Building Bridges

  • August 16, 2010
  • Posted by Christie Propst

I didn’t know what to expect when I got dropped off in Montana with a few things and no place to live. I had recently sold my car to buy everything I thought I needed to work and practically live in the wilderness. What was I thinking accepting a job that involved me backpacking (of which I had no experience) in a state I had never been to (and was on the opposite side of the country)? After convincing my family that I would in fact not fall off a mountain or get eaten by a bear I realized that I didn’t quite know what I was getting into. After the first hitch of rain, cold, and unbelievably sore muscles I was certain that I had made a mistake. This wasn’t quite the experience I had in mind. I was miserable and cold and my crewmates felt the same way. We all stood around the fire we had managed to keep going in the rain and then running to our tents to sleep in way too many layers and wake up and put on the same pair of wet carhartts in the morning. Being from Texas I wasn’t used to the terrain or temperature, nor was I prepared. Luckily our crew leader, so brave and strong, somehow kept us going. Hitch number two was full of excitement. We had to hike in 7 miles and figure out how to cross a river waist deep, rapid, and freezing. Watching two of our pack animals get swept away, then our crew leader go downstream we all faced a dilemma. How do we get across safely? Well, we figured it out and after taking the rest of the day to dry out our tents, clothes, sleeping bags, and such we decided to call it a night. It has been two and a half months since we started and 15 miles of trail is now cut and cleared of hundred of downed trees, 3 puncheons have been built (why don’t they just call them bridges?), and 70 feet of turnpikes have been added to the trail. Our crew has had it’s ups and downs, surprises, and our fair share of cake. Delicious dutch oven cake. We finished the trail this past week and ended the hitch with a greoup slumber party under one big tarp. It poured rain that night and the crew found it fitting that we began and ended the project with rain, and then hail! We are all happy to be moving on… to dynamite! This has turned out to be more than just a job. It has been a welcome change, it has been challenging, and quite the adventure.


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