Tuesday, July 21, 2009

July is almost over! Ahhh...

Hola! Currently sitting outside of a little bakery in Stanley, spending a couple hours of my 'travel day' on the internet, beginning the dreaded process of finding a job in October. Still have 4 more hours on sketchy, middle-of-nowhere dirt roads to go today, though, so gotta make this brief.

My last trail hitch was absolutely awesome. I had one of the best groups of people I could have possible asked to work with, and we kicked some serious ass. The first trail we tackled was Little Jacket trail, and we cleared over 100 blowdowns with both the crosscut saw (in the wilderness sections, where motorized equiptment of any kind isn't allowed) and with the chainsaw in the non-officially-designated wilderness sections. We rerouted the trail in one spot where it had completely washed into the creek; dug out a backslope in a bunch of other places; lopped through several miles of head-high thimbleberry and willow thicket that had grown over the trail since the last fire; and built both some check-steps and a turnpike out of rock. The most fun part --besides hiking and sawing--was diverting a creek that had dammed up and run into the trail; it was like being 10 years old again and playing in the water, throwing around rocks and building walls and busting dams and getting soaking wet and filthy dirty with no one around to tell us what to do. The day before we had also gotten soaking wet, but that was because it poured rain on us for two hours and it wasn't nearly as exciting. My feet can stay 100% dry standing in ankle-high water all day long, but when buckets of rain are being dumped down my pant legs, they tend to hold the water until I feel like I have trenchfoot.
So we finished Little Jacket trail in less time than expected, and--as a sort of reward for working so hard--got to go work on upper Yellowjacket trail, which starts by the locally-famous Bighorn Crags at Yellowjacket Lake (in the photo above, with the beautiful reflection) and follows the creek down a waterfall, across a ridgeline, and through beautiful lodgepole pine forests and meadows absolutely brimming with wildflowers. I've never seen so many different wildflowers all growing together as I have here. Fuscia paintbrushes, purple lupines, white lilies, orange pestemon, blue asters and dozens more... and I can identify most of them!
Also of note: our trail crew, caught up in the throes of intense trail work, broke the handles of 3 doublejacks in a single day, so Claudia and I volunteered to drive back to Moyer in the F350 and grab some more (we also needed some other supplies). Just our luck, we got a flat tire on a steep, narrow mountain road along the way, but (here's the notable part) managed to change it on our own in the middle of a thunderstorm with only minor cursing and kicking at the vehicle. Also, I can drive a stick without stalling -- and open beer bottles with a lighter and handroll cigarettes. Very important skills, I swear.
So the trail hitch ended, I finally got to shower and shit in a toilet instead of a hole in the ground, and I also finally got to do some fishing. Caught 5 trout (3 good-sized keepers, one of which I threw back, two of which I panfried and ate - pic above) on Panther Creek within a 1/4 mi. walk of Moyer, and then caught 6 more the following day in nearby Opal Lake. Then Claudia and I packed up and left again for another 2-week roadtrip/survey hitch, and I forgot my pole. But oh well - we're having a good time as usual, getting to do some nice hikes and camping in some beautiful places, and next weekend we have free tickets to the Sawtooth Music Festival and we are on the list as 'crew' - so we get to hang out backstage and sleep in the trailer that serves as the office for the whole shebang. Can't wait!

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