When I first moved from Philadelphia to Bozeman at the beginning of May, I had no idea what job I had really signed up for. What exactly was conservation? What would I really be doing in Montana? Would I even like this job? My biggest fear was that I simply was not strong enough, gritty, or tough enough to be able to live in the woods, do this work, live with strangers, and thrive in such a different world than the one that I had grown up in. I mean, Philly versus Montana - that's a world of a difference.
The first hitch I went on way back in May... how do I put it... It humbled me for sure. I had my butt kicked with what felt like the longest days, the hottest sun, and the worst altitude sickness. I remember calling my mom and her, worried out of her mind, telling me "Sarah, do you think you're even going to be able to do this for the whole summer?" I told her I didn't know, but there was no way I was going to quit without putting my full effort into trying to get stronger. And I did.
Each hitch I went on I was exhausted by the end of it. But I hiked faster, developed 'trail eyes' for how to do the work better, and saw the most beautiful views I had ever seen. I woke up every day feeling stronger. I couldn't believe the ways that I was pushing my boundaries in ways I didn't know were possible in order to grow and learn new things. Before I knew it, I was not just flowing through the summer with my crew, but I extended my season to do this an extra three months. I've developed an amazing community of friends, a network of professional connections, and a deep love for a place that felt foreign to me just a few months ago.
Sometimes people ask me how I like doing conservation, especially considering I didn't fully know what it would entail or how I would like it. I almost always say the same thing: "I thought it was going to be really hard and I was going to hate it because it was so challenging. Turns out it is REALLY hard, and I love it more than anything I've ever done"
This last hitch, my crew went to Yellowstone to do trail work around the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The views were spectacular and my crew is efficient and so supportive of each other. I have never been so full of appreciation, wonder, and love for a place like I have here. There were days when we got to sit on the side of cliffs to eat lunch, evenings full of ice cream, hikes to waterfalls, and lots of wildlife. It was spectacular in all ways. Almost every day I have to look around at my crew and where we are and say: "Y'all we are the luckiest people in the world."