image from the work site with native plants image from the work site with native plants

Gumbo and Pulaskis

  • June 28, 2018
  • Posted by Halle Smith

As expected, our hitch in the Salmon-Challis National Forest was nothing short of eventful. The first few days were dedicated to herbicide application training with the Forest Service, while the rest of our time was spent on Alderspring Ranch, run by our project partners Glenn and Caryl Elzinga. Alderspring is located on national forest land in the remote Pahsimeroi Valley, and is home to one of the largest grass-fed organic beef operations in the world. 

Our job was to kill spotted knapweed and houndstongue plants that threaten biodiversity on the Elzinga’s land. Because Alderspring is 100% organic, we manually removed these weeds rather than spraying them with herbicides, which meant we got to get our hands dirty and do a lot of Pulaski swinging. While swinging heavy tools and killing invasive weeds certainly makes one feel like they run the world, getting stuck in inches of mud on a remote Forest Service road does not. And yes, that’s exactly what happened to us one afternoon. After hours of relentless rain, the road we had taken our rig up to get to our worksite had turned into the colloquial term; “gumbo”. There’s no better way to describe it, and we had to leave our rig alone on that sad, muddy road for one night until it was dry enough to try again.

Sure enough, the roads dried out enough for us to get our beloved rig, J-Law, back down to camp. Let me remind you that the rain had not stopped for more than a few hours at a time, and while the roads may have been a tad drier, our boots and socks were completely soaked and stayed that way until…well, mine are actually still a little damp. We were certainly faced with some unpleasant circumstances this hitch, but in typical MCC fashion, we made the most out of the adversities and still managed to have fun, bond over mutually disgusting boots and socks, and get a lot of work done.

I wouldn’t have it any other way!


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