Using pack animals to carry our food and tents into our site illustrates the backcountry nature of this hitch. Instead of having a truck with 100 gallons of water we could easily tap for drinking, cooking, and cleaning, every milliliter of water had to be hand pumped or filtered through a gravity bag. This truly was the backcountry we had been looking forward to, and luckily we had Mission Creek flowing strong right next to our camp and the trail. Our remote location also made the dangers of trail work even more dramatic. With the spring thaw in full effect, and warm nights with even warmer days upon us, we had a plethora of reptiles to observe as they emerged from their winter dens to sun themselves. This includes, unfortunately for us, the 7 types of rattle snakes that we could possibly encounter on this section of the PCT. Luckily our snake sightings were limited to one fairly large yet nonvenomous snake, and a rattler on the hike out.
Given the wildlife and truly remote nature of this hitch, we didn't allow this to prevent us form working as hard as we ever had. We covered almost 3 miles of trail in our 8 work days, and even worked on a small project on the hike out. In many places we knew that our work would be washed out by the floods of biblical proportion that occasionally rush through this canyon, as well as the smaller, seasonal floods that move through. Because of this fact, many of our projects were built with a sturdiness that is rarely matched. The first day, we had a 2 minute walk to work, and by the last day, it was well over an hour back to camp at the end of our often 9 hour days. The creek was a godsend on some of the hot afternoons that we had yet to experience on our other hitches, even though we were nearly a mile above sea level for much of the hitch, the frosts of the first few nights quickly disappeared into warm nights and mornings, and hot afternoons that we will need to get used to for the next hitches. Luckily we had the creek to cool off in with quick dips of the head, or longer, relaxed, backcountry baths at the end of the day.
Because of the aforementioned flooding, much of the work we did was extremely transformative. Turning washed out side-walls into ramps, rocky areas into clear smooth trail, impassable areas with 16 inch diameter trees as debris into a grassy spot that looks as if it never was obstructed. We were also lucky enough to use our crosscut saw for the first time, cutting some trees thicker than 2 feet in diameter, and taking off a branch in one spot that took well over an hour of face cutting, sawing, and wedging before it finally fell and cleared the trail corridor.
As we hiked out the last day we worked on a small project, and knocked it out with the efficiency and teamwork that we have developed during out time together as a crew. We walked out cheery yet feet dragging from extreme exhaustion, using the buffet we had planned as our first meal back in civilization (along with Ada bars) as our fuel. Happy with our progress and high quality of work, we stuffed ourselves full as can be at the Morongo Casino Buffet, knowing we had truly earned it. Also it was quite funny to walk into a fairly nice buffet covered in dirt from head to toe, looking as if we had just survived a few months on a desert island.