An intern's season comes to a close.....

Ethan Spoerry– Wilderness Ranger Intern

Luther College

Chaffin Creek

August 7-11


It is difficult to describe the bittersweet feeling of the last hitch of a season. There is excitement for what lies ahead in our schooling or careers, trepidations over having to leave such an amazing place, and hope that we will someday be able see the people and places we have come to care for and love throughout the internship, an internship which has been so much more than a summer job or a resume builder. Though we did receive a significant amount of training and instruction which was both necessary and helpful for our work, I believe the true value of our time spent with SBFC was not in the training. Rather, it has been the life altering experiences and connections that occurred as part of the work we did. Though every intern came from different backgrounds from across the country, we all leave bonded together over one commonality; Wilderness. It is difficult for me to say goodbye to such a wonderful and wild place in order to return home to a state that has not retained such magnificent and preserved places. However I know in my heart that I will not spend the totality of my life bereft of wilderness because of the impact it has had on me. I leave two quotes from Edward Abbey that meld with those who have been into the wilderness and found a piece of themselves in the process: “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit” and “Wilderness needs no defense, only more defenders”. As you progress through your life I hope that you will join those who proudly defend wilderness, both in practice and spirit.

Iowa Highschoolers discover Wilderness

Sam Freestone – Wilderness Ranger Intern

Iowa State University

Siah Lake

July 26-30

Nez Perce-Clearwater

I stood immersed in the beauty of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. My eyes scanned over the back of the Bitterroot Range, not capable of taking in all of its complexity. Dominating the front of my view was the treeless rocky top of Ranger Peak. Sitting out on the rocks in front of me was the reason I had come to the top. The new expansion of the IDAWA group, IDAWA2 as I call them (creative I know). IDAWA2 is the second county of Iowa high school students to start coming to the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness for their first trail work experience.

I was one of the IDAWA kids just four short years ago. For me, meeting the Wilderness for the first time was like a strong bucket of water splashed on my face. The water shocked me awake and cleared the haze from my eyes, a haze that was planted there by years of growing up in Iowa's agriculturally dominated landscape. Iowa, which was once was a prairie which reached farther than most could conceive, now is one of the most altered and abused topographies in America. If it were not for the efforts of my county naturalist and the IDAWA trip, I may very well still believe that was the way it is and always will be.

Now, leading the Volunteers with USFS Ranger Erika VanHavel, I had the opportunity to witness the change that 6 days in the backcountry can make. Erica and I guided some through their first chop of an axe and found on each of their faces the same uncontrollable grin spreading when chips of wood began to fly. Under the soft song of the crosscut saw, I have found, it is none too difficult to become complacent in your spiritual connection to the Wilderness. Long days of trail work and consuming huge meals (just to be calorie neutral) can leave little time for questions of great depth. Though we try, it can be difficult to articulate ourselves unless we have someone with which we can discuss. It is for that reason exactly that the IDAWA program is so vital. Who better to question every thought, reason, and idea than a dozen high school age kids? Their discourse intensifies throughout the week as they begin to discover their own need for the land surrounding.

All perched on the rocks in thought, I wondered what it was they had on their minds. The wind picked up and blew through my clothing, a welcome feeling on an otherwise scorching and sweaty day in July. With the wind came a veil of smoke that now enveloped the distant peaks, but no amount can block out the sudden sense of place gained when you reach a summit. We stayed on top of that unnamed peak for an hour before having to hike back towards the Siah Lake and camp. Though we couldn’t keep them in that place for very long, I know their time will be held in their thoughts and memories for many years to come. If you ever hike up to Siah Lake and the highest point on the ridge that surrounds it, know you are on ground hallowed by the newest family to the Selway-Bitterroot, a small bunch of high schoolers from Iowa.

Base Camp - Cabin Creek - 24 days

Gabriel Duff – Wilderness Ranger Intern

Appalachian State University

Cabin Creek Ranger Station, Big Creek Trail

June 13th-July 6th

Payette National Forest

Just A Month In The Wilderness… It’s Casual

            “So how exactly are we getting to this ranger station?”

            “You’re going to fly.”

