VetsWork: An Unknown Phenomenon

by | VetsWork

Hi my name is Spike. I am an AmeriCorps VetsWork member serving through the Mt Adams Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the connection between people and the natural world. I am working as a trail crew intern in the Hells Canyon Recreational Area of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest (Oregon/Idaho border). First a little about myself, I’m 6’5 so I say I’m tall. When someone lets say 6’3 says “I’m tall too” I say no I’m tall, your short! Now with that little information into the man behind the blog, Hells Canyon West rim is roughly 5,632 ft above river level with an East rim at 8,043 ft above river level while the Grand Canyon’s South rim is at roughly 4,000 ft with the North rim being at 6,000 ft. Grand Canyon more like Tiny Crack!

So trail crew intern, yeah yeah what does that even mean. Well honestly I had no idea when I applied, I was just too enticed by the thought of working for and in a National Forest. Trail crew: travel into the wilderness, clear trail and perform maintenance, patrol wilderness to ensure areas are being used in accordance with regulations, provide support for area stock animals. Ah that last one, being from a surf town in southern California that went right over my head. I’ve ridden a horse before, actually like 10 times so yeah, I can say pretty much a cowboy right? HA! I feed them an apple every morning with the intent of buying their affection, it’s not really working. I didn’t know how much I would love working with these animals.

Again, being from southern California I arrive with the mentality, okay lets go, where’s the mountain, where are the trails, what’s the first project? My regional difference put me at a disadvantage. I was informed of an unknown phenomenon that occurs in this part of the world called SNOW? My first true interaction with so called snow took place one morning when my mentor and I set off to a nearby pasture to determine the work to be done in order to be able to put the horses there while we were away. Backtrack a little for insight, when I left for work on this particular morning it was like any other, in the teens and bone dry. Somehow in the time span of us traveling the few miles to the pasture, the world started to end and frozen water started falling from the sky! The hillside and surrounding terrain that was naked rock and dead brush a few minutes before were now blanketed white. Even though the world was ending we still had a job to do and we needed to locate the water trough in the pasture. We set out up the hillside on the route I pretended was the trail that was supposed to be somewhere but buried. To sum up the rest of the story briefly we trudged along through the snow for a few miles. To our surprise we actually found it. With our mission accomplished we turned and headed back.

Well that’s enough for now I’ll be back with more in a few months.