch 5 South Zone Trails
For Hitch 5 Joe, Brett, Kelly, Stephanie, Dan, Nina and I (John) were assigned to South Zone trails, working at a new location just south of Stanley. We had pretty plush accommodations as far as trails hitches go, staying at the Cape Horn guard station where we had access to a kitchen, shower and bathroom. Our two forest service liaisons who worked with us were also awesome: Steve, who had a striking resemblance to Mario but was all business with a chainsaw, and Tanner who let us use his kitchen and gave us western dance lessons at the end of each day. We spent the hitch building a 70 food turnpike over two small drainages on an ATV trail near to Winnemucca Creek, about 45minutes up a dirt road from Cape Horn. There were several phases in the construction of the turnpike. First we had to find adequately long logs that would become the stringers and sills of the turnpike measure them to perfect length and strip them of their bark. Simultaneously we dug trenches for the culverts and for where the stringers would eventually lay. This entire time two or three people would be driving one of the trucks to collect rocks for what was to later become the bulk and surface of the culvert. The most difficult task had to be measuring and cutting the wood to the correct size; Dan was the measurement expert for the joints that would connect the stringers together as well as to the sills, and Steve taught Joe his masterful ways with a chainsaw to cut the joints. The last few days were spent shuttling rocks to the site and crushing them into place, during which we managed to break two double jacks. Unfortunately we ran out of time to finish the project completely, though it was officially passable for hikers and ATV’s; all that was really left was to cover the turnpike with thinner fill and make it look pretty.
Overall it was definitely a successful hitch; morale stayed high the entire time, we ate well and we really felt like we were working on a project that would make a tangible difference. The only real complaint we had was the weather; it rained at exactly two o’clock almost every day, and we got some pretty intense lightning a couple days. One of the biggest highlights had to be the South Zone trail boss, Phil McNeil, coming count on two occasions to check out our progress and repeatedly saying how he thought we were doing a great work; on his second visit heeven worked the double jack for a bit and put us all to shame. Trail work can be a grind, but when you’re working with awesome people and feel you are actually making a positive impact it makes all the difference.