On June 13th, my intern partner (Steve Mantani) and I stepped out onto the McCall Aviation runway. In front of us was a small plane. Within the hour we were in the air, flying over the most beautiful country I had ever seen. From the front passenger seat I could see the snow covered mountains and the snake-like Big Creek directly below me. After a half-hour flight, we banked around a valley and began our approach toward the Cabin Creek runway. The runway itself was much shorter and narrower than I had imagined, but our pilot skillfully landed our aircraft with plenty of room to spare. Steve and I exited the tiny aircraft; two Student Conservation Association (SCA) interns and a US Forest Service Ranger greeted us cheerfully. Within an hour of landing we were already heading out to work on the Big Creek trail towards the Middle Fork. Over the span of two hours I had gone from a small town in Idaho to the most secluded ranger station in the Payette National Forest. Steve and I based out of Cabin Creek for the following twenty-four days…

Each member of our crew carried three tools plus all the gear and food needed for ten days of hard work. The country along Big Creek trail is gorgeous. We worked all day, talked all evening, and slept soundly to the sound of rushing water all night. We sweat, we laughed, and we all quickly became forever friends. If someone were to ask me “what was it like being out there for a whole month?” I would simply tell them exactly this: there is no better way to build a relationship with friends, hone self-reliance, and gain a true appreciation for the wilderness. Wilderness is natural; wilderness is therapeutic for your soul. It isn’t easy being out of the rushing world for that long, but the reward is immeasurable. The experience is difficult to describe. From seeing bears, rattle snakes, snow in July, gorges with pictographs on rocks, and the ever strong flowing Big Creek… All of it has made me truly appreciate the meaning of the word “wild.”

On our final day at Cabin Creek, we gathered around the dinner table for our last meal together as a crew. Our US Forest Service Ranger, Kenny, cooked us the most delicious meal that I could have ever imagined in the backcountry. We played cards until the sun went down and we couldn’t see our cards anymore. True friends. Celebrating after clearing and maintaining the Big Creek trail (20 miles).

Hard work, good company, and the true wilderness experience have made this an unforgettable adventure…

“The mountains are calling and I must go” – John Muir

Everything Beautiful Ever

Kate Barrett – Wilderness Ranger Intern

University of Montana

Cabin Creek

July 26 – August 2

Salmon-Challis National Forest

This summer has been a cyclical one, three months built on good rhythms. For me, our hitches follow a predictable arc: day 1, when the packs are heavy, the week long, our bodies unbreakable; day 4, when the bear bag finally goes up without a fight; day 5, when every lake and stream starts to look like an appealing place to bathe; day 6, when the saw catches and the patience runs thin; day 7, when we come out and I’m quick to realize all I want is to go back in.

It’s giving me fits to think these rhythms are coming to an end—our next hitch will be short and then we’re finished. But let us not dwell.

Riley and I have spent the last three hitches working for the Middle Fork Ranger District out of Challis, Idaho. Many of the Middle Fork rangers have been on the forest for decades and they’ve been a joy to work with and learn from. They know the trails so intimately, it’s an inspiration. At this point in my life, in this line of work especially, it’s not often you find anyone who stays put for long. Everyone is out there bagging peaks, flying to Nepal or New Zealand, dirtbagging their way across hundreds of miles, collecting new places the way normal people collect furniture. And no one will say it aloud but one-upmanship is most certainly a motivator. Like, dude, you mean you haven’t summited Mount Whitney in a summer-time snowstorm at 4 in the morning? That’s too bad for you because, you know, I have and it was badass.

God knows I’ve participated in my share of chest-puffing. And sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat knowing someone somewhere is cliff-diving into an aquamarine pool in Southeast Asia and that person is not me. Quick, someone buy me a plane ticket; I need to lay eyes on EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL EVER.

The rangers in Challis do not sit still, but they do stay put. They know which creeks have jumped their beds and where to part the undergrowth for a trickle of spring water. They check on listing trees at bends in the trail, season after season, until the snow or wind or gravity and simple time bring them down. It’s such a relief to see—it turns out this is the pace I’ve always wanted to move. Slowly. Deeply. With great care.

And boy oh boy, do we move slow. The Salmon-Challis National Forest, and the whole of the Frank Church Wilderness, is spotted with burn areas, which means our summer has been heavy on the cross-cut duty. Sawing around 300 to 400 trees every hitch doesn’t leave much time for other projects. We’ve been averaging somewhere between a mile and a mile-and-a-half of clearing for every ten-hour workday. This last hitch, which we spent on the Cabin Creek and Crimson Lake Trails, was no exception. We clocked out at 327 trees and logged plenty of miles walking to and from camp every day. We stayed in the valley for the first three nights (followed by frosty mornings), but packed up and made the hefty climb to Crimson Lake on Sunday. All our lung-busting paid off, though, because the lake was clear and cold and rimmed with rocky peaks. It’s easily one of the most striking places we’ve had the privilege to work in this summer.

