The words of wilderness ranger Jimmy Pardo:
Leave it to the wilderness to make three weeks seem like three months — three wild and wonder-filled months. Week one, training in Trout Lake, was a daily dream, realized. Meeting our awesome MAI counterparts, Rangering 101, clearing trails in a burn-area with a highly experienced trail crew, dinner with Brendan’s incredible family, eating their pet pig and home-made ice cream, testing our crosscut saw skills on the PCT. That’s how you start a summer of purpose and adventure!
Our view from “home” was a front row seat facing Mt. Adams and we were lucky to see it from several angles during our week in Trout Lake. On our last evening we were invited to a local make-your-own-pizza get together and it was as good as it sounds. It happens every Friday till the end of summer, at an Art Gallery and school called Destino’s. Trout Lake is small, but has such vibrant people that it really leaves quite the impression. The local cheese maker (Cascadia Creamery) was hanging out and brought along some of their awesome cheese, kids were running about near the rushing river and the oven master (Rod) is a hilarious and knowledgeable anchor of the weekly event. Our pizzas were perfect!
Although I really enjoyed getting to know Andrew and Ryan, I couldn’t be sad about going our separate ways. We were all about to jump in, head first, into a grand adventure and what’s sad about that? I know we will hang again, with many new stories to share, but until then they will be missed.
Week 2 & 3 at the Barlow Ranger Station in Dufur:
Many will disagree, but this place… is Paradise! Although if I was not assigned the task of opening up trails in the Badger Creek Wilderness, I might feel slightly different, but not much. The guys’ bunk house at the station is so much more than I expected, all the amenities one might need and then some. At night you can see thousands of stars and the milky-way all while listening to crickets and little else.
Our Forest Service sponsor, Jim, kindly got Mackenzie and I settled into our new homes. He is a 6’ teddy bear made in the likeness of Bruce Willis — complete with scars and a thousand mile stare. He’s the real deal and wants us to succeed, but we have to show him that we are listening when he says this work can be dangerous and hard. He’s been doing the work of keeping wilderness areas safe and accessible for a long time and Mackenzie and I are really privileged to learn from him. Every encounter with him leaves a great impression. From what we gather, most everyone that knows him feels the same.
We were eager to get started and by the second day we were off towards Post Camp to get an idea of what needed to be done. With some adjustments and a better idea of where the fallen trees were, we cleared almost the entire trail by Wednesday. On Thursday, we began Fret Creek. I especially enjoyed this trail because it runs along a beautiful creek up to Oval Lake. We came across a tree that had smashed a walking bridge and it was exciting to assess the bridge, cut the fallen tree, and reopen that part of the trail. It really is baffling how quiet and peaceful the forest can be, but to see (and sometimes hear) how powerful, violent, and destructive these sleeping giants can be when they come down. Though the view from the office is a literal vacation, hazards are at the forefront of our minds when we are walking through the forest. There are dead trees leaning on dead trees, wind that makes them crack and sometimes fall, and even more hazards when we start to cut into trees crossing the trail. Mackenzie and I really have to stay in sync when it comes to safety, efficiency, and general awareness. Lucky for me she is really strong, really smart and a joy to work with. The trail we are working on now is just about clear, but next week we will push through a dense section of fallen trees and with some effort connect two trails that give access to the highly utilized Badger Creek trail. We also learned from Jim that soon we may even get the privilege of cutting a brand new trail! My eyes got pretty wide hearing that. Now I’m wondering, “Is that’s like discovering a comet or a planet… Do we get to name this new trail!?!?”
If so, I have some great ideas!