Our third hitch was three hours away in our sister state of Idaho. In the Clearwater National Forest, our project partner, Tim, explained we would be cleaning up a trail and widening the corridor for two miles towards Fish Lake.  The trail had been closed to cars and is now used by hikers, bikers, horses and ATVs. As we headed down the trailhead to get lined out, Tim’s gloved hand glided on top of the overgrowth as we walked down the path, perhaps not consciously but because the trail obviously needed some brushing.

This was our first hitch using brush saws and pole saws. We also used chainsaws to clear out the big stuff before getting everything else out of the way. Unfortunately, both of our pole saws broke towards the beginning of our hitch. We took out some bow saws to get the limbs we could reach.  This would be the first of many obstacles we would encounter. Most of our power tools broke at some point, minus one chainsaw. The brush saw was a fun new experience, as I have hardly even weed whacked previously. A less fun, new experience was the gnats that bit us all over our bodies. I have never been around biting gnats before.  Everybody was getting more comfortable and faster at using the tools.

I already loved my Danner’s but I was even more appreciative of my boots this hitch: it rained seven out of nine days, and my feet were the only thing that stayed dry (shout out to Nikwax as well). Our raingear helped but many of us learned we might need to do some re-waterproofing. I took a few moments to appreciate the beauty of my surroundings, and the small things such as a crew member being helpful or having a kind thing to say. I also noticed the literally small things: there were really pretty moths and butterflies and flowers everywhere.  My crew mates and I worked together, taking out branches and dragging logs over the side of the embankment. As I watched an ant drag a centipede over muddy leaves, I felt I could relate to his struggle.

The rain was relentless and we were perpetually soaked, but it only slightly dampened our spirits. On the seventh day, our crew leaders treated us with a trip to Superior, Montana. The folks at the Hilltop Motel were super nice and let us dry our clothing even though their laundromat was closed that day. We also enjoyed a group dinner in a local restaurant. For the next and last day, we finished hitch warm and dry, happy to be going home to Montana.


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