Spotted Bear Fuels Reduction

  • October 03, 2016
  • Posted by Lukas Savage

We showed up to Spotted Bear with our bodies feeling strong and limber. After getting all of our gear ready for the packer to load up on her pack mules we started our five mile hike up to Horse Ridge. With spirits and morale high we reached our destination on a warm sunny day. Our project sponsor showed us our work site — a 160 acre meadow at the top of the mountain. The mission was to dig fire line around the entire thing. The meadow, along with three others, was planned to be burnt in order to save the elk habitat. Due to 60-plus years of controlling wildfires, the meadows were becoming overgrown with trees and shrubbery that were endangering the elk habitat. After scoping out our work site we made camp and prepared our selves for a long cold night.

Our days started at six in the morning waking up to ice covering the inside of our tents. Our days were filled with digging down the side of a frozen rock covered mountain. Everyday we dug until with thought we couldn’t dig anymore… and then we dug some more. After eight hours of back busting work in the freezing rain we hiked an hour back up the mountain to our camp to eat dinners of spaghetti, rice and beans, and other “one pot meals”.

After a few days our backs were knotted and cramped, our hands were numb, and our feet were soaked. But through sheer determination we kept on digging. Despite the odds of only having a three man crew, we managed to dig a mile of fire line by the end of the ten days. We worked like animals and it paid off.

On the tenth day we looked back at our progress and were proud of all the blood, sweat, and tears that we poured into our work. We broke camp and prepared our beaten bodies to hike back down the mountain.

We were tired, and maybe even a little crazy, but we couldn’t be happier with what we had accomplished.  We built long lasting friendships on that mountain and had each others backs the whole time. We didn’t let each others morals drop, and we laughed with each other as we seemed to slowly lose our minds. It was the experience of a lifetime that none of us will forget. We started our descent off the mountain with pride in our hears as we screamed our battle cry, “For the elk!”


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