Hitch five is over and mid-season is officially here. Crew PCT ’12 found ourselves working in another beautiful new area this week, the Tahoe National Forest. After saying one last goodbye to Mammoth Lakes, we were off to Downieville, CA – about an hour drive outside Truckee. Our new living situation is a bit more posh than our last – the USFS barracks have beds, washer and dryer, a kitchen, even a VCR player. It’s ok to be jealous.
After a day living the life of luxury, we were off to the new base camp. Instead of going backcountry this time, we managed to snag a campsite at the wonderfully scenic, roadside adjacent Granite Flat campground. Rather than stick around too long, we went to work after a brief meet and greet with the new contacts, Bob Holland and Jeff Curtis, as well as the PCTA volunteer helping us out this hitch, Rick Ramos. The trail access was from the actually scenic Aspen Meadows Ski Resort, up a rough dirt road that had a panoramic view of Lake Tahoe; a good welcome to our new home for the month.
The work this hitch took us in a new direction as well. After a month of log-out, it was time to learn about rock work, tread maintenance and some light brushing. The big project was a stone crib wall that took all four days and much smashing and searching to complete. Other side projects included tread widening, retention wall tread improvements, and a few miles of shrubbery to remove.
Work was only half the fun this hitch though. The drive down on the first day really began when we took a wrong turn on the dirt road, which led to an even more rough, vegetation covered road. Nothing gets in the way of the truck. Not even the bunny slope we ended up driving down. SCA truck – 1, Aspen Meadows Ski Resort – 0. Later that day, Tom Moutsos , SCA Regional Director in the Southwest and California, joined us with ice cream, watermelon, and his family to help us out. Oh, he also came to work too, which was awesome. Truckee Thursdays also happened, where we all took part in getting confused, concerned, even repulsed from the local populace. I can only assume it was because they couldn’t handle our wicked dirt tans. Our glorious PL even found himself being stalked by a cougar.
Somewhere between the work, the people we get to meet and work with, the unpredictability and stories to last a lifetime, it is easy to forget all that is being accomplished this summer. That goes beyond the work aspects and applies to each of us out here; each one of us has a different experience, goals, what they want the outcome of all of this to be. Our reasons for coming here are undoubtedly different. The common thread is that, despite our differences, we all want to improve ourselves and the world around us.
Sometimes the work may be monotonous, sometimes it may be exhausting, sometimes it might even go unknown to the hikers. It is always worth it. Regardless, the work being done strengthens a connection to the natural world, which is something that is very difficult to do in a world such as ours. That is enough to keep me going strong.