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[Image Description: Four MCC members wade across a river. In the background, there are hillsides covered in gold from the quaking aspens, and deep green pine trees.]

Yarrow on the Mountain

A crew member wearing an MCC shirt and helmet faces away from the camera, looking down into a valley.

We set out for Big Creek while smoke from the Alberta fires still wafted southwards. After three days of training in the MCC office back in Kalispell we were hungry for some movement. Ready to put our training into action. Raring for that first hitch.

Every time you see the mountains out West it takes more than a few minutes for your mind to fully accept what your eyes are seeing. As each day became less and less smokey, more and more of the landscape was revealed. Each morning some previously hidden beauty was laid out before us.

With stomachs full of oats and packs stocked with water and sausage we hiked the trails of Big Creek carrying with us the tools of the trade. Picks, loppers, shovels, McLeods, pulaskis, and saws. Up and down the lines the tools went, passing from one crew member to the other. As each day closed we'd become more efficient in our work and more in tune with one another.

"Uhhhh, let me get a Mcleod down here."
"One Mcleod with cheese, coming up!

With a seasoned crew leads in front of us and a meat and cheese-fueled diet to back us up, we took the first week by storm. Speaking of storms, we weathered the weather. Rain, sun, smoke, and frost. Big Creek gave us a taste of each flavor of the Montana spring. So after four days of digging hinges on the trail, clearing corridors, and defining switchbacks we returned to Kalispell tired, inspired, and ready to roll into the next hitch.

So a word to the wise if you go rambling around near Big Creek; be sure to have some dried yarrow in your pockets, cheese in your cooler, and a good 4 to 5 liters of that fine Montana H20. From there the mountains will do the rest.