Something one needs to do well during this internship is have a “go with the flow” type of attitude. On my third trip into The Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, I was surprised to find out at the trail head that two trips had been combined because of lack of volunteers. So instead of a small weeds trip including Marchand, another intern named Danny, five other volunteers and myself, this trip doubled in size. After an incredible drive just south of Glacier National Park to the Summit Trail head, the two crew leaders and I did the usual safety discussion which includes hiking in bear country, staying hydrated, and hiking with stock animals on the trail. After the safety talk and introductions were over with, we hit the trail. It was a 13 mile hike in to the Badger Cabin where we would be staying for a the duration of the trip. Unfortunately, our stock packer only had five mules with him so everyone had to carry most of their personal gear. Since I usually try to help carry pieces of gear for the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation such as the first aid kit, a couple saws, and other small items, my pack was around 55 pounds (about 20 pounds more than I have been carrying this summer). The group started at 9:30 a.m. and did not arrive to the cabin until around 5:30 p.m. Whenever you hike with a large group of people, the hike can take a bit longer. This trail was especially difficult because we had more than eight river or creek crossings. So every time we came to one it would take about 15 minutes to take off the boots, put on the river crossing shoes, put your hiking boots back on, and start hiking again.
This cabin was well worth the trouble to hike to. It was located on badger creek, and had a large amount of land available for the horses and mules to graze. Similar to the North Fork Cabin I stayed at, it included a nice kitchen set with counters and a nice table. It also included two bunk beds that I resisted sleeping in telling myself, “You did not drive all the ways from Massachusetts to sleep in a cabin and not underneath a full moon and sky full of stars.”
I was happy to hear that on this trip instead of spraying a noxious weed called toad for three days which seemed to be all over the property, I would be helping the east side crew leader Megan teaching and partaking in trail maintenance. On our first workday, we went to our first assignment and did a lot of hiking before we came to our first log to cut. With so few logs down on the trail, we ended up fixing a lot of drainage areas for the trail. After lunch, we continued up along a long ridge until we found a couple huge patches of snow! It was an incredible location with a view way out into Glacier National Park. It was a scorching hot day at around 90 degrees and no one could resist from making a few snow angels and throwing a few snowballs.
Day two consisted of another long hike; only we were surprised when we saw that the creek we were relying on for water was completely dry. Luckily on this trip, our packer Keith had stayed with us the whole weeks and helped carry our tools. He would go ahead of us and scout the trail. We kept hiking up a mountain called Half Dome Crag for one last log but it was another hot day and by far the longest hike we had to do for work. We cut the last log on the trail and turned around for the cabin and would not be back till around 6 p.m.
It can be very difficult hiking in “The Bob” sometimes because of how many other unmarked games and cow trails. These are trails not registered though the forest service but are used by hunters and are also made by large amounts of cattle that roam through the land. On our third and final workday, we lost our focus and ended up on the wrong trail. It took a few hours to get to our work site and there was not much there anyways, so we built a few trail markers called Cairns. Cairns are rock piles intentionally built to hikers do not go astray. After we made the trail more obvious to hikers, we headed back a little early tired from the day before.
All around it was a great trip because it exposed me to a number of skills outdoor leaders need such as patience and decision-making. It was clear we did our jobs well as educators, when one of the teenage volunteers on the trip was showing how badly she did not want to leave with her parents at the trail head. Volunteers for the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation, come out on these trips to give back, relax, and have an enjoyable time in this incredible wilderness area. After approximately 60 miles hiked, 30 trees cut, and many water bars cleared, we left with a sense of accomplishment over those five days.