Whew, it's been a month since we last updated this blog, apologies!
We've both been on the go..Jason spent 2 1/2 weeks in Big Sur, CA with the fires. The Platte Canyon fire crew was featured on Yahoo! Here is the link - they are the guys with the green helmets.
Unfortunately, along with the satisfaction of starting the back burn that saved Big Sur, the boys also returned with bad cases of poison oak! Jason is still scratching non stop and there is not a remedy out there that will cure him! If anyone has any suggestions, please, pass them along ! I can't place my hands on him without being asked to scratch! I don't mind too much though ;)
My job with the Forest Service is going amazingly well. I truly enjoy going to work every day and working outdoors..each day is different and I have had the privilege of working in some beautiful places so far. Last week, Andrew (my crew leader) and I were asked to assist the American Hiking Society with their "Volunteer Vacation". This required camping out in the Lost Creek Wilderness for 4 days/3 nights. The volunteers consisted of 6 members of the AHS from around the country (we had ppl from AZ, TN, Iowa, Denver, & Maryland), all different ages (ranging from 30s-60s). They hiked in last Sunday and will be there until tomorrow. Andrew and I hiked in on Monday morning. My pack was 45+ lbs., and the hike in was about 3 miles, uphill! I have never done anything like that before, and my legs and shoulders constantly reminded me of that for the whole week :) We arrived at McCurdy Park around 5, just in time for a spaghetti dinner! The AHS had 2 ppl along with them who were our "chefs" for the trip. I didn't lose any weight on this trip, that's for sure! Good meals galore. Spaghetti, salmon cakes, delicious salads, chili burritos, chocolate cake, apple struddles.. A mule pack string had packed in all of the food and tools for the week. They even carried in some Fat Tire (beer), which was a nice little treat at the end of a long day!
Our days consisted of creating water bars and drainage on parts of the Brookside-McCurdy trail. We also cut out many fallen trees and pruned/cleared stretces of the trail. Since the trail is also used as an equestrian trail, there were certain guidelines for how wide the trial needs to be, as well as how low the clearance can be for horses to get through safely.
The weather was beautiful all week. 70s during the day with light breezes. We had a few sprinkles during the evening, but the pattering of the rain on my tent just helped me sleep even better. Once the sun set, the temps fell abruptly into the 40s, brrr! The only thing that coaxed me out of my warm down sleeping bag at 7 a.m. was the thought of strong coffee awaiting me down at the camp kitchen area.
The area we were in was absolutely stunning. The rock formations were mind boggling, and many people mentioned it was like a "whole other world" from the rest of Colorado. Here is a description of the area we were in -
The Lost Creek Wilderness was created under the Colorado Wilderness Act of 1980. The original 105,000 acres plus the 1993 addition of approximately 14,700 acres brought the total acreage to its current 119,790 acres. The entire Wilderness lies within Pike National Forest, split between the South Park and South Platte Ranger Districts. Unlike most of Colorado's jagged alpine wilderness profiles, Lost Creek is a land of fascinating rounded granite domes and knobs, split boulders, rare granite arches, and tree-lined mountain parks. Wilderness elevations range from 8,000 feet to 12,400 feet. Lost Creek, the wilderness's name sake, got its name from its numerous disappearances into rock piles and underground passages, only to later reappear further downstream. At its final reappearance, it becomes Goose Creek. Black bears, bighorn sheep, deer, elk and bobcats share the region. Vegetation in the area includes ponderosa, bristlecone, and lodgepole pine, aspen, spruce, fir and alpine tundra. About 130 miles of trails serve the Wilderness, including the Colorado Trail, which passes through the area. For more on Lost Creek Wilderness, visit Wilderness.net. History Although there are remains of logging camps and sawmills on the outskirts of the Wilderness, the heart of Lost Creek was too wild for much commercial use other than grazing. There was a failed attempt between 1891 and 1913 by the Antero and Lost Park Reservoir Company to dam Lost Creek underground at a site just below the confluence of Lost Creek and Reservoir Gulch. All that remains now near the site are a few old buildings and some rusting machinery. One of a set of three maps of the Pikes Peak, Plum Creek, and South Platte Forest Reserves (most of the current Pike National Forest), drawn in 1898 for the 20th annual report of the USGS, shows most of the southern end of the present day Wilderness as being "Badly Burned". In 2002, the Hayman Fire burned approximately 6,000 acres along the east edge of the wilderness. Fortunately, very little of the trail system, other than the short sections of the Goose Creek and Hankins Pass trails immediately adjacent to the Goose Creek Trailhead, were affected. Be aware of the possibility of falling snags, particularly on windy days. In 1963, the 15,120 acre Lost Creek Scenic Area was created under the precursor of the Wilderness Act, the “U-Regulations” of 1939. In 1979, it was also designated a National Natural Landmark. During the first U.S. Forest Service RARE process, Lost Creek received more comments recommending its wilderness designation than any other Colorado area. In 1980 the 105,000 acre Lost Creek Wilderness was created under the Colorado Wilderness Act of 1980. Approximately 14,700 additional acres were later added to the west end of the Wilderness under the Colorado Wilderness Act of 1993.
It was such a great week, I really enjoyed roughing it..no cell phones, no electronics, no cars..just us and the great outdoors. The smells, sounds, sights, and insights I was able to experience made a big impact on me and I'm happy to be in a place and a job that allows me to do these things!
Below are a few photos I found on various websites of the area we were in - one of the volunteers is sending me her photos once she returns home next week, my camera was left at home..but this is basically what we were surrounded by while camping & working.
In other news, we are in the process of buying a HOUSE! More to follow on that (and the wedding!) - hope everyone has a FANTASTIC weekend xoxox J & J