- October 02, 2017
- Posted by Noah Blanton
After two weeks of orientation, training, and preparing for the first hitch of the Fall season, the time had come for our crew to graduate from recent recruit, to Crew Member for the Montana Conservation Corps. This wouldn’t be the first hitch for our seasoned Crew leaders, Rikki and Dylan. They are both experienced civil servants and enthusiastic leaders, who were both ready to embark on a new adventure with a new crew. This first hitch would be the first of many hitches for the rest of the crew, and we were all excited to serve the National Parks and Forests that we all cherish.
Our mission - to remodel the Swiftcurrent Lake Trail in East Glacier National Park into an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) approved trail, one that would provide accessibility for people who also wish to experience the serenity of Glacier National Park. Little did we know how fruitful, yet tiresome, this first hitch would be. The project was funded by the Glacier National Park Conservancy, a private non-profit organization whose overall mission is to support different projects and events in the park by “providing support for preservation, education, and research through philanthropy and outreach.” Through the guidance and assistance of our project leader Brian, we were able to remodel over 900 ft of the Swift Current Lake trail into a handicap accessible trail.
For the first ten days of our hitch in Many Glacier, our crew was exposed to the generosity and appreciation of passersby who happened along the trail. The warm and kind remarks of the intrepid travelers of the trail offered nothing but gratitude to our crew, and boosted the energy and productivity of our crew to a level that seemingly impressed our crew leaders and project partners. Folks would say things such as “thank you so much for the work that you guys do on these trails”, and “Wow, I never thought this much work went into maintaining these trails for the public. I have a newfound appreciation of the trails!” All of these benevolent words fueled our passion to serve the MCC and the people that work on these trails tremendously.
After our 8 hour days along the trail beneath Grinnell Peak, our crew would opt to go out on afterwork hikes to explore the surrounding areas. During our first ten days in Many Glacier, we saw more diverse wildlife in this short period of time than most of our crew had seen in their lifetimes. The first spectacular meeting with the wildlife in Many Glacier was during our entrance to the park. Not even five minutes after passing through the NPS gates, we drove past a juvenile black bear. The entire crew bubbled with excitement at the sight! This would not be the last encounter with black bears during our first stay, for we had two close encounters with a Mother Black Bear and her cub. One during the early hours of the day, and the other following the walk back from dinner. We were within twenty feet of these cubs and their mothers, but our crew leaders handled the situations calmly and with the professionalism and risk management that the MCC instills in its members. What an unforgettable experience!
We would even stumble along the trail coming from Red Rock Falls right into a Mama Moose and her calf. The calmness and serenity of the moment will never be forgotten by our crew! All of these awesome encounters with nature and the humans that crossed our paths motivated our crew to continue to work hard, persevere, and have a great time serving the trails in Glacier National Park!
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