- August 16, 2018
- Posted by Alex LeFrancois
“This is going to be an interesting landing.”
These are not the words one wants to hear from a bush pilot as your flying full speed in a small Cessna airplane towards a makeshift landing strip in the backcountry within the Payette National Forest. With all the panache and grace that only a blonde Norwegian god of a bush pilot could muster, Thor handily maneuvered the aircraft safely down to the landing strip near the Cabin Creek Ranger Station in the Krassel Ranger District of the Payette National Forest.This flight, being our crews first of the season, was a taste of the adventure of what it means to be the backcountry Wilderness Restoration Team, a.k.a. Invasive Strike Team Rubicon Squadron Alpha, for the Western Wildlands region of MCC. And this was just the beginning.
Upon landing at Cabin Creek, we were introduced to the wilderness ranger, Mitch, and began the process of setting up camp and getting settled in. The area surrounding the Cabin Creek Ranger Station is one of the more beautiful places our crew had the pleasure of staying at during our season. Mountains of various sizes dotted the horizon and surrounded us on all sides. Lush meadows and alluring rivers were within easy access of our campsite. On top of that, our mission was that of vital importance; protect this stunning landscape from the pervasive infestation of Canadian Thistle.
An ugly and angry weed, Canadian Thistle has the unfortunate trait of liking to hide and camouflage itself within high grass, which can often, as we came to find out through wet boots, can overlap with marshy terrain. Nevertheless, with the zest and fury that could only be mustered from our fearless leader, Ryan “The Spurge” Robertson, our crew headed into the unknown to eliminate this formidable foe. Clad in our full battle attire and armed with our trusty sprayer packs, we headed out to complete this mission. The “Apocalypse Now” theme song echoed in our brains as we completed grid after grid to root out the plague that had infiltrated this pristine area.
Despite the high intensity of our mission, we were able to take some time to enjoy the area as well. Mitch gave us an insider tip to head down to Big Creek. Situated in a valley of green, surrounded by mountains, the area is oddly similar to what one might imagine the Garden of Eden looking like. At certain moments, when the sun strikes the rocky mountains around the valley at just the right time, one feels in another world. Although close to the Canadian Thistle war zone, your mind is able to drift away from the calculated chaos of the work day. One look around the Big Creek area and the realization of why you signed up for MCC hits you and keeps you motivated to complete the mission. Cabin Creek stole our hearts and for good reason.
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