SCA Trail Crew
C/O Steve Anderson
1415 West Rose
Walla Walla, WA 99362
Download our Final Report here!
We returned to the same base camp as the previous two hitches for our last hitch cementing this spot as our “home” in Umatilla. We were able to share this spot with our leader’s fiancé, Elizabeth, for the first day and a half before she returned back to Portland. This hitch we were a well oiled machine. Setting up base camp went the fastest it has ever taken, allowing us to be able to have the best start to a hitch ever.
The tread west of camp, roughly two miles, was taken care of on previous hitches so we headed east to the Lake Creek trailhead widening and smoothing every inch of tread in our way. Our plan of attack was to do as much continuous tread (no high priority spots were chosen) as we could, and then hope to reach the trailhead. We stuck to our plan like glue but due to limited time, by Monday we were unable to reach the trailhead so we jumped ahead and took care of one high priority spot.
As this being our last hitch we set out with the mindset of making it our best but there were some unforeseen events ahead that left us in a hard spot. On Thursday morning one of our beloved crew members, Jesse, returned home to take care of an ongoing medical problem. It was tough to say goodbye so early but in the end it was for the best. Also on Thursday another member, Andy, left to also address a medical problem for the day. Per usual on Sunday, we went to Jubilee Lake to do some R & R (on that note, Forest Service, please do not take down the rope swing). Overall though, we were able to thoroughly enjoy our last hitch in the Umatilla National Forest.
In the entire week the crew fixed 6,614 feet of tread, one drainage dip and cleared one tree. The crew’s last hitch was filled with our biggest down of the season -- Jesse leaving -- but also filled with many good moments and overall was a great final hitch to end the trail season.
|Intern work hours||330|
|Trail Maintained||1.3 miles|
|Standard Rolling Drain Dip||1|
|Tread Repair (backslope and berm removal)||1.3 miles|
“Always you have been told that work is a curse and labor a misfortune, but I say to you that when you work you fulfill a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born, and in keeping yourself with labor you are in truth loving life, and to love life through labor is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.” - Kahlil Gibran
The crew’s penultimate hitch found us returning to the same location as our previous hitch for setting up base camp. Base camp set up was quick and smooth as the familiar tasks had become second nature. By early afternoon the crew was on the trail and repairing more of the rocky tread located in the meadow just beyond our camp. We were visited by Amber, a former firefighter and current Fuels Technician who talked to us a bit about the work she was doing with our trail to help determine plans for fire control in the district.
On Tuesday the crew hiked out to the wilderness boundary and began repairing tread from the boundary and working toward camp. It rained multiple times during the work day but temperatures remained comfortable and the crew maintained good spirits. By Wednesday we had developed a plan of attack for the week’s work, with John flagging high priority sections of the trail to concentrate on first and intentions of connecting said sections after they were complete. This strategy worked well and progress was rewardingly quick.
Thursday found us down by two members as Andy experienced some medical issues and he and John went into town for treatment. Andy’s pain turned out to be nothing too serious and easily correctable, which came as a relief to the entire crew. Despite the labor deficit, the crew managed to put in a surprisingly strong effort and very little was lost in the way of progress on the trail. By the end of Saturday all of the flagged sections were completed and on Sunday we began connecting the tread in between.
The weather for Hitch 4 was decidedly chillier than the previous hitch, characterized by overcast, windy mornings and nighttime temperatures in the low 40s and high 30s. Afternoons were comfortably warm in the mid to high 70s, getting progressively hotter toward the weekend with Sunday being our hottest day.
While working on tread for the entirety of the hitch was physically exhausting, we were rewarded by our own quick progress and the sight of multiple visitors using our trail, including a couple of horse riders for whom our tread proved to be necessarily durable. By the end of the hitch we had repaired 5644 feet of quality tread.
|Intern work hours||393|
|Trail Maintained||1.05 miles|
|Standard Rolling Drain Dip||3|
|Tread Repair (backslope and berm removal)||5644 feet|
Hitch 3 began after a restful extended Fourth of July break. We returned to the Lake Creek Trail and set up base camp during Tuesday morning at the top of a ridge quite a bit further down the trail than where we were previously. In the afternoon we began work on what would dominate the majority of our week: tread repair. We lined up, classic chain gang style, and worked in 15 minute rotations on each tool. The trail was full of rocks through the meadow and progress was slow with the three pick mattocks delivering the brunt of the grunt work.
