A Sensuous Wilderness as Autumn Draws Near

Will Thelen - Trail Crew Member

Hitch #7 - Sept 3-10

Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest

Like most of our hitches this season, our seventh hitch in the Selway began with an early drive down the Elk Summit road to the Hoodoo Lake trailhead. As we performed our morning stretches in the parking lot we were approached by a man and his dog. He was very interested in what we’d be working on and told us how excited he was to meet a real trail crew. What a delightful surprise to begin our trip with such positive affirmations from a curious traveler. It isn’t often we run into the public around these parts!

We spent the rest of our first day hiking down trails 486 and 421 to a scenic campsite along East Moose Creek. The smoke from the Monument Fire was very apparent. It filled the East Moose Creek drainage and we gulped down our last breaths of clear air as we descended trail 486.

Our primary objectives for this hitch were to finish clearing trail 442 and to continue trying to open up the Battle Creek Ridge trail (#432). All of Wednesday was spent clearing the 421 between Elbow Bend and the junction with 442. We were able to clear the 442 by the end of the day on Friday. This was surprising to all of us since it had been such a struggle to clear this trail last year. The smoke was the worst over the course of these three days, but heavy rain on Friday night weakened the fire and put the smoke at bay for the remainder of the hitch.

The rest of our time was devoted to clearing Battle Creek Ridge. Besides the first half-mile just after crossing East Moose Creek the trail was very easy to follow and the blowdown was moderate. This was another nice surprise since we had failed to even reach this trail via trail 462 on our fifth hitch (see Trevor’s September 3rd blog post). While the work was satisfying and relatively easy over these last few days, the rain really soaked us on Sunday afternoon!

Despite some smoke and rainy conditions, it was a good second-to-last hitch for the trail team. The lack of mosquitos, numerous seed pods stuck to our pants, low afternoon sun, and crisp mornings definitely signaled the end of summer. Yet again, it’s that time of year when we begin to feel a bit nostalgic for the trail season and start thinking about our winter plans. One more hitch left!


Work Stats: Cleared 256 small trees, 96 medium trees, 9 large trees, brushed 200 feet, cleaned 24 drains, constructed 1 drain, performed 330 feet of retread