Volunteering in the Tetons
After a smooth, easy arrival day at the Jackson airport, we headed to our campsite at Gros Ventre and enjoyed burgers, hotdogs, and watermelon for dinner. We had our first evening circle, where everyone got the chance to describe why they chose this trip and what they hoped to get out of the experience.
The next day, we embarked on an 8.5-mile hike on the Cascade Canyon Trail through Grand Teton National Park. Although we didn’t glimpse any bears or moose, we got some spectacular views of Jenny Lake and the surrounding mountains. Our cook crew for that evening, Chase and Nick, showed off their culinary expertise by preparing a delicious chicken pineapple curry dish. The entire group bonded quickly and easily, coming up with nicknames for each other while dinner was cooking. We ended the night with a campfire and s’mores!
On Tuesday, we took part in our first service project in the National Elk Refuge. Under the effective guidance of our Co-Leaders of the Day, Devon and Matt, we worked to replace about .75 miles of barbed wire fencing with wood to prevent animals from getting entangled and injured. Hannah and Tyler made a burrito buffet for dinner, which was followed by a rain shower and a full, vibrant rainbow.
The next morning, we woke up early to prepare to go into the backcountry! After meeting our National Forest Service (NFS) guides, we drove to our trailhead in the Gros Ventre Wilderness and backpacked a tough, up-and-down 4.5 miles before setting up camp. We then spent two full days working with the NFS to fix part of a trail that had flooded when beavers dammed a creek. One group hauled rocks to fill in the swampy area, another shoveled mud to create a drainage ditch, and a third cut tall weeds to clear part of the path. Charles and Scott created a rolling system to transport heavy rocks to the trail more efficiently. During breaks, Sawyer hit some home runs in a makeshift baseball game, and the whole group splashed around in the creek to cool down and wash off some mud.
The second day of trail service was highlighted by Devin’s hard work carrying buckets of gravel from the river to a line of people moving the buckets to the trail. Co-Leaders of the Day Katie R. and Tyler kept us on schedule all day long and wrote a great poem for the group journal. For dinner, Jack and Katie Z. managed to make a great fried rice dish for 15 people using just one stove, one pan, and two pots. We went to bed early in preparation for our hike out in the morning. The group made it through many tough uphill sections without complaint. After saying goodbye to our NFS guides, we headed to Jackson for showers, laundry, grocery shopping, and ice cream!