Clearing the trail up was a taxing job, but after work we got to play—skinny-dipping in the lake, some fly-fishing, sunset gazing, hot-drink sipping. I was sorry to leave. I’m in Missoula now, smelling good, ready for the cycle to start over, waiting to get back in the rhythm.

Marble Creek Remains: SBFC Returns

Kelly O'Neill - Frank Church Lead Wilderness Steward

Marble Creek Trail is a portion of the Idaho Centennial Trail that has been notoriously rugged and tricky to navigate in years past.  As it meanders along Marble Creek, the trail encounters numerous creek crossings and passes through miles of burned area.  In preparation for this year’s volunteer trip, I scoured resources for information on the trail condition, location, etc. I was answered with many unknowns and find-out-when-you-get-theres.  Thrilling! What I did know was that the trail head was quite remote—true. There would be no radio communication—very true. The condition of the road was poor—true, and worse for the horse trailer. The jury was completely out on the trail status and type of work to be done. Turns out 2016 SBFC did an excellent job and made our time on Marble Creek significantly smoother. 

            Last year SBFC ran two volunteer projects on Marble Creek.  During this time they cleared at least 6 miles of trail (maybe more?) and cleaned up a log jam that had been rendering the trail impassable for some users, and super hairy for others.  The work completed in 2016 allowed our group to, comparatively, waltz in 6 miles and work south from a far more convenient base camp.  We spent two days clearing fallen trees, and two days fixing rock wall and creek crossing blow-outs.  During our short time on the Marble Creek trail, we cleared to a point just shy of Buck Creek, and repaired some retaining walls that were separating from the slope and slipping away with the waters. 

            On the trip there were 6 volunteers, 2 SBFC interns, Sally for a few days, and Jesse Forest Service Ranger for a few other days.  Mr. John Binninger packed us in and out—it was a true treat to have him.  I owe many thanks to this list of people! Simply getting out to Marble Creek was tough work, but I continued to be impressed and humbled by the helpfulness and positivity of each person on the trip.  I had been rather anxious in the days leading up to the project – hoping for everything to go smoothly, eager to get plenty of good work done.  As it turned out all my fretting was for not, because the group of people I got to work with made my job breezy. Every volunteer was so willing to work hard!  Both interns, Steve and Gabe, were nonstop on point! Sally made food shopping ten times easier and was a very supportive presence! Jesse FS cleared our way to basecamp—road and trail! Jon and his string provided endless delight, lighter loads and great coffee! 

            So, if it is not clear by my overuse of the exclamation point, I am incredibly grateful to these folks.  I could not be more pleased with the work we accomplished.  Perhaps Marble Creek is becoming a bit of a legacy for SBFC. It is a beautiful slice of wilderness, and a prominent example of why we do what we do.

Some Memorable Miles on the Blodgett Trip

Matthew Hutchins – Wilderness Ranger Intern  

Christopher Newport University


July 13-17

Bitterroot National Forest

This Blodgett trip was full of twists and turns in the road and on the trail. I showed up the morning of the first day ready and excited to get back to work after a few days off. The trip started on Thursday the 13th and was scheduled to last until Wednesday the 19th. The six volunteers arrived with all their gear, I introduced myself to each of them and got a feel for the each individual’s level of backcountry experience.  We had some people who had years of trail work experience, and others who had never backpacked before. The varied experience levels made the whole trip so much more exciting.  Each volunteer required different training and instruction which was both the challenge and the opportunity.  I left my stuff for the packers to carry into our camp and hiked in front of the group and packers with Adam Washebek, USFS to make sure that no trees were going to block the stock from making it to camp.

Camp was seven miles out and the hike was a “walk in the park” because the mules were packing the food, and for that I will be forever grateful.  We got to camp on the first day about an hour before the packers and an hour and a half before the rest of the group. We set up camp once everyone was there and did a little bit of clearing trail that day.  Day two was going to be the day we tried clearing to the lake, much to our surprise by the afternoon we were at the lake having cleared only 12 trees total. Adam had taken a group up the pass along the trail and Ethan (the other Intern) and I took the rest of the group to Blodgett Lake. The lake was welcomed sight, plus it was an easy hike in.  Because there was not much work to be done around the lake it meant we had to change our plans for the rest of the trip.  We were scheduled for one more day with volunteers and three more days for just Ethan and myself.

