- July 07, 2017
- Posted by Clay Stephens
These last two weeks, MCC Crew 6 spent their hitches at the Missouri River Breaks Monument outside of Winifred, Montana. Our first week was spent at the Lower Wood Hawk Campground, where some of us immediately saw our first bull snake slithering through the tall grass. The next morning and each day after we were picked up by members of the Bureau of Land Management in river boats and escorted to the worksite a few miles up the river. Commuting in this way was a treat and my favorite aspect of the job. We saw beautiful landscapes, beavers, bald eagles, bighorn sheep, and the river itself as the brisk air blew our hair back and carried our voices away.
The project was a standard barb wire fence. We were all enthusiastically digging holes to construct H-braces with a hand-held power augur and spud bars. Thanks to the dry heat the ground was very hard and full of clay in many spots. Once the braces were complete and secured we spent a few hours in two teams pounding t-posts at 20 foot intervals for almost two miles. This was the last day of our first week.
Our second week was much more difficult than the first. Boating to work was no longer an option, so we had to hike to the same worksite as before and set up camp in the scarce shade. The trek was short but difficult, mostly down a very steep cliff side carrying our packs filled with personal gear and food, but the rest at the end of the day was all the more rewarding thanks to our struggle.
Work was over relatively early, we ran barbed wire along the already erected posts, tightened and clipped, and the fruits of our labor were made visible. Seeing a new fence stretching two miles where there previously was only sage brush and cacti brought me great satisfaction. The day after completing the fence we had to hike back up the side of a cliff. Thankfully, our friend Matt from the BLM had stopped by to drop off more wire and he was nice enough to boat our packs to the next campsite. We returned to Lower Wood Hawk and spent some time riverside, wading in the cool water after sweating in the hot sunshine all day.
On our final day we met with two more BLM members, John and Kim, who took us to an old homestead nearby. They shared the old cabin’s history with us, including a story about a group of river pirates who tried to rob the homesteader in the late 1800’s. We had the pleasure of cleaning the cabin inside and spraying linseed oil on the outside. By the time we were finished, the 102 year old cabin looked almost as though one could live in it again. With all of the work completed, we departed on our five hour drive home, feeling satisfied and stinking to high heaven.
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