Tuesday evening we were joined by Trevor Knight from the office in Boise who rolled up around 9 p.m. in his Volkswagen van which somehow managed to navigate the treacherous and bouncy road to our camp seemingly unscathed. With an extra pair of helping hands to lend as well as a fresh source of stories to share, Trevor’s visit was a well-timed mental diversion during what became our most physically exhausting hitch to date.
We bid farewell to Trevor on Saturday morning and set out for a day of brushing and clearing to break up the monotony of tread work from the days before. We experienced difficulties when trying to start one of the brushers which slowed down progress on some of the clearing, but we made do with the brusher we had. Later in the evening John was able to fix the aforementioned brusher by some voodoo-like magic that we still do not understand.
Sunday was back to tread work, and in light of the stress that was put on the bodies of the members during this hitch, we quit work a bit early and took a trip to Jubilee Lake about an hour’s drive from our campsite. After a refreshingly cool jump in the lake we enjoyed a leisurely evening with delicious food and a rousing game of Settlers of Katan. The break rejuvenated the crew and brought up morale so that we could finish the final two days with our spirits high.
Monday and Tuesday found the crew finishing up the last of the brushing and corridor clearing. We connected with the wilderness area and put in place a new ‘No Biking’ sign. By the end of the hitch we had repaired 2112 feet of tread and cleared the remaining 1.5 miles of trail.
|Intern work hours||360|
|Tread Repair (backslope and berm removal)||.5 mile|
“I never enjoyed grander company. The whole wilderness seems to be alive and familiar and full of humanity. The very stones seem talkative, sympathetic, and brotherly. No wonder when we consider, we have the same mother and father.” - John Muir
Our second work hitch varied from the first in two main ways: the required work and the weather. Located along the Lake Creek Trail that leads into the North Fork of the Umatilla Wilderness, we were mostly assigned to clear the trail corridor. This included lopping or sawing branches off trees both vertically and laterally, cutting down small trees, using power brushers to clear woody plants, and sometimes performing tread maintenance. In terms of the weather, it was much better than the first hitch with mild daytime temperatures in the 60s and 70s with cooler nighttime temperatures in the high 30s. All in all, we accomplished a lot with little to complain about other than the physical exhaustion that is pretty much a given with trail work.
The first day was mostly dedicated to getting oriented and setting up base camp. We were escorted to our site and towards the end of the day we scouted out about half a mile of the Lake Creek Trail. During the following two days, we were mostly clearing the corridor from the beginning of the trail. It was not until the third day of work that we started looking at possible tread repair that we could do in addition to clearing. The next couple days we were split up into two teams: one doing tread work and the other corridor clearing, with a swap halfway through the day. Regarding tread work, we were focusing on widening the trail and redefining the hinge and backslope. As we discovered more of how overgrown the trail was in the coming days, we decided to switch back to corridor clearing with all hands on deck to get as much done as our bodies would enable us. In total, we cleared about 3.5 out of 4 miles on the Lake Creek Trail and maintained about 900 feet of tread.
Fortunately, this time we had minimal unwanted encounters with animals; although, we did see a herd of both bull and cow elk nearby our trail…As usual, the food tasted fantastic and of course, as John Muir said, the company was grand.
|Intern work hours||405|
|Trail Maintained||3.5 miles|
|Standard Rolling Drain Dip||1|
|Tread Repair (backslope and berm removal)||900 feet|
The Umatilla II crew began our first hitch with mixed weather. The days varied on and off with sun, rain, or clouds. The days were fairly warm, and the nights were chilly. On our fourth day we talked to a Forester who has worked for Umatilla National Forest for 30 years who said that “This is the coldest and wettest spring he has ever seen”. Despite the varying weather our crew maintained high spirits throughout.
For the first part of the hitch we stayed semi-front country/semi-backcountry. We were very fortunate to start off with our trailer and truck, for the first five days. One the sixth day we went completely backcountry and the luxuries we had at our first campsite went away.
Our crew of six started off the season strong and with excitement to learn and produce quality trail work. Our first task was to complete a structure called a ‘shallow stream ford’ along a small creek that crossed the trail. After three days of heavy moving, digging, placing, and crushing of rock we completed the ford structure. The bulk of the work we completed this hitch included tread repair and restoration on approximately seventy percent of the trail. Other tasks included 14 rolling drainage dips, two rock-reinforced drainage dips (water bars), and brushing & logging out trail.
