Program Dates: May 23, 2011 - August 17, 2011 Michael Swanberg - Project Leader 201 East Second Street P.O. Box 905 Joseph, OR 97846 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 208.608.6322
Download our Final Report Here!
August 1 - August 9, 2011
For our fifth and final hitch, my crew members and I worked on three different trails in the Eagle Cap Wilderness section of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest: Hurricane Creek Trail, Buck Creek Trail, and The Chief Joseph Mountain Trail. Each trail offered unique challenges that proved to be immense physical, mental, and emotional tests for the team. But in the end, with cooperation and a dedicated group effort, we were able to exceed our initial expectations and clear a substantial portion of trail.
The first part of our hitch began at Hurricane Creek Trail, one of the National Forest’s more popular trails. We started out by hiking nearly seven miles alongside Hurricane Creek until we decided to set up camp near the base of Matterhorn, the highest point in the Wallowa Mountains. The next day was spent hiking the final few miles of the trail where it eventually leads into the Lakes Basin. At this point we turned around and cleared the section of trail between the Lakes Basin and our campsite of fallen trees and debris. For our final day on Hurricane Creek Trail we hiked back to the trailhead, clearing any fallen trees obstructing the trail. And in a moment of retribution, the final tree cleared that day was the same one an SCA employee had injured himself on during a previous hitch.
For the second portion of our hitch we found ourselves at Buck Creek, located near the southwest corner of the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Reports had come in that a swath of the Buck Creek Trail had been covered by an avalanche, making the trail practically impassable. Initially, we figured it would take the rest of the hitch to cut through the roughly three-hundred yards of trail covered by snow, limbs, trees, branches, and debris. In actuality, we were able to hike three miles in, set-up camp, clear the trail of over a hundred trees and an innumerable amount of branches and other debris, and hike three miles out in the span of two days.
The final days of our hitch were spent working on the Chief Joseph Trail. About three miles in was a section of trail covered by hundreds of trees and we were tasked with clearing it. The first day on the Chief Joseph Trail we covered the three miles with full gear and three days worth of food and supplies, clearing the trail as we hiked. After reaching the section of trail that required our attention we decided to look for a water source in order to find a suitable campsite. Unfortunately, we were unable to locate a water source and had to head back to our cabin near the Chief Joseph trailhead. For the next two days we hiked the three miles to the worksite and back and were still able to clear over a hundred trees from nearly two hundred yards of trail. Although we were not able to clear the entire Chief Joseph Trail due to limited time, we did manage to clear a sizeable section of the trail and we hope the next crew up on the Chief Joseph Trail will be able to finish the job.
Logs Cleared From 3 Trails: 302
Miles of Trail Logged Out: 9.5
July 18 - July 26, 2011
Back again from successful hitch number FOUR, the Wallowa-Whitman Trail Crew will now take you on a journey through the Eagle Cap Wilderness’ high country!
We started our hitch by welcoming two new members to our crew: Vern and John. They bravely accepted last minute invitations with little idea of what was in store and caught on quick. It is great to be back at full strength.
For our first project, we headed up the East Fork Wallowa River Trail to clear logs up to Aneroid Lake. What an eventful two days: we ran into many hikers on this popular trail, experienced a hailstorm at the picaresque lake and sadly injured Charlotte, our beloved cross-cut saw. Luckily, our Forest Service partner John has experience fixing bent crosscuts and was able to hammer her back into functional condition. After working the rest of the hitch, I can safely say that she is operating quite fine.
Once we were done with the East Fork, we packed up our gear and headed to Lostine Canyon to work on a few trails that spur off of the main river road. First up was Maxwell Lake Trail, which is a nice steady switchbacking incline until the last quarter mile or so, when the switchbacks disappear and the trail shoots straight up. We cut out our largest tree yet on Maxwell Lake and it took us a good part of a day, a couple of levers and a good deal of head-scratching. When we reached the summit we were treated to a beautiful glacial lake with excellent views of the canyon and Twin Peaks.
