Conservation Corps – In the Field: Week 6.5

During Week 6, the Rawah Crew completed an eight-day hitch. The second half of that hitch is reported below:

Friday  morning started with a warm, delicious breakfast and hot coffee prepared by Zoe’s gracious parents in the early morning. After being filled with laughter, smiles, and good company we were ready to tackle the second part of our eight day hitch.

A group of people posing for a photo.

We were met by Geoff at the Fish Creek trailhead with high stoke as we prepared to hike eight miles to find a base camp. We were excited to explore this area of the Comanche Wilderness as this was everyone’s first time there. A man carrying a backpack on a trail.The trail started fairly steep on dry, rocky terrain overlooking snowy white peaks as it transitioned to a thick Lodgepole forest to a swamp to a meadow of magnificent Indian paintbrushes and Columbines. This area is breathtaking to say the least. After setting up base camp nestled within an Aspen and Pine forest (we found a (relatively) flat spot between two marshy meadows). After camp was set up, our bellies were once again filled with a delicious dinner of potato, pepper, avocado, and quinoa burritos courtesy of Miles. In hopes that bears would not also enjoy our food, we attempted a bear hang…for two hours. We were finally able to solve the dilemma and collapsed in our tents after a long day.A group of hikers on a trail in a grassy area.

A meadow with wildflowers and mountains in the background.

A group of hikers on a trail.

Saturday began with wet feet but high stoke to explore an exciting area! We decided to split crews based on peanut butter preference (crunchy or creamy). Creamy crew took the western side of Flowers trail by storm, digging huge drains and reconstructing ancient rock bars. With two crew members on each drain, the projects were as thorough as the conversations were enjoyable!

Crunchy crew dug new drains and repaired heavily channeled tread through a lovely hillside prairie. The unique terrain made for interesting work! Being the first Saturday we’d ever worked, their trail was one of the busiest we’ve worked on. It was amazing to talk to curious hikers about the Conservancy and the work we do!

However, the day was tough. A combination of heat and humidity on our sixth consecutive day of work contributed to low spirits and morale. It was decided to reconvene before the end of the work day to hold a group discussion to remind us of our team and individual missions and motivations. It was easily one of the most impactful moments of the summer, and we left our circle with full stoke tanks and clear minds! Amelia cooked a scrumptious pesto dinner that was quickly devoured. A group of people sitting on a log.Sunday also started wet but high spirits warmed us from within! The crew split up again to tackle different tasks. Creamy crew continued rock bar reconstruction while crunchy crew began a massive reroute of a particularly swampy section of trail. With a day broken up by scattered thunderstorms (including some dime sized hail!), creamy crew decided to rejoin their counterparts on the reroute project.

A man in a yellow jacket standing in a forest.

Thinking back to the Young Gulch days with our trail mentor Nate, the crew constructed a very sustainable (and dry!) section of trail. At the end of the day, we felt the utmost pride in our work. We returned to our campsite where Mario cooked an amazing tuna alfredo dish. With full bellies, we retired to our tents for some much needed sleep.

Monday, we woke up on a foggy morning excited for a shower and dry, clean clothes!! We packed up our campsite, making sure to leave no trace of our presence. On the hike out, we were able to test out the 150+ feet of new tread that we dug. After walking the new section we were feeling proud of the work we did as we hiked out on Little Beaver Creek trail. The magnificence of this trail lies in its diverse landscapes- meadows, thick lodgepole forests, and swamps. It was a quiet hike out as we all reflected on the past week of work.

-Sarah and Nathan, Rawah Crew Leaders of the Week

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