Things are Looking Up!

Nolan McNamara

Maryville College (TN)

Storm Creek

June 26 – July 3

Nez Perce-Clearwater NF/Selway-Bitterroot

Our second hitch on the Storm Creek loop was another success thanks to the leadership of our awesome crew leader Will and the grit of my crewmates. After our time off everyone was excited to get back out into the backcountry and back to work together. The weather was on our side most of this hitch with only a slight bit of rain, which definitely helped our progress and morale. We base camped at the junction of trails 77 and 99 for the first few nights. The most difficult day was Day 3 when we cut through an old burn area that burned in 2012. We cut over 250 trees in less than half of a mile, but we kept plugging away and made it to the creek crossing before returning to camp that evening. The following two days we worked up towards Siah Lake. This was the first alpine lake I had ever seen, and words cannot justify the purity and power of this landscape.

The views surrounding Siah Lake, snow-capped peaks and glistening lake water, made it a little bit easier to crawl out of our toasty sleeping bags in the mornings to start work in the stinging cold wind.  At the end of Day 6 we took full advantage of the lake when the sun was beating down over the crystal-clear water. James was able to practice his fishing, Will took a quick swim, and I did some sunbathing on a fallen log that extended over the water.  This relaxing break offered some much-needed meditation time as some personalities began to naturally clash after a week of working and living in close quarters.

I am extremely grateful for the patience and understanding the crew continues to show each other, even on some of our hardest days. Despite our occasional quarrel there are no other individuals with which I would rather face the trials of the elements.

As we jokingly reminded each other towards the end of the hitch when it seemed mother nature was kicking us while we were down, “Things are looking up!”