Hitch #4 Blog Post by Calle Ries - SBFC Wilderness Ranger Intern
As we first approached the trailhead of the Swamp Creek Trail 22, we had no idea what was in store for us. It was just the four of us; Jesse, our trail crew leader, Mark, one of the ranger interns, Kelley, our ambitious volunteer who was coming out on hitch with us, and myself. When we first saw the beginning of the trail we knew that we were going to be cutting a lot of trees, but we couldn’t guess just how many there would be.
During our six days of clearing Trail 22, we covered 2 miles and cut out around 900 trees from the trail. It was slow going the first few days, and we could hardly walk for 30 steps before we approached the next jumble of trees. On the bright side, at the end of the day when we walked back through the trail we had just cleared, it was a shocking difference to see how nice of a trail it was. There was a certain sense of accomplishment felt when we could enjoy the trail we had put our blood, sweat, and tears into clearing, and, in my opinion, that’s one of the most rewarding feelings.
On the third day of the hitch, we saw a fire start up that was only on the other side of the ridge right next to us. We saw the smoke plume get bigger as the days went on, and by the last day the entire sky was filled with smoke. We were never in danger from the fire, but for me, I felt a sense of awe at being so close to this wildfire. It turned the sun a strange orange hue, and it was as if we were in a perpetual golden hour, or some kind of apocalyptic world. Luckily, between the smoke and the heat, the insects were mostly kept at bay besides some flies that pestered us a good while. The fire definitely added an interesting element, and it made my experience richer and just that much wilder.
All in all, it was a fantastic hitch and we put in a lot of good work. Our volunteer Kelley was a hard worker and helped us get to our lofty total tree count. Kelley made the hitch that much more enjoyable! I hope that whoever goes out on that trail next is able to enjoy the scenery and the wildflowers as much as I did, with a clear trail hike on.