Once we had gotten back to camp we ate a good meal and planned Saturday’s project. Saturday morning Ethan woke up with only one hour of sleep due to migraines and wasn’t going to be able to work that day. One of the volunteers also woke up with severe blisters on his feet, to the point where is feet were almost raw; he was out for the day. Consequently, we were down two men but we decided to clear a bit of the lake trail a mile from our camp off the Blodgett trail. We knew we wouldn’t be hiking much because we knew the trail was a mess from last year’s intense storms. Once we arrived, our predictions were correct.  About .1 miles into the trail there was a pick-up-stick pile of 30 trees all intertwined with one another.  We couldn’t even find the trail so we cut the least number of trees to reconnect the trail.  We made about 50 cuts that day and were nearing the end of our work day when our trajectory abruptly changed.

One of the volunteers tripped and injured both of her ankles to the point she was unable to walk and was in a lot of pain. I knew exactly what to do because of my Wilderness First Responder training at the beginning of the season, and quickly went back to camp to grab a few “medical” supplies.  While back at camp we asked Ethan, who had been catching up on sleep all day, if he could help with the volunteer.  We went back to her location and taped her ankles.  She was unable to put any pressure on her left ankle and could barely put pressure on her right. Adam and I had planned to get her back to camp on our shoulders.  From camp she could ride out on horseback the following day.  We started to help her down the trail and quickly realized that our plan to transport her would take an estimated three very painful hours. Ethan who is 6’6’’, 315 pounds and a college football player offered to carry her on his back. WHAT A HERO! We all were very grateful for Ethan’s brawn and people-pack ability.  He turned a three hour, very painful, trip into only 40 minutes. 

The saga continued……………….

The next morning, a few hours before the horse was to take our patient down the trail, she surmised that putting her feet in stirrups would be too painful for her injured, more tender and now swollen ankles.  The only other option was a helicopter. Adam quickly got on the radio and called in a helicopter from a nearby location to pick her up in the meadow right next to our camp. The patient was relieved. Thirty minutes later a helicopter landed in the meadow picking her up and taking her safely into town.  Our local Forest Service contact then transported her to the ER for treatment and release.   It was a once in a lifetime experience for me to see a backcountry helicopter rescue in action.  The crew was swift and efficient.

Later that day, the pack string arrived and the volunteers hiked out. Ethan and I had to finish up some paper work down the trail looking at campsites. The next day we cut more tree at High Lake only making a small dent in the trail.  We hiked out Monday night, a few days before we had planned, but that’s the way trail work works. You never know what you are going to get, but this trip I will remember.

Teamwork and Dedication - Recipe for Success

Steven Mantini – Wilderness Ranger Intern

Michigan Tech

Marble Creek

July 11-16

Payette National Forest

As a Wilderness Ranger Intern I have adapted to the physical and mental stresses, while enjoying the incredible rewards, which accompany heavy trail maintenance and isolation in the Frank Church. However, this hitch on the Marble Creek Trail presented a host of new challenges and even more rewarding experiences as we worked side by side with a group of volunteers. Instead of being solely responsible for myself; Kelly, Gabe, and I were now responsible for 7 volunteers. The exchange is simple, we take care of the logistics, shared equipment, meals, and work planning, while our volunteers dedicate a week of their free time to help us clear and improve the trail. It is a tremendous commitment on behalf of both parties. Before we even arrived at the trailhead, we spent hours planning meals, food shopping, prepping equipment, and stressing about all the variables that working in the wilderness presents. The volunteers drive themselves hours up dirt roads, commit to the intense, physical work of trail maintenance, and do it all on their days off from work, while they could be laying in a hammock enjoying a cold beverage.

Once we met up with these dedicated volunteers and made the 2-hour drive to the trailhead, I began to feed off of their tremendous positivity and dedication. Throughout the week they dealt with mosquitoes, horseflies, over 30 creek crossings, and countless other challenges. Not only did they handle the challenges in stride, they were able to accomplish a tremendous amount of work as well. I was impressed with their ability to read the complicated binds of fallen logs and help us cross cut saw safely and efficiently. Once we all got into a rhythm, my worries faded away and I was able to enjoy the great company. We were a diverse group with a wide range of ages and backgrounds, yet we bonded quickly over our love of the great outdoors.

