Back to Back Hitches

  • July 03, 2018
  • Posted by Grace Spella

For our first outing as a crew we were able to do back-to-back hitches in central Idaho’s Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest. We explored the North Fork of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest through getting familiar with brush-sawing the area. This trail is mainly used for dirt-biking and is therefore an incredibly steep uphill climb from camp to our work area. We were working at an estimated 5,000 feet in altitude with incredible views of rolling seas of pine trees. The higher we went on this trail, more ponderosas appeared. We were fortunate to work with Peter, the trail technician for the Forest Service in the area. A knowledgeable teacher with humor and excitement, he welcomed us to the trail. Towards the end of one of our work days, we were greeted with a humbling thunderstorm that sent us down the mountain towards camp. A recent burn area, weak trees falling from the storm throughout the trail created opportunities for the crew to practice chain sawing the following days.

After finishing up at the North Fork, we headed to Gospel Hump Wilderness Area to meet Peter and his trail crew. A crew of 4, the experienced employees of the Forest Service were in high spirits and kept us entertained throughout our stay. We were thankful to arrive at camp to meet them after a tough hike in with decent gains in elevation along the way. The view was worth it. We were able to gaze to the Seven Devils Mountain Range during our work days. Land designated as Wilderness translates to not having motorized vehicles or tools used in the boundaries. Therefore, when there was a downed tree in the trail, we were able to practice crosscut sawing. These crosscut saws are over 100 years old and are no longer made, making the learning process even more nerve racking. Our Crew Leaders, Nick and Erika, were patient and encouraging and made it an exciting skill to learn. Otherwise, we mainly focused on retreading the trail and removing any hazardous rocks or obstacles. This exhausting 14 day hitch was sweetened by good company and beautiful natural areas. Next up on our to do list – take some time off, rest our bodies, and look forward to the next hitch.


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