First Day of Summer Brings First Report from SCA Roving Trail Team

Imagine being part of a roving SCA backcountry trail team, working six weeks at Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in northeast Oregon followed by five weeks in Mount Rainer National Park south of Seattle. You live in tents, hike from worksite to worksite, and spend your days maintaining trails in the wild.

Well, we’ll try to help in the “imagine” department through a series of diary entries from Team Leader Jake Westrich (above, foreground) and (L-R) corps members Jon Daugherty, Alec Kong, Emmett Wurster, and Alex Fox. Given their remote locations, we expect appearances to be irregular – but thoroughly absorbing. Here’s Jake:

For our first hitch, we worked on the Minam River Trail (USFS designation: 1673). It was all brushing work and crosscut sawing. We were out there for nine days and cleared about 18 miles of trail, including the removal of up to 83 blowdowns.

We all overpacked and had very uncomfortable hikes in and out of our work area. But the team had a positive experience on their first hitch.

One fallen tree on a hillslope kept sliding back into the trail after each time we cut it, we spent like 45 minutes cutting it five times (usually it’s more like 10 minutes with one cut).

Below, a plane is taking off from an airstrip next to Red’s Horse Ranch, where we camped for three nights. The ranch is about 15 miles into the backcountry and is privately owned, but the caretaker was nice enough to let us pitch our tents.

We mostly eat oatmeal for breakfast, PB&Js for lunch, and dried soup/mashed potatoes/noodles for dinner. This is our coveted instant mashed potato mix — with some onions, bacon bits, and spices, it became pretty popular.

Finally, as we were driving out, we found that a tree had fallen into the road and we had to cut it to get out.