Their appreciation for everything wilderness helped me to slow down and remind myself of all the reasons why I love this work. My office includes majestic sunsets, the endless music of songbirds and creeks, epic stargazing, and sometimes more importantly, the opportunity to bond with others in the absence of modern distractions and comforts.

Thank you to all of the volunteers for your amazing work, to Jon Binninger for packing all our food and tools and bringing us a surprise resupply which included his fantastic organic, fair-trade coffee. Purchase it here and support SBFC!, and to Jesse and Josh from the US Forest Service for clearing the road to the trailhead, giving us tips and tricks for efficient trail work, and partnering with us in everything that we do in the field.

Finding Myself on Stanley Butte

Heather Morris – Wilderness Ranger Intern

State University of New York

Seven Lakes Hitch

July 11-16

Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest

Coming from New Jersey I had no idea what to expect stepping off the plane in the “new world” that was Montana. I was nervous and excited for our upcoming training, meeting new people, and for the first time ever: backpacking. I honestly considered turning around a few times and going home and even wishing I had turned down this position. Overall, I am incredibly thankful I didn't. This past hitch was one of the most amazing times I've had this summer and probably going to be one of my favorite life experiences. 
This past hitch started out like any other– Silas and Will showing up at Powell to pick us up. We loaded up and headed out to drop some food off to get packed in later at Lochsa Historical Ranger Station. In a move typical of us, we realized we forgot a crosscut and some campsite inventory forms and had to turn around and go back to Powell. We finally arrived at our trailhead and headed up trail 220. This trail could be considered someone's own personal hell. The only words to describe this 4-mile stretch is up, up, and up. We finally arrived at our campsite, aka Cedar camp. Exhausted and thirsty we then proceeded to hand pump water for 30 minutes from a small trickling spring. The dinner pot was classically full to the brim and we were stuffed. Sleeping in our tents that night we got to hear the disturbingly eerie sound of a distressed elk right next to our tent and a few coyotes in the distance. Next day we decided to take a “nice stroll” and clear Huckleberry Butte. Up and up we went to the top and down, down, down we went till we finally cashed tools. Then it was the day to bump camp to the land of water; Lottie Lake. Up and down we went again until we got to Lottie lake campsite or Mosquito camp 2.0. The next few days following this trek was more of up and down hikes on ridges doing campsite monitoring and clearing trails. 
There was one day that really stuck with me this trip ( besides the almost painful 10 mile in 5 hours with heavy packs all the way down 2210 and boulder creek) was the day of water sampling. Forest Ranger Erika VanHavel (Treadnado) and I, started out on an 11 mile day up over one ridge to see a few alpine lakes then up again to Stanley Butte. We were about 7,000 ft up looking out on a 360 degree panorama view that included Shasta lake, the Crags, Rhoda point covered in smoke, and surrounding peaks. It was incredible. The hike up included really nice trail work, scenic views the entire time, and blooming alpine flowers. Standing up there is when I finally realized that even though the up makes you want to throw up and the down feels like your knees are screaming, I love being out here. I love feeling myself getting stronger and getting used to the pack. Since I compete in woodsman sports back in college I am now able to understand how woodsmen really originated and what it used to be. This has given me such a different view on the sport. Everything about backpacking is so rewarding. Some fond memories include laughing with Erika about failed elk bugle sounds, riding a horse around camp, bringing a scientific vessel (Walmart floaty) to do water sampling, Even the not so fond memories are worth it that included getting bitten by clouds of mosquitos and all the other “not shown on tumblr” events which are rewarded by great laughs and memories and beautiful sceneries all around. The fresh air, the beautiful views, and the being able to find yourself through the challenges is worth every minute of pain. This hitch is so hard to put in words but this was one of the best experiences I've ever had and challenged myself to do.

"This hitch is so hard to put in words but this was one of the best experiences I've ever had and challenged myself to do."

"This hitch is so hard to put in words but this was one of the best experiences I've ever had and challenged myself to do."

Colt-Killed Creek - Best Views, Rough Work

Silas Phillips – Wilderness Ranger Intern

University of Montana

Colt-Killed Creek

June 13-18

Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest

Colt-Killed Creek! A drainage whose name reflects a place so inhospitable, Lewis and Clark had to kill a baby horse to survive there. Thankfully our SBFC intern crew found this locale far more nurturing than those who came before us. Last year the 6 mile access road to the trailhead was washed out, effectively preventing admission for trail crews and recreators alike. This situation was compounded by a fire in 2012, leaving us a trail ripe with charred and fallen timber. For 8 days we did what wilderness professionals do best– running crosscuts until we passed out. 

