PCT 1 - 7/04 - 7/13 Hitch #3 Welcome to the "Gnarlight" zone!
Submitted by tcarroll.corps on Thu, 07/28/2011 - 17:39
The crew split up slightly for the last the last days off. Tim and Kristen stayed in the Mammoth lakes area to relax and explore while Nate, Matt, Tony, and Carolyn journeyed out through Yosemite to the coast to parlay in areas of Monterrey and Big Sur. The hitch, which would prove to be our most diverse yet, began on the birthday of great nation. That first day we spent shopping in the most gnarly priced grocery store west of Mississippi, the Mammoth Lakes Vons, (seriously never shop here if you have the choice, it eats the cash right of your pockets’s.) Next we hitched up the trailer and headed for Red’s Meadow, our base camp for the hitch located just a hop, skip and a stones throw from the Devil’s Postpile National Monument. Once we arrived at the USFS’s Sotcher pasture/campsite in Red’s Meadow we meet Brendan, our PCTA contact, quickly set up camp and prepared for the next day.
The next day we started with our usual 7am stretch circle and waited for Bill
Carter and George Boone (our packers for hitch 1) to arrive help us with work for the day. We soon realized strange a hitch it was going to be when Bill and George arrived and tasked us with setting up the gnarbed wire fence around the pasture in which we were camped. That first day in the “Gnar-light” Zone, as we later dubbed it, we lifted up and stretched 2,080 feet of fence and repaired 4 H-braces, which help keep the fence taught. That night our PCTA volunteer Eugene Leafty, “Sir Mix-a-lot”, met us at camp. The next morning we finished up the last section of fence and then proceeded to travel in the truck to where the PCT meets with the Red’s Meadow pack station. From there we hiked about a quarter of mile south on the PCT to a 80 foot long and 2 and a half feet deep trench that had formed on the trail after a stream had been diverted by a fallen log. We spent the rest of the day carrying materials from borrow pits to fill in the exceptionally large trench. Throughout the day cries of “just five more buckets boss” could be heard across the valley. While the trench was being filled several crew members constructed a reinforced drain dip to help with water management in the future.
The next two days of hitch were spent in x-cut saw class with a large California Conservation Corp (CCC) crew. Ying Chang, a PCTA volunteer also joined us. Our instructor was Keith Dawley a much experienced and wise in the way of the cut, Forrest Service employee. The first day of training was mostly lecture based with some demonstrations intermixed throughout. A surprise hailstorm erupted during one of Keith’s lectures but he didn’t miss a beat a continued as if nothing changed only briefly pausing to put his hard hat on. The second day of training was test day. It was fun to watch uncle Brendan get nervous before doing his felling certification test. Because of the enormity of the CCC crew only Carolyn and Tony of the crew got certified before Keith had to head out.
Our next day would prove to be our most gnarly yet. Our crew, with the help of 7 other volunteers and USFS employees was to head into the McGee canyon and wage war upon an epic avalanche chute that contained 65 downed trees across the trail. After the 4 and half mile hike into the chute we were all ready for battle. We split into three saw squads right off the bat and fought for many hours against the trees. They seemed numberless and the bind seemed to surround us utterly. But at last after many long and tiresome hours we had slain the last tree in our path and were ready for the journey back to camp. In the whole we worked thirteen strong hours as a team that will be remembered all who witnessed.
We took the bus to work. Yes we rode Mammoth transit bus from Red’s Meadow to Upper Soda Springs campground. From there we removed 2 logs from the PCT while Tony and Matt scouted 4 miles north.
That night we said good-bye to Ying. We worked a slightly shorter day to account for our massive day the day before. On the morning of July 11, 2011 Keith showed up to finish endowing upon us x-cut certifications. The crew members that had already received their certifications throughout the day worked on putting up the gnarb-wire fence around Red’s Meadow. Our last full day of work we hiked the 4 miles previously scouted by Matt and Tony and removed obstructions from the trail. Including two good size trees at the beginning of the day. We finished off the day with two more hours of fencing at Red’s. Our last day of hitch we gnared out the last of the gnarb-wire fence left in Red’s and packed up camp. By 4 o’clock that day we were taking showers at the Mammoth lakes Tack-room. Welcome back from the “Gnar-light” zone indeed.