A Victory for Volunteers

Abby Propsom – Wilderness Ranger Intern

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota - Winona

Big Sand Lake

July 21-28

Clearwater National Forest

After only two days off, following the roughest hitch of our season, our crew (minus Jess who was sorely missed and was on a different hitch) was ready to go back into the wilderness with the help of twelve volunteers from the Sierra Club. We had people from all walks of life, of all professions, from teachers and doctors to students to self proclaimed “desk jockeys”, of all ages, from 18 to 74 and of all skill and experience level, some had never touched a saw or swung an ax.

We spent three days clearing the trail up to Blodgett Pass and in those three days, I saw some amazing changes. Not only were there huge changes in the trail, we were clearing and brushing, but there were great changes in the volunteers. They were really beginning to grasp what wilderness meant, how to use the tools, and they were just more and more excited everyday to get back to work.

The day we actually reached the pass was a big day for everyone. We were not only straddling a National Forest boundary but a state boundary and a time zone boundary as well. The views were spectacular and watching everyone’s jaws drop was equally as exciting.

Being in a group of sixteen rather than being in a work crew of five in the wilderness was a much different experience for me. There was less solitude than I’m used to but much more conversation and learning; not only on their end but on mine as well. I’m very proud of the work, mileage and positive attitudes that came out of Big Sand Lake this past week and I can’t wait to get back into the Selway for one final hitch!