Wilderness Ranger Jimmy Pardo gets his legs under him in Dufur:
As usual the last few weeks flew by, each day crammed with hard work on a beautiful trail in the Mt. Hood National Forest. A big part of our recent work was tackling the Little Badger trail and School Canyon trail. There were so many trees on the trail. We inched our way down, not making nearly as much distance as we are used to. It was a little disheartening, but the trees we were tackling were incredible lessons. Little Badger alone really made us stronger, mentally and physically. We had several “no-gos” that we were able to revisit, re-evaluate, and clear. The only tree that remains is this massive tree that has limbs as big as most of the trees we’ve been cutting. We are going to return to that one with Jim and a bajillion wedges to keep our saw from getting mashed by the incredible weight of this massive tree.
School Canyon, being on the east side of the Badger Creek Wilderness, was not nearly as bad. The terrain has fewer trees, but that leaves us more exposed to sun. There were so few trees on the School Canyon trail, we were convinced that we were going to have a short day. Alas, our last tree was a pain in the boot. We began to cut into it and discovered this rather large tree was pretty soggy (rotten). So we had to muscle our way through it. Mack had the great idea to utilize a tiny bit of saw lubricant and it helped immensely. The sun was really beating down on us and when we finally got through it we decided we needed to get some video.
Our last few days this past week, we were smoothing out a mountain biking trail in Brooks Meadow. That too was tough, but countless hikers and mountain bikers will get to enjoy a smooth curving trail with out hitting any hairpin turns or crashing in any small dips. When the work week is over we are fortunate to get 3 days off to rest.
In Dufur, I have met some really great folks who build ukuleles and I have begun working with them on my off time throughout the week. They are teaching me how to build a uke and I am a 1/3 of the way done with my first ukulele. They even invited me to a monthly jam where the musical part of town gets together and plays bluegrass and old timey songs. They danced and had homemade pie! Yum!
The town, though small and very different from the Portland I am used to, is really growing on me. The Mt. Adams Institute has really opened a door for me here and I have the opportunity to stay on with Forest Service through the winter. It would be great to continue serving out here and learning another great trade building ukuleles with my new uke friends. Either way, time is flying and I am definitely having fun. I do miss playing soccer and hope that wherever I go this winter I can make it to a few FC Athens soccer games in Portland. The pace out here and the stars are hard to beat, I must say.
With the end of our term getting closer and the start of other MAI programs approaching, I wanted to welcome any questions readers might have, especially if you are considering applying to work with the Mt. Adams Institute. I might not have the answers you are looking for, but I can definitely point you in the right direction. Working in the wilderness is a blessing beyond my wildest dreams and I encourage anyone who has a passion for nature to keep stepping forward towards those open doors, even if they seem far away. MAI has great opportunities that will move you closer and closer to star filled skies, epic sunsets, hard earned smiles, strength, pride, and joy that will permeate everyone around you, not just yourself. MAI programs really do change lives.