Hitch Leader: Bri Wills
Member: Joe Duszak and Rango the Durango
Hopefully, dear reader, you have been religiously following the SCA Idaho AmeriCorps blog and already know what a U-route is. If you haven’t for some crazy reason, I suggest that you check out the blog post from U-routes Hitch 1. It is extremely well written and explains very well what a “U-route” is exactly.
The second U-route hitch was composed of myself, Joe, and Rango (as we affectionately started calling our trusty Durango). The first two days of our hitch were spent getting “stragglers” which are U-routes that were left behind from other hitches. Stragglers are annoying and are often stragglers for a reason: meaning that they were impossible to get to, on private property, or just a pain in the butt to hike. We did however get to see some amazing beautiful parts of the forest (like Meyer’s Cove!) and we happened upon a Mama Blue Grouse and her babies. We noticed the mom first and were practically stepping on the babies before we realized they were there. Another U-route we walked had such textbook concerns that we jumped up and down in excitement upon arrival.
On Thursday, Joe humored me by attending a Forest Service training on Plant Pests and Diseases. We met up with the South Zone Veg. Crew in Challis and spent the morning in the Challis office where there was a slideshow/lecture and then headed out into the forest to see some real life examples of what is going on with the trees. After the training was over (which was around 4 PM), Joe and I decided to try and finish up the U-routes around Challis to make up for not working U-routes during the training. This ended up being a little over ambitious and led to a stressful evening of being slightly lost in the foothills of Challis. We made it out eventually, but didn’t get back to camp until 11 PM.
The next day Joe and I headed out to the Bay Horse Lake area, which is one of the prettiest areas I have gotten to see in the forest so far. Joe and I took a mid-afternoon break and swam in Little Bay Horse Lake. This area was not only gorgeous but had some of the most interesting U-routes because they were created for mining purposes. We got to see some old mine shafts and abandoned buildings built in the late 1800s. Joe and I quickly determined that there are three types of U-routes – mining, logging, and rangeland. Mining U-routes are the best. Rangeland and logging – not so cool.
Overall Joe and I had an amazing hitch together. We beasted out approximately 150 U-routes. We also discovered that we have virtually identical musical tastes and listened to some amazing music too. In our free time we rinsed off in various lakes and streams, we coined the term “front seat food”, made fires to keep mosquitoes away, killed mosquitoes (I was averaging 15-20 a night, I liked to kill them on Joe’s back and then leave them there as a warning to other mosquitoes), reading our books, and mingling with other forest visitors. Despite the 15 mile hikes, overly energetic mosquitoes, and muffler-killing forest roads, I think we’ll both look back on this hitch fondly… farmer’s tans and all.