In the backcountry our crew encountered a nocturnal animal that ate and gnawed on our personal items. These items included 2 pairs of boots, 1 pair of shoes, a work shirt, 1 pair of gloves, a chainsaw helmet, and a rain jacket. We concluded that the animal was either a pack rat or a possum, because it seemed to be drawn to all of our sweaty and dirty items.
Other than the small animal dilemma, our first Hitch went extremely well. We achieved good work, slept well, and ate well.
|Intern work hours||400|
|Trail Maintained||4 miles|
|Shallow Stream Ford||1 (80 cubic feet)|
|Standard Rolling Drain Dip||14|
|Rock-reinforced Rolling Drain Dip||2|
|Tread Repair (backslope and berm removal)||1.5 miles|
John Stegmaier is proud to be the project leader this summer for the crew working on the Walla Walla Ranger District of the Umatilla National Forest. This is his second year with SCA as a PL, having worked last summer with a corps crew in Virginia. He is inspired to work alongside talented and motivated crew members on enhancing & restoring multi-use single track trails. He currently lives in Portland, OR with his fiance and pug.
I am originally from Minnesota but now I am currently attending college at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point pursuing a degree in Environmental Education, and Forestry. I participated in an SCA high school crew in 2007, and was a member of the Minnesota Conservation Corps in 2010. The experiences I have had in trail work have helped me to grow in my beliefs and the person I am today. I am looking forward to another summer full of hard work, amazing people, and the great outdoors.
Hello! My name is Cecilia (Ceci for short) and I was born in Eugene, OR and raised in Oak Park, IL a suburb a little outside Chicago, among other places. I am currently a senior at University of Wisconsin-Madison where I study conservation biology and Chinese. When I am not doing school, I enjoy backpacking, skiing, biking, and simply being outside.
I was first introduced to the SCA in high school when I participated in a three and five week crew during the summer of ’06 and ’07. Both times were life-changing experiences and that is why I continue to be involved enthusiastically with the SCA and look forward to leading crews eventually!
Andy craves wild places and open spaces. He loves working and living in the Umatilla National Forest, and he finds great mental clarity there and in other remote settings. Andy currently attends the Pennsylvania State University, where he studies geography, environmental economics, and English. Throughout the past year, he has worked in an orphanage in India, studied ecology and geography in South Africa, and completed a quasi-obligatory solo trek through Europe. Next spring, he will graduate and undertake adventures of ever-increasing magnitudes. He sees only chaos and absurdity in this universe, but he nonetheless continues to survive and thrive.
Ben Greer is a northwest kid to the core where he lived until last year when he left to attend college in New York, He fell in love with the outdoors when he was a teenager doing school backpack trips and outward bound. Over that time he gained enough confidence and skills in the wilderness to go on hikes with just friends and no leaders. The time he spent exploring the outdoors he learned that the environment was fragile and needed to be helped. The Student Conservation Association caught his eye. After doing a high school crew and falling in love with the work he signed himself up for a core position.
Fun Fact: My favorite dance is the Robot!
I am from North Carolina and I am currently studying Sustainable Business Management at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC. This is my third experience with the SCA and my first time as a corps member. My previous high school crews took me to Chattahoochee National Recreation Area in Georgia and Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado. I keep coming back to the SCA for the beautiful people and the sweaty work!
Hello and welcome to the general information page for the SCA Corps Crew working within the Walla Walla Ranger District of the Umatilla National Forest. The district we'll be working in spans the eastern corners of the Washington - Oregon border. The beautiful Blue Mountains are a highlight of the forest, hosting a wide array of plants and animals. The forest's trail system is a valuable asset to the recreation community and receives use from hikers, bikers, skiers, ATV riders, hunters and more.
We'll be working to restore and maintain existing trails by:
We'd love for you to come out to the trail to say hello and see what we're working on. Or, even better, to lend a hand for a few hours on a project. Please get in touch with Project Leader, John Stegmaier, to make arrangements.
We'll be working in the general vicinity of Elgin and Tollgate, OR.
|Umatilla2 General Info|
|John Stegmaier - Project Leader|
|Hitch 5 -- This Trail Is Good to Go|
|Hitch 4 -- Hard Work Pays Off|
|Hitch 3 -- Digging In for Better Tread|
|Hitch 2 -- Finally Summer + Brushing|
|Hitch 1 -- Late Spring in the Blue Mountains|