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The MCC Blog

Engage

Incline

The morning of June 22nd, the crew once again steps out into the cool and still air of our parking lot and loading area, steeling ourselves for the drive and the work ahead. Having loaded packs and equipment into the trailer "Cream", we pile into the ever resilient "Peaches", unsure (as we have been since the beginning) whether or not this would be our last journey together. We arrive some hours after midday in Martin Canyon and set up camp on the side of a hill, which rolls down onto the dirt road upon which we arrived. Sleeping on the slope proved a prelude to what lay ahead of us in the morning.

The task at hand was to thin out douglas fir from various sections of the hillside to promote aspen growth. Armed with loppers and handsaws the ascent began as it always would: immediate, uphill, and laborious. The incline of the mountains of Martin Canyon was unforgiving as we trudged along lengthwise from one boundary to the next. We cut down and pulled out any doug fir we could find before climbing uphill through downed logs and sticks, aligning ourselves parallel to our previous path, and beginning the process anew. The hills and mountains aimed to cut down our legs and drown out our spirits, but in the face of such fierce opposition, our bond and perseverance only grew stronger with each painstaking step upward.

Having passed the trial of the canyon after 5 days of work, we went on to collect bitterbrush seeds in the Idaho desert. This time our challenger was not the topography of the land but the ruthless gaze of the sun in conjunction with our own waning energy. The work of seed collection is technically very simple: in one hand there is a tennis racket, and the other holds a large basket of canvas forming a half-dome with a circular metal lip over which the canvas is sewn. One takes the tennis racket and bashes bitterbrush bushes with it so as to knock the seeds out of their floral cradles and into the basket. The repetition of this same process over the course of a workday with no variety in work and no shade to take shelter in can take a toll on the mind, which we offset by working in pairs. Our only salvation from the monotony of the desert was the conversation made and the sweet music we would listen to.

Regardless of where our work was done, the light at the end of the tunnel that we held onto was the promise of water to wade in and clean ourselves with. Through the grapevine, we knew of a reservoir accessible from our campsite in Martin Canyon, and through our seed collection project partner, we found a gentle river in which to rest our weary bones and clean our worn bodies. Locating these bodies of water, however, was not so easy a task as learning of them. Driving in the loyal Peaches, we wound our way through the unmarked back roads of the surrounding area relying on the uncertain guidance of navigation apps and directions from fishermen. After searching and searching, we finally arrived at our oasis where we bathed and cooked good food. Determined to prove to ourselves that we could be better, the following night we made the trip once again to the reservoir in a fraction of the time it took us on our first journey. Pleased with ourselves we would make our way into the water each night, and each night we were as grateful for the gift of the reservoir and the river as though it was the first time we had seen such bounty.

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