After saying goodbye to Mammoth Lakes for the summer and enjoying some epic days off, our crew headed north a bit to the Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest for our next hitch. After spending 2 months in Mammoth we were very excited to move north and see a few new parts of the Sierra’s. Joining us on this hitch were 3 volunteers with the PCTA, (Lucian, Emile, and Justin), along with 2 Forest Service trail workers (Sarah and Heidi). We met with volunteers and agency folks and the Leavitt Meadows trailhead just south of Sonora Pass. Thank goodness we got packed in for this hitch because the hike in was 12 miles. We set out following the West Walker River as the trail snaked along side it for most of the hike. We’re just north of Yosemite National Park and this area is somewhat of a last hoorah for the high Sierra’s. One final stretch of high elevation granite with many volcanic rock formations starting to take their place at the southern end of the Cascade range. We clearly underestimated, and had forgotten, the amount of food that two 18 year old boys can eat when, after the first morning, nearly all of our breakfast food was gone. Wondering if we were going to have enough food by the end became a constant nag in the back of our minds this hitch. We had a 2.5 mile section of trail to work on for these 10 days with instructions to fix and rehab anything that we deemed appropriate along that stretch. It was a very welcomed surprise and we now had the choice of what projects to work on for the hitch. Our section stopped right at the border of Yosemite National Park and stretched north from there. We started out on day one building check steps in the trail where it had been trenched out from years of use. On day two we set to work building a long turnpike through a seasonal wetland/pond type area. It took all of us nearly 3 days to finish the structure but by the end of the 3rd day, it was 45 feet long and we had gained almost 10 inches of relief from the muddy, swampy remnants of the old trail. We spent the next several days brushing and clearing the trail of branches, rocks and obstructions. Sarah and Heidi took the PCTA volunteers out one day to log out some of the surrounding trails with a cross-cut saw. On the final day of the hitch, we scouted a section of trail just past the outlet stream for Harriet Lake. It was steep and poorly designed, leaving huge trenches and no place for water to flow off the trail. We broke off into groups and built 6 check steps, and crucial water bars and drain dips and vastly improved this short stretch of trail. We installed several new signs during the week to replace old, rotten trail signs. As we approached the end of our section of trail, the last sign went in marking the end of our work week. It was an excellent hitch in the high country of the Hoover wilderness and it was nice to have such an interesting group of volunteers and Forest Service people to shake things up a bit for one hitch.
October 15, 2011 •