July 2-July 10: Big Baldy Ridge of No Return


On July 2nd, Janine and I set out from the Challis area and headed to Cascade to meet up with program director Eric Melson and trail crewmember Jeff Allred. After checking in with the Forest Service and jamming all the gear into Goldee, our trusty rig, we headed towards the trailhead of Big Baldy Ridge Trail #227. The goal of the hitch was to cut-and-run the trail from Pistol Rock to Buck Lake.

The afternoon and following morning consisted of hiking to our first camp at the base of Pistol Rock. After settling in, we were able to break out the crosscut saws, and began to clear the trail. As we slowly progressed along the trail over the next couple days, we jumped from burn areas to green, observing charred north-facing slopes while south-facing slopes were a lush green spotted with a variety of wildflowers.

On July 6th we pushed camp to Buck Lake. After completing the 9-mile ridge hike and a search for switchbacks hidden by a snow cornice leading down, we were rewarded with a clear mountain lake. That afternoon, Janine and I experienced the inventorying of a heavy-use camp: cleaning and minimizing the campfire and distinguishing the level of use. After a late afternoon swim for all of us, Eric taught me how to gut a fish and he fried up rainbow and brook trout that he had caught in the lake.

The 7th was a long day, clearing nearly half the trail, but we were able to connect our work and the trail from Pistol Rock to Buck Lake is now passable! The following day we completed more campsite inventories at the lake, and sadly, the expectation of lighter packs on the hike out was inaccurate. The LNT (Leave No Trees) crew hiked out over 30lbs of trash from Buck Lake! After returning nine miles to Pistol Rock to camp for our final night, the group was exhausted and settled on the ridge for a bit to discuss wilderness stewardship in the grand scheme of things (while also avoiding the bugs at the campsite below).

On the 9th we hiked out from Pistol Rock, finishing a challenging, rewarding, and entertaining hitch. Eric, Jeff, Janine, and I cleared more than 600 trees from the Big Baldy Ridge Trail and hiked more than 250 miles together in 8 days!

     — Katie Currier, Wilderness Ranger Intern | July 11, 2013