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