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Finishing the Loop

A scene overlooking a burned forest and stumps with a crew member in the distance

Boy was this a hitch we won't be forgetting anytime soon. Mother Nature threw all She could at us as we fought to finish a 20-mile cut and run hitch in the Frank Church Wilderness. The hitch started as any other, hot and sunny, as we climbed the first half of our loop. At times, we could see smoke rising from the returned Club Fire, but it was of little issue, as the winds were in our favor to not have the fire jump the ridge and the forecast promised rain. Exploring burned ridgelines, we lost our trail a few times, cut hundred of logs, and reveled in the views that only the wilderness can offer. 13 miles in is where we had to reassess. From the ridgeline where we stopped for water, we could clearly see the flames from the Club Fire 300 ft above where our trail would lead us- it had jumped the ridge. After a night of camping, we headed back down to the other side of the loop, to finish as much as the fire would allow. The next day was bittersweet, as the rain and snow met us frequently throughout the workday, but it was enough to put out the fire and allow us the ability to finish our loop. Unfortunately, the rain persisted the rest of the hitch. With the fire ban ending, we spent our nights huddled around a fire drying our boots, warming our souls, and in my case- accidentally burning a pair of Darn Tuff socks!

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