Project Dates: June 7 - Aug 15 Project Leader: Daniel Moffatt Email: email@example.com  Phone: 208.484.3870
The crew spent the majority of their final hitch building Rock Cairns. What are Cairns? you may ask, well at their very least they are piles of rocks. At their very best, they successfully guide hikers and hunters through areas where the trail could easily be lost.
Our hitch was split into two different parts; the first half spent camped at the trailhead and the other packed 3.5 miles in. While we were at the truck, trailer and trailhead, the crew was able to get over to Olive Lake Campground and visit Umatilla 1 for some dinners and swimming. It was real nice to have another crew so close by. When we packed ourselves in, we camped at the junction on the South Fork Desolation trail. From there we worked tread about a mile down into an 800 ft valley meadow. After some final crosscut and log out, Umatilla Crew 2 was packing out and ready to move on.
Hats off to Mary G, Katrina, Chip and Dan for their hard work, and the successful and fun season!
Cairns Built: 73
Miles Brushed: 1 1/4
Miles Re-Tread: 1
Log Out: 9
The crew spent this Hitch up at Summit Camp at the junction of the two trails we would brush and log out. We started on the Blue Mountain Trail when on the ridge, overlooked the Malhuer National Forest and was a sight to see. That section of trail was a three-mile stretch through Lodgepole Pine reprod and beautiful alpine meadows. The wildflowers are beautiful companions and the meadows make for a great lunch spot. The other trail that was on the agenda was Lost Lake trail, and yes, we found the lake. Tucked away about a mile from our camp, we rested there surrounded by craggy rock faces and not much else. On day eight, we finished brushing that trail which totaled 2.5 miles.
The crew was very happy to have a day in the middle of the hitch to leave the loppers behind and work on a re-route project that needed some obvious work. In just one day they put in fifteen timber check dams to restore the old tread that was severely rutted out. There were a total of twenty-one check dams and three water bars put in to help rehabilitate the damaged trail.
Chip, Mary, Dan and Katrina are holding strong and working hard through high temperatures and long days. We are planning on seeing Crater Lake on our off-time, and Dan's parents are traveling all the way from PA to come out and see the place. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel but we definitely want to enjoy our last hitch together before we send everyone off in only 2 1/2 weeks. Whoa.
5.7 Miles brushed/logged out
1/4 mile re-route
21 check dams
3 water bars
The crew moved from the southeastern part of the wilderness to access from western side for this third hitch. We climbed out of the river valleys and creeks to spend our next eight days up on a ridge, near Desolation Tower. This was a far cry from the leisurely stay on Granite Creek, where the summer breeze and cool running water are always accessible for the over-heated and exhausted trail worker. Luckily, we had Handy Spring just a mile up the road we could use for drinking water, but there was to be very little to no swimming this hitch. Sad face. We were camped at the trailhead of the Cold Springs Trail, a six mile loop that goes down into Oregon Gulch only to climb right out and follow a ridgeline with spectacular views of the soft Blue Mountains and the Elkhorn Mountain Range. It was great to call it home for over a week, and we sure did get to know the trail well.
Our work this hitch was strictly brushing and log out. This means we head onto the trail with loppers and hand saws, toting the vintage cross-cut saw to handle the big (2-4 ft diameter) trees. A fire had burned through the area in 1996, and another last year, so we were clearing mostly regeneration lodge pole pines that grow like weeds after the land experiences a fire. A good comparison would be a tree farm. Plenty of saplings, roughly the same size and age, all fighting for their place in the world, much like a farm except more trees and a little less organized. So those are the living trees , a back-breaking bend-over job to cut the trees close to the ground and create a corridor that a hiker or horse would be able to pass through. For the dead and down trees crisscrossing the trail like a game of pick-up-sticks, we used saws of different shapes and sizes. Folding saws, a pruning saw, bow saw, and the granddaddy cross-cut. After eight days though, we finally completed the loop and left the place accessible to anyone who would like to get out in the Northeast Oregon wilderness, like you!
I finally found out why locals refer to this climate and area as a “high-alpine desert.” This hitch brought the seasonally average temperatures reaching the low to mid 90s up on the ridges in the afternoons, and it was not uncommon to goes days without seeing a cloud in the sky. We were grateful for the summer thunderstorm on Friday night that brought a little breeze and some cooler weather. With three hitches down and two to go, the crew is really coming into their own, and the days seems to be speeding by. The crew is going to see the giant Redwoods of California for the time off and will welcome a new member for the remainder of the season.
