After our first cold nights, emergency room visits, spring hunting, mountain climbing, mule rides, 2 PM dinners, rock work, motel sleepovers, some classic ‘light as a feather, stiff as a board,’ and some eight mile evacuation hikes the first half of hitch three has come to an end. Tuesday was an early morning of sharpening tools and packing up, followed by breakfast at the Seiad Valley Diner with our favorite packer, Bill. We settled into Kangaroo Springs that night around dusk and got ready for the early morning of work we would face on Wednesday. The focus of the first half of the hitch was to connect the different sections of trail we had worked by fixing some sketchy tread spots, brushing the corridor wider or chain-sawing out some dead trees in between Desolation Saddle and Black Canyon Ridge. The first couple days went by quickly and were productive, until Saturday rolled around and things took a turn. We had started to explore and work on the other side of Rattlesnake Mountain which included some treading and rock work on a scree slope, when after two quick hours, our crew was faced with its first big injury. Connor had been skidding a large rock down the slope when it decided to flip onto his hand. We found out later it had been dislocated and transversely fractured. We got to put our wilderness first aid training to the test, then do an emergency evacuation. Connor was his calm and cool self for the eight mile hike to the truck, Bessie, and the two hour drive to the hospital.
It’s 11 PM on Saturday night, and right now Connor is in the post-surgery ICU wearing a gown, Andy, Kiroh and Chaz are comatose in the truck, half-asleep, half-listening to music and Chris is putting the final touches on some paperwork while singing along to Gillian Welch. We’ll head back out to Kangaroo Springs in the morning and this will all seem so far away. The crew woke up nineteen hours ago, Connor broke his finger fourteen hours ago. What a day. Here’s to the second half of hitch three!