Next we headed to Bowman Lake Trail. We didn’t end up finding much work to do on the 5 ½ miles of trail that we hiked, but we did get more excellent views and got to see a large section of trail that had turnpikes built in the 1970’s still working in peak condition.
Our last trail for the hitch was the West Fork of the Lostine River. We had been hearing reports of large deadfalls and even an avalanche, so with much anticipation we trekked into the popular trail to find plenty to keep us busy for our last two working days. We cleared tons of trees in the first section of deadfall, which was a relief after hiking the Bowman Trail for a day without finding much to do. On our last day we attached an avalanche that had blanketed the trail with trees. With the help of some forest service trail workers we knocked out the avalanche in one afternoon and called it a hitch.
I am 23 years old and from New Providence, NJ. This summer will be my first spent with the Student Conservation Association and my first out West. I graduated last May from Rutgers University with a Bachelors Degree in Economics and since then have been searching for an opportunity to do some conservation work. I look forward to seeing the Wallowa Mountains and working with other members of SCA.
June 20 - June 28, 2011
We are back from another hitch on the Imnaha River Trail! This time we hiked out about 2 miles to camp at ‘Blue Hole’, which is a popular destination during the warmer time of the year to go swimming. As of now, the river is still running pretty quick so we didn’t go swimming, but we did run into more hikers than we had before which is encouraging. We spent our first day of hitch brushing back the ever-present Ceanothus bushes, but moved on for the rest of the hitch to bigger issues on the trail. First we cleared a large nest of trees that had fallen across the trail and diverted a stream to run right down the middle of it. By moving the trees and fixing up the drainage we saved hundreds of feet of trail from impending water-doom.
Our biggest project was further down the trail where a previously built bridge had collapsed. We tore the old bridge out and put a nice solid turnpike over the stream with two culverts underneath to allow the water to flow unimpeded to the river. This required moving hundreds of cubic feet of rock from the nearby hills and a whole lot of digging in the mud, but the end result is quite satisfactory. Be sure to check out the photos below and our ‘Project Information’ page to see GPS locations of the work we’ve done.
We also want to take this opportunity to say goodbye to Rick and Lander as they move on to other things. We wish them good luck in the future and hope they keep tabs on us here on our site!
Turnpikes Constructed: 1 @ 15' long
Tread Maintained: 100’
Rock Waterbars Built: 2
Drainages Maintained: 4
Logs Cut Out Of Trail: 40
Structures Removed: 1 Bridge
July 5 - July 12, 2011
The Wallowa-Whitman trail duo has returned from yet another extremely productive hitch. We moved across 3 different locations over the duration of the hitch. Our first location was the West Fork Wallowa trail. On Tuesday, we hiked up about 4.5 miles to stash some group gear and cut out 5 downed logs on our way. On Wednesday we went with John Hollenbeak, our coordinator from the forest service office, to Lostine Canyon. We fell and cleaned a tree for a single-stringer bridge that needed replacing. On our hike out, we cut out 6 downed trees from the trail. We returned to the West Fork until Saturday and cleared the trail up to Six Mile Meadow, a popular destination for visitors and horseback riders throughout the summer. In total, we cleared 53 downed trees off the trail. 4 or 5 trees were major problems, fully obstructing the trail.
On Saturday, we met up with Trevor Knight from the SCA office in Boise. We hiked up the Hurricane Creek trail, which was rocked by an avalanche at a chute called Slick Rock Creek. Snow, rocks, and debris covered the trail, but we deemed it safe to cross and set up camp a quarter mile past the avalanche. On Sunday and Monday we were extremely productive as we cut out 53 trees on Sunday and 32 on Monday. One of the trees on Monday was 2 feet in diameter and consumed a lot of our morning. We used a pry-bar system to remove the log from the trail, which worked quite well. Also, towards the very end of the day, Trevor had a mishap with the axe and sliced his toe while trying to limb a tree. He successfully hiked out with weight on his back on Tuesday morning and made it to the hospital where they gave him 4 stitches. He was a great sport about everything and was constantly smiling despite his setback. Later that day, we de-rigged from the hitch and said goodbye to Trevor the next morning. It was a lot of fun to work with him and have his energy on the crew. Thanks Trevor!