Brushed - 31680 ft.
Log Out- 82 logs
The Crew came into the second Hitch rested and relaxed from time well spent in La Grande, OR mostly. It’s the nearest town with all your off-time needs (motel, showers, food, laundry, and a movie theater). After three days, however, you’ve seen all you can see and have done all you can do in La Grande, so each member was ready to get back out into the field, a very familiar field at that.
On Monday morning, we drove the same drive on the Forest Service 52 Road, towards Granite. This time we stopped a little short of a two mile hike in and just camped at a lower access trail head, right next to out Truck and Trailer. Hence, “The Secret Life of Luxury.”
First, we started with 44 liters of potable water, so no filtering for a while, and we had plenty of food storage at our disposal and believe you me, we took full advantage of that. Pan-seared Salmon the first two nights for dinner. Eggs in the morning for breakfast. We brought the Coleman 2-burner stove which attaches to a propane tank, so no more pumping and filling fuel bottles for us, no way. Along with the stove came the oven, yes an oven that sits on top of the stove. We tried it for the first time and had Apple Cake which was delicious, and the girls made Daniel brownies for his birthday. Yeah! Okay, let’s get back to the site. We had Granit Creek all to ourselves and it was running cool and clear ever since the water level has gone down with the coming dryer weather. The Beach was the place to be after the long hot days brushing on top of the ridge or finishing the re-routes. And it wasn’t a beach at all. Piles upon piles of river rock left by the pioneers dredging techniques searching for gold in the late 1800’s. But it was our beach and it was great.
We also tried a new schedule this hitch, nine, nine hour days to give us an extra day off between hitches. So we were getting up earlier to get out of work around 4. That was real nice to have the evening to eat, read, swim, eat, slackline, and watch a movie. Yes, a movie. Remember, Luxury.
So we had a celebrities stop by and entertain us. They really appreciated the work we were doing here in the North Fork John Day Wilderness. Jim Gaffigan, Zooey Deschanel (twice), and Philip Seymour –Hoffman to name a few. We figured it a nice treat to watch an actual movie rather than just quote and talk about them all day.
OH YEAH, the work we did. I almost forgot it was work we were having so much fun. Dan Neff was our Hitch Leader and he had the crew in tip-top shape. Unfortunately we lost Jake due to health and timing. He is doing well and we wish him the best in Portland. The crew logged out a 180 year-old Ponderosa Pine that had fallen across the trail, ‘Big Benjamin’ as he was named by Chip. Big Ben measured 46 inches in diameter and is the biggest tree we’ve encountered on the trail so far. Well, biggest we’ve had to cut through. He was a 5 hour project with cross-cutting, disconnecting, chopping, moving and clean-up. With that, we finished up more tread work and completed brushing the Granite Creek Trail. This hitch we finished two re-routes of trails that had been washed out by the river or over grown and gullied out by high water. Those re-routed totaled 320 ft, and the new tread we grubbed in was over 250 ft. We brushed 5 ¼ miles over the 9 day hitch. Overall it was a great hitch with plenty of dessert.
The crew is planning on camping locally in the Eagle Caps Wilderness and then head near Portland for the Fourth of July. Celebration of Independence. America!
Yowsers. Who knew the first night at camp we would get SO acquainted? After a half day of pack in and the other half working the trail, the crew returned to base camp and immediately stripped to their skivvies and had a tick check. (Separate genders of course...) It actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise because when you know everyone's mole placement and tick-friendly areas, it's a great foundation to build a well oiled machine of a tight crew.
So that's how it all started, day one, hitch one.
Most of our work was maintenance on the River Trail, general brushing, re-tread, and log out. About day three, we started and finished a 150 ft re-route of the trail that had been washed out by the high water. The crew used the cross-cut saw to remove huge down trees and busted new trail to bring it around to the existing usable trail. So we brushed and logged some more, and doing that really works up the old appetite. So let's get to the food.
