Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Into the Backcountry!

This is gonna have to be a quick entry, but I've got tons to report! So starting most recently and moving backwards...

This week is 'work skills week:' we and about 10 project leaders (guys who will be leading trail crews this summer) have been going out to learn about tools, trails, timber, rock , tread and drainage, and a bunch of other stuff. I absolutely love it. (But then again, I seem to absolutely love everything we do, which isn't helping me narrow down my upcoming career focus.) We've been working 11 hour days--hence the tiredness and lack of time--but I've learned tons. THus far I've felled a tree with a crosscut saw (chainsaw training starts on my birthday); peeled a log (the most satisfiying job in the world--like picking a giant scab with an ax); used timber carriers with a team of 5 other people to carry said 15-foot log down a mountainside to help create a timber staircase; dug about 20 pounds of dirt from a trail; created rock fill with a doublejack (a sledgehammer for all you layfolk); moved an 800 lb rock to create a rock staircase; picked 6 ticks out of my hair; used MATH to help engineer the specs of the staircases (amazing, i know); walked up and down a mountainside approximately 45 times; forded a river; watched a mule deer almost die in a raging stream; and swung, sawed, chiseled, wrenched, and god-knows-what-elsed every tool in the SCA toolshed. I feel like a serious badass. AND I have a hardhat, safety goggles and Carhartt overalls on their way to getting very dirty. So yes, I think I am a badass indeed :)

OK, now... backtracking...

Sunday was our only day off, and--to make a long story short--I wanted to spend a relaxing day by the water but ended up instead hiking through hip-deep snow in my short-shorts to get to a lake that was frozen solid. Fun.

Backtracking some more...

Last week all 20 of us went backpacking in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness to learn backcountry skills (digging a latrine and pooping in a hole; carrying out all our waste and leaving no trace; hanging bearbags and tying knots; lightweight packing and organizing; cooking; etc) it was AWESOME. Again, I don't have much time to write, but basically, we packed up, drove for about 2 hours and parked at a campsite at the trailhead right on the Salmon River to spend the night. I dumped about two tablespoons of cayeen pepper into our first meal and ate the spiciest dinner of my life. My entire face was completely numb. The next morning, we hiked about 4 miles alongside the river through a stunningly beautiful valley to our next campsite. Then it rained and we had to cook dinner in the rain, and the next morning we hiked up a 3,000 foot mountain covered with wildflowers and with snowy, jagged peaks in the background. I felt like I was in the Sound of Music or Heidi. It was so great. We had lunch on the mountaintop and then spent some quiet, reflective time alone (alone time is something we don't get much of here so it was much appreciated), then were given topo maps and compasses and taught about navigation and plotting our coordinates on a map. It was all cool and interesting... but then we were told that we couldn't take the trail back down to our campsite and had to navigate a new way down in groups of three. WHich was quite possibly the coolest thing EVER, because there were NO other easy ways down besides the damn trail. We ended up traversing this wildflower-covered ridgeline meadow then heading STRAIGHTdown a mountain at the steepest slope imaginable and almost killing ourselves but again, it was awesome and then we swam in the river when we finally got back and now I really got run so apologies for the crazy run on sentence and lack of detail and photos!! More coming later.
Love y'all!!


  1. I am so jealous of you right now, and I never get jealous. The pictures and stories that go along with them are incredible. Thank you for the updates and all the info, and please keep them coming. Sounds and looks like you are having the time of your life and this is something that is right up your alley. Enjoy yourself KoLoLo and stay safe.

  2. Hey Lady... HAPPY 25TH BIRTHDAY!!! I know you're exactly where you want to be and having an incredible time. Love you lots.

  3. What's up hard worker? hope all is well. Send me pics of your new "badass" work attire, helmet and all you sassy thang! good luck. have fun be safe... Mwah