The group awoke on the 4th of July to the smell of pancakes cooking and the sweet sounds of “Party in the USA” being sung by the leaders. The rest of the day was filled with preparations for going into the backcountry, such as shopping for groceries and packing bags. Everyone enjoyed playing a game of ultimate frisbee during some down time, and Sawyer and Scott worked to prepare spaghetti and salad for dinner.
We spent the next three full days with the National Forest Service (NFS) working to reroute two areas of the Station Creek trail. On our short hike in and first afternoon of work, Devin continued to bond with the NFS crew members we had met on the first backcountry trip, picking up on their trail slang and snack preferences. Nick discovered a nest of four baby birds whose tree had been jostled around during our work, and he searched for caterpillars and grubs to feed them. Katie Z. helped the cook crew prepare dinner on the first night and came up with a creative and useful way to strain pasta through a Ziploc bag.
Devon celebrated her 16th birthday on the 7th! The group woke her up with a happy birthday song and gave her an inflatable flamingo as a gift (lovingly named Flappy D), and Chase led a group in putting together a no-bake Oreo cheesecake for a birthday dessert. We bid farewell to the NFS workers that afternoon, who hiked out the day before we did. Matt was particularly sad to see them go, but he took advantage of every moment we had to work with them.
Katie R. especially enjoyed our last backcountry meal: rice and beans with tomato, pepper, and onion. After dinner, Scott chatted with several others about favorite, best, worst, and funniest movies and TV shows.
On the 8th, everyone started the short hike back to the trailhead five minutes apart. Sawyer, who loved the backcountry sections of our trip, enjoyed having the time alone to reflect on our few days in the wilderness. Jack played catcher in a short game of wiffleball while waiting for his turn to hike out.
After we arrived at the vans, we were treated to some tunes by DJ Hannah, and then it was off to town for showers and ice cream. The group was wowed by Charles’ ingenuity in using trail snacks as ice cream toppings. Afterward, the whole group collaborated to buy supplies for our upcoming climbing trip. Tyler demonstrated his trailer packing acumen, and then we headed back to camp to cook up dinner. As we ate, everyone reflected on the meaningful work they had done with the Forest Service, and looked forward to climbing and rafting in the coming days.