The crew ate like Kings and Queens for about 8 out of the 10 days because we sort of ran out of fuel and breakfast foods, but rice and cous cous for breakfast isn't all bad. Jake and Katrina helped make some of our dinners 'Gourmet' with the wild Morel mushrooms they harvested. Yum. Wild Mushroom Corn Chowder, Mac & Cheese Mexican Refried Bean Casserole, Stir-fry, Red Bean Quinoa Peanut Butter Medley, Penne Canned Chicken Pesto...just to name a few. My stomach is growling just thinking of those meals.
The weather from the Northwest seemed to follow us for the beginning of the Hitch with two rainy days, just enough to soak the boots and keep the river raging. But after that, the rest of our days were filled with that Oregonian Super Sunshine, not a cloud to be seen. This made the after work wash/dunk in the frigid river a little more tolerable. To save space, Brian (Chip) and Dan shared a tent as well as Katrina and Mary. They are now as snug as a bug in a rug. Jake and Daniel decided to take their own tents and were happy to have the space as Night Mice late in the hitch started to nibble (chew, tear up) on weird things like boots, gloves, shoulder straps and mouthpieces. BUMMER! Turns out the SCA and the Forest Service aren't the only ones who like our sweaty (salty) hard work.
Katrina also brought out her incredible photo taking machine when the weather was nice and she snapped some great shots. The crew camera also made an appearance but both ran out of battery with too many days left in the hitch. We have learned our lesson to come in with full charge! Not just in batteries, but in everything!
Overall, we hiked about 40 miles, brushed/cleared 5.5 miles, logged out a bunch of obstacle trees, and had a grand ole time doing it in just 10 days.
To end, we gathered in a circle and downed the last of the Honey, Syrup, and "Real Strawberry Topping" from the No-Bake JELLO cheesecake. Sugar Circle.
So now we've got four days off and head in on Monday the 21st, for a nine day hitch in the same area. Gotta love it! See you back here in a fortnight!
Well, it was a beautiful day on May 22nd when the crew finally met and got to know each other. The smiles had traveled a long way from MI, NC, PA and VT to a little town in western Washington for orientation and training and the stage was set. After 5 days of brain-busting risk management and SCA intros, wilderness first-aid, and plenty of power points, everyone was icthing to move camps and start the hands-on component of training we like to call Workskills.
Be it that it may, the Pacific Northwest played up to par and dumped untold inches of rain on the crew while on the trail learning and experiencing new skills and ideas. No matter how soggy their rain gear became, the enthusiasm and excitement for the season shone through the dark gray clouds and that kept spirits high.
Once officialy "workskilled," this happy little 2matilla crew (as we like to call it) began the short road trip crossing the courageous Columbia River down into Oregon. Each member is now taking sometime to clear their mind and prepare for the first hitch, which will be 10 days starting at the Granite Creek Trail Head, leading into the NFJD Wilderness.
Monday morning, June 7th, will start our season. We will find ourselves in the morning commute, on foot, clearing trail, one step at a time.
I have lived in a cabin or a tent for 83% of the last two years years of my life...not so bad. Most of my trail experience came from a 10 month internship with the SCA as a part of the New Hampshire Conservation Corps where I led crews in the beautiful White Mountain National Forest. Our crews built a rock staircase, a large turnpike, bog bridges and other structures to address drainage issues and erosion control. Prior to that I was a Trip Leader with Cheerio Adventures, leading students on adventure recreation trips including canoeing, kayaking, backpacking, climbing, mountain biking, caving, etc...in the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. I love working and living outside and being surrounded with people aiming to accomplish a common goal.
I participated in my first triathlon last summer and I'm already signed up for another this fall. Cycling and swimming are a favorite past time as I grew up on the shores of Lake Huron in Northeast Michigan.
With a bachelors degree in something totally different than outdoor recreation, I consider myself lucky to be a part of the SCA and count everyday I get to work and play outside as a blessing.
Katrina Kochin 
I am a nature/adventure lover who has moved around my entire life. Seriously, for not being an Army Brat I had lived in 4 states by the time I was seven. However, there is something about the Great Lakes that always seemed to call me back.
Working with my hands and helping to conserve our planet is a passion of mine, so this internship is right up my alley. I love working with wood and metal and have a couple of years of metal/wood working classes under my belt and can make some pretty cool stuff or just repair things. I also love to volunteer and help my community. From volunteering at the local theater to doing work for the National Relief Network I have picked up a love for helping others. I would have to say the most rewarding work I have done so far is the work I did for the National Relief Network in 2001. We went down to South carolina to help clean up after a flood had devastated the area. While out there, we helped tear down and rebuild a church as well as clean up debris. It was by far the most rewarding experience I've had so far.