Our cohort of 5 has been paired with a wilderness ranger by the name of Erica. During our tenure at Colt-Killed she blessed us with the presence of her 11 year old golden retriever, Andy. Having a dog on hitch is a constant morale boost. Though every day brought beating sun and hellish swarms of skeets and no-seeums, this creature maintained the disposition of a rainbow gumdrop. Getting some love from Andy at the end of a 10 hour, half mile day of cutting curbed the majority of any ailments we had. 

It was a privilege to experience the landscape that this trail winds through. Fire scarred areas are often considered in a negative light by outdoors people, but we found this vast burnt drainage to be increasingly gorgeous. Vistas once impeded by foliage were completely accessible to the gaze. The river valleys and rocky hillsides characteristic of the Selway revealed themselves openly. The drainage turns east toward the Bitterroot mountains, and their granite peaks grew as we slowly worked our way towards them each day. Sky Pilot Peak was the dominant feature rising above us at the end of the week– our perspective of it always bisected by burnt snags. 

The Powell interns found a sense of fulfillment during this week of hard cutting. It's the most tangible form of trail work in my mind– our contribution to the wilderness immediately recognizable and beneficial. Additionally, our crosscut saw skill set is completely dialed in, and probably was after the third day of heavy cutting. We didn't (and really couldn't) finish clearing the entirety of trail 50 on this hitch, but we paved the way for future pushes up Colt-Killed Creek later this summer.

First Hitch in the Bitterroot proves Bittersweet

Matthew Hutchins – Wilderness Ranger Intern

Christopher Newport University

Rock Creek & Little Rock Creek, Kootenai Creek, Sheafman Creek

June 13-18

Bitterroot National Forest

Our adventure to the Bitterroot Mountains was full of surprises for me and SBFC Intern, Ethan Spoerry. We started our first three days on Little Rock Creek Trail, which was a stunning walk into the woods above Lake Como. It was the beginning of a long summer full of hard and dirty work. I had been well prepared by my training, and I was ready to get to work. The first day came and went having done a few miles of trail clearing. The first night we camped less than a mile from the lake, our spirits were high from our first day on the job. The next day we cleared all the way to the lake and spent most of the day campsite monitoring as well enjoying the stunning lake in the mountains. The final day we spent clearing a few more miles of trail and began to get a better handle on the axe, crosscut, and silky.

After a welcomed night in a warm bed, we set out for another mini trip on Kootenai Creek trail hoping to spend the last five days of this hitch clearing the trail to the lake. That plan quickly changed as the weather got progressively worse as the day when on. What started out as a sprinkle, ended as a deluge. We had only hiked about 5 miles in the rain clearing only 15 trees.   Our spirits were tested due to most of our stuff getting soaked. I began to question the reason I had come out here and how willing I was to deal with the rain and pain. The morning did not bring much hope as we packed our wet gear in the rain and set out for the lakes. The weather started to clear up a bit but we soon encountered a stream with unseasonably high flows, too dangerous to pass. For a couple of tense minutes we debated about attempting to cross the stream, but finally decided to not take the risk.  We turned around and hiked the long 6 miles out, frustrated that we had only cleared a few trees along our way.

Another night in our bed did not seem deserved, but we made a plan for Sheafman trail for the next day. We started in the morning facing a large log not far from the trail head, a foreshadowing of the day ahead. We hiked only about 2 miles the whole day clearing 80 trees. This day was one of the best, we felt great the whole time and felt as though our work was making a dent in the trail. The second day was a bit tougher; we reached the lake but not after many sore muscles and many bumps and scratches on our bodies. My bones were beginning to feel all the work that we had been doing the past week.  That night we camped at what seemed to be the only two spots that weren’t covered in snow. The next morning we woke to beautiful weather and soon learned that we had not camped at the lake, but camped at the Sheafman Lake overflow. We decided to try and find the second lake by hiking 500 feet up in less than ¾ of a mile with much success.  Most of the trail was under snow and impossible to find, we made our way to one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen, Knack Lake, a powerful sight.  We took some pictures but campsite monitoring was impossible due to snow still covering the ground.  We turned around and headed down the trail. After clearing another 30 some trees on the way back, we ended our first hitch in our favorite burrito shop in town just trying to refill our belly with fresh, tasty food.  The feast was well earned after a difficult but wonderful beginning of our summer.