Friday, May 29, 2009

I returned to Montana on April 22nd or so. I furiously tilled and planted a garden at my mom's house, brewed a beer and started squash in the kitchen under heat lamps. Then I started my summer job on a trail crew with the Bitterroot National Forest.

I am on a three person level 1 crew that logs out and maintains the western front of the Bitterroot Mountains. You may see us crosscutting on one of your favorite trails such as Blodgette Canyon, Kootenai Creek, Chaffin Lakes or Big Creek. Currently, I am living in Stevensville and working Monday through Thursday. We took two weeks to build a bridge on the South Fork of Lolo Creek. It was a really cool project and I got to use some carpentry tools that I had never used before. My initial feelings about this crew and this forest have all been positive. My supervisor is supportive, organized and motivated and my coworkers are hard working, fun-loving, like-minded folk.

I spent two days teaching wilderness trail skills to grade schoolers from the valley. We used an interpretive trail and lots of props and games to teach them Wilderness history, ethics and law and Leave No Trace skills. I had a really good time and felt like I was able to pass on some very valuable knowledge and stewardship values to the students. I also got to teach along side some of Wilderness Rangers and make a good impression. I haven't been doing a lot of recreating because I was sick and then I hurt my foot. But I found some Morel mushrooms out on the trail the other day and I am hoping to float the Lochsa before the water goes down.

Squash starts in my kitchen one week after planting

Squash starts 3 weeks after planting

Belgian Wit beer krausening

Ranger Rachel in her pickle suit teaching Wilderness Trail Skills

The 139 year old Doug Fir that we cut down to use to make the bridge

A diagram of the bridge we are about to build

Supervisor Steve and co-workers Craig and Portia move a log with block and tackle
Canting (making the surface flat) a sill for the bridge
Canted stringer

The location of our bridge with bank stabilizers

The first sill is set

The two stringers are on the two sills and need to be set

The decking is almost complete and the approach is being filled with crushed rock

The approach is complete and running boards and bull rails have been added

Rachel, Portia and Craig on the finished bridge

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