After spending a relaxing 4 days in Lake Isabella, our crew moseyed on up to Chimney Peak and eventually Kennedy Meadows in order to hike into Manter Creek on June 19th, which is located in the Dome Lands Wilderness. This hitch was a self-supported 7.5 mile hike in to get to the section of the PCT that began at Manter Creek and wound its way south through a massive burn...the Manter Creek Fire of 2000. Needless to say, our packs were all very heavy, filled with enough food for about 7 days. The other 3 day's worth of food would be brought in by Trevor Knight, who was coming to stay and play with us for a few nights while our fearless Project Leader, Mr. Tim Carroll attended a wedding in Connecticut. Is this a test?
Our work scheduled quickly changed from an 8 AM start to a 7 AM shotgun due to the scorching heat and no shade on the trail. A few times throughout the day we were able to tie up a tarp to provide a little double blue shade for us to eat our lunch. Trevor came to help us out on the evening of the 22nd. He unfortunately had grown a bit soft from sitting in his comfortable office in Boise, and so when some thru-hikers gave him some misinformation as to where he could find our campsite, meaning he followed a round-about trail down toward the Kern River and bush-whacked his way up to our campsite, he arrived with some pretty gnarly blisters all over his feet! Of course the 20 plus pounds of food we had left for him to pack in did not help his load much...sorry about that Trevor, all those oranges just didn't fit anywhere else.
Our days consisted of waking up early to do some stretching and "ninja-ing", working super hard until 3:30, taking about an hour long siesta, floating down the Kern River, cooking some amazing dinners, and gazing up at the sky inundated with brilliant stars. Of course there were some pretty crazy times...gnarosis (a condition you can get from being in gnarly brush for too long) basically set in for nearly all of us at some point or another. Tims decided to play in the gnar...that was just the beginning. (The gnar in the dome lands consisted of extremely poky bushes that seemed to engulf you once you set foot in them to try to trim them back...super gnarly.) Carolyn got attacked by some raging red ants...ants in the pants are never good. Trevor's blisters, although wrapped heavily in duct tape, seemed very painful. Nate got stung by something...perhaps a scorpion...that made his hand go numb for most of the day. Tony pulled out a sagebrush only to find a little rattlesnake playing hide-and-seek...yikes! And Matt, the lucky man that he is, received his trail name...Snake Charmer. After floating the Kern River one day, he was sitting on a large rock drying off (the exact rock that Brendan had been jumping off of all week) until he felt what he thought was Trevor caressing his hand. Yes, Trevor has soft hands. But when Matt looked down he saw a rattlesnake crawling directly over his hand and into a crack in the rock! CRAZY!!!!! A little freak-out was definitely in order. But on the second-to-last day, Tim came back...with In 'n' Out burgers for all of us!!!! He saved the day because we were beginning to run out of food..."would you like a side of tortilla to go with that bread?" Let's just say we learned to be very creative with vegetable bullion and tortillas. Thanks Uncle T-Bone!
The work report:
After we backpacked 7.5 miles into Manter Creek in the Dome Lands Wilderness, we began work on the PCT about one-quarter mile from our campsite. Our first project was the Manter Creek water crossing. We cleared the corridor of all the overgrown rose bushes and other foliage and made a more defined crossing for hikers. The creek is fairly small so stepping stones worked wonderfully. The rest of that day was spent widening the trail to 18 inches, clearing the berm, redefining the trail by placing dead snags on either side, and building four drain dips about 40 to 50 feet apart to help with water shed. As we started making our way south away from Manter Creek, gaining in elevation, we had to incorporate more brushing and clearing of the corridor as well as bench cutting to widen the trail. Rock retaining walls were necessary in some parts as the outer edge of the banks began to get steeper and steeper. There was one particularly tidious section of rock work that required us to completely rebuild a pre-existing wall that was in complete shambles. This section was about 16 feet long and about 3 tiers high. Nearly everyday consisted of us doing some intensive rock work as well as grubbing and brushing the trail. Our team started to work like a well-oiled machine: 2 people would clear the corridor, next 2 people would use pick-mattocks to increase the tread width to at least 18 inches, and then 2 people would follow behind with McClouds to smooth it over. One day in the middle of the hitch, our crew hiked up about 3 miles to fix two sketchy sections in order to allow equestrians to safely use the trail. These two sections were probably the most treacherous mainly because of the steep outslope and crumbling rock walls. All in all, this hitch ran very smoothly and we performed some amazing trail work, as it was our goal to be very thorough