I am crazy excited to get out to Oregon and start getting my hands dirty and making a difference.
Mary G. Polk 
I am 21 years old, I have lived in Michigan my entire life. I am going to be going into my fourth and final year at Western Michigan University. I am double majoring in Recreation and Environmental Studies. I love be outside and to learn about nature, wildlife, and wilderness and look forward to a summer full of new experiences.
Brian Roach 
Hey ya'll I'm Brian but a lot of my friends call me Chip because I look like I could be named Chip. People have also called me by just my last name Roach and when I was a freshman in high school a senior called me David all year, for the same reason because I look like one but he was pretty dumb, so call me whatever you feel comfortable with, I respond to it all now.
I'm a very talkative. I like to tell stories and hear about other people’s adventures. I have been fortunate enough to travel to some awesome places and had some really formative experiences from them. I found my love of the outdoors from attending a backpacking outwardboundesque camp. I can get into any type of sport professional or outdoorsy. I'm psyched about this summer for two reasons because I get to camp the entire time and I feel that the best way to get to know some is by spending a lot of time with them outside camping and getting smelly sweaty and dirty with them.
I can't really sum up anything about myself here but I hope you guys are as amped as I am to get brawndo working on the Oregon Trail, minus the cholera and without wasting ammo on the squirrels.
Make it a great day!
Dan Neff 
I am a 21 year old senior at Penn State University studying Outdoor Recreation Management. I am an avid nature lover as well as kayaker and backpacker. I am also a guide for a Penn State Program called Adventure Recreation. I did another corps program last summer at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area which was sweet. It was my first foray into volunteer work and I really get a sense of accomplishment out of it. I have also volunteered at a Nature Center helping out with maitenance in the birds of prey area. I am really excited to be out in the wilderness, and see a part of the country I have never been to
About the Site 
The crew will be completing 12 weeks of service mainly within the North Fork John Day Wilderness Area in the Umatilla National Forest. The mojority of the work will be log out, brushing and tread and drainage work along the river trail. The Umatilla National Forest, located in the Blue Mountains of southeast Washington and northeast Oregon, covers 1.4 million acres of diverse landscapes and plant communities. The Forest has some mountainous terrain, but most of the Forest consists of v-shaped valleys separated by narrow ridges or plateaus.
The landscape also includes heavily timbered slopes, grassland ridges and benches, and bold basalt outcroppings. Elevation range from 1,600 to 8,000 feet above sea level. Changes in weather are common, but summers are generally warm and dry with cool evenings. Cold, snowy winters and mild temperatures during spring and fall can be expected.
From rolling benchlands to the granite outcrops of the Greenhorn Mountains, the rugged North Forest John Day Wilderness provides diverse landscapes. Much of the wilderness is composed of gentle benchlands and tablelands; the remaining of steep ridges and alpine lake basins. A continuous vegetative canopy covers most of the land, including dense virgin stands of conifer species like Douglas-fir, white fir, western larch and lodgepole pine.
This wilderness, which is broken into four segments and traverses two national forests, is known for its big game and anadromous fish habitat. Headwaters of the Wild and Scenic North Fork John Day River is in this wilderness, accounting for many miles of steelhead and trout habitat. Dominant wildlife species are elk, deer and some bear. Many small game and nongame species also inhabit the area, as do mountain goats.
Over 100 miles of trails serve both hikers and horseback riders where the lay of the land calls for long-distance trips with many elevational changes.
PREHISTORY AND HISTORY
The North Fork John Day River corridor was used in prehistoric and (written) historic times by the southern Plateau Indians. In particular, ancestors of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) are said to have used this area extensively in prehistoric times for hunting, fishing, camping, root digging and berry picking.
Gold mining was the primary activity which first brought substantial numbers of people to the Blue Mountains in the 1860's, and evidence of this "gold rush" still exists along the river. Evidence of this history includes various structures for habitation and use, mines, prospect holes, and other related developments. Other minerals such as silver, copper, lead, zinc, chromite and manganese were produced in small quantities.
Courtesy of the US Forest Service website.