Miles of trail cleared for hiking: 11.5
Number of trees removed from the trail corridor: 144
Number of trees prepped for bridge construction: 1
Number of tasty loafs of backcountry bread baked: 8, mmmmm
Number of toes gashed: Just 1!
June 6 - June 14, 2011
Greetings from Joseph! Our first hitch was a success. We worked from the Indian Crossing Trailhead, which follows the mighty Imnaha River into the Eagle Cap Wilderness. The forest surrounding the trail is recovering from a forest fire and is full of charred and downed trees.
Starting on Monday we drove from along the Imnaha River to the Indian Crossing campground just outside of the wilderness. Route 39 still had snow on it, so we had to take the long way. From Tuesday to Friday we brushed over 8600 feet of trail. On Saturday, we built 7 drainage dips and 5 notches. These were built in order to allow water to easily be diverted off the trail in wet spots. We also redirected a stream that was flowing onto the trail. This helped dry out approximately 300 feet of trail that was previously rushing with water. On Sunday and the first half of Monday we brushed another 3250 feet. On the second half of Monday we hiked further up the trail to inspect further damage. We found many downed trees and a bridge that needed replacement. The scenery on the hike was beautiful and, besides quite a few run-ins with ticks, was very enjoyable. On Tuesday we returned to Joseph along the same route with hopes to find our trailer’s license plate that had disappeared on our way in. We failed to spot it, but we made it back safely and de-rigged from the hitch. Now we’re waiting for some snow to melt so we can go deep into the backcountry and continue our fine work!
Trail Cleared Of Brush & Branches: 11,875 feet
Trail Cleared Of Running Water: 300 feet
Drainage Structures Completed: 12
Michael got the itch to head west just before graduating from a small college in MN in 2009, and has been exploring the country this side of the Mississippi since. To that end, he spent one and a half years based out of Tucson, AZ working for the Southwest Conservation Corps. During his four seasons of service there, he maintained old trail, built new trail, planted good plants, removed bad plants, cut down trees, built staircases, picked up garbage, closed down roads, and – importantly – taught his crews how to play Cribbage.
So, after being reared in the “land-of-10,000-lakes” and spending lots of time working in the “land-of-nothing-even-resembling-a-lake”, he hopes to find some sort of middle ground in Oregon. Michael also has a background in Environmental Education and is always looking to learn from people and the world and to teach when he can. He is excited to spend the summer in the mountains and to get to know the northwest a bit more. He is also excited to play Cribbage.
Hey! I’m Joe. I come from a town called Randolph, the smallest town in Maine. I’m currently going into my sophomore year at Saint Michael’s College in Burlington, Vermont where I’m studying Mechanical Engineering. I like to snowboard and ski during the winter and mountain bike during the summer. I’m part of the Ultimate Frisbee club and the Wilderness Program at St. Mikes. Before coming to SCA I worked in a grocery store, so coming to do trail work was a major upgrade. I’m an avid backpacker and I wanted to take my experience west. Last summer I volunteered on the Appalachian Trail in Maine and loved it. That love brought me out here to the beautiful lands of Northeast Oregon. I’m extremely excited to be out west and show the Wallowa Mountains who’s boss.
|Edward "Vern" Vernarsky|
|Michael Swanberg - Project Leader|
|Hitch 5 - Hurricane Creek, Buck Creek, Chief Joseph|
|Hitch 4 - West Fork Wallowa, Lostine Canyon|
|Hitch 2 - Blue Hole|
|Hitch 3 - West Fork Wallowa River and Hurricane Creek|
|Hitch 1 - Indian Crossing Trailhead|