This project was located in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest just west of Yellowstone, working on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) that starts down in New Mexico and stretches up to Canada. Working on this trail felt very special since people who hike the CDT are hiking for months at a time and travel across the entire country. During our debrief, we discussed how important it is to maintain the CDT since people who hike it literally depend on this trail with their lives. If this trail was not regularly maintained, people could get lost and run into wildlife such as bears or moose, and potentially lose their lives or get injured. Additionally, maintaining this trail protects the environment from being disturbed since all of the damage will be focused on the trail itself and not the forest around it.
While working in such a beautiful area, our crew practiced digging drains along the trail and exercised our knowledge of where water runs onto or off of the trail. Being able to look at a trail and see where the water will go helps in maintaining the integrity of the trail since we are able to strategically place drains to ensure that water will not damage the trail. We also practiced grubbing, which is removing the weeds that grow on the trail, and we defined the parts of the trail that were unclear. We also practiced lopping the overhanging branches along the trail to keep the corridor clear and we swamped for Chelsea and Rob as they cut down dead trees with chainsaws along the trail, and we helped put up and paint a kiosk at the beginning of a trail where a map will go. Overall, this hitch allowed us to individually build our connections to the land and really appreciate the ecosystems around us. We were finally able to hike a decent amount every single day and we all greatly improved in our trail skills, our camp skills, and our hiking skills.