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Field Program

[Image Description: Two MCC members taking a brief break; one is sitting on a rock, the other is standing nearby. They are both in their uniforms, looking out at the expansive, mountain view surrounding them.]

From the Ashes We Rise

A charred landscape with little piles of ash among the burn area.

The sweet serenade from the chickadees, the gentle rustle of leaves on towering trees, and the joyful laughter of our members never fail to echo throughout our campsite each day. We hold on to the simple pleasures of life as we toil away day in and day out, reseeding ash pits in the hills of the Bridgers and West Yellowstone. The undeviating beauty of the world around us and the relationships we have made were the only factors keeping us grounded through this hitch that provided, what seemed to be, the toughest challenges of the season yet.

Roaring winds threatened our camp's stability from day one. Morale was low, eyelids were heavy, and our tents were in shambles. Long hikes, active burn piles, blocked gates, and little sleep were daily obstacles beating down on us. As the winds subsided, our spirits grew once more, propelling us toward the completion of reseeding all of the ash piles in the Bridger Mountains.

On Friday we welcomed a beautiful change of scenery with a drive down to West Yellowstone. The first day at our new worksite was a slow start. A familiar foe, the wind, had been kicking up ash into the air preventing us from finding a decent pace. We went to camp defeated yet determined to take on the next day, hoping to make some semblance of progress.

On the remaining days on hitch, "determined" became an understatement. Of the 103 ash piles reseeded, over 70 were completed in three days allowing us to come home a day early. Despite the unprecedented amount of work we completed, the challenges still hit us harder and harder, but never once did it break us. As we trekked through West Yellowstone we were confronted by thunderstorms, mountain lions, bears, treacherous roads, steep hills, and hot humid days. We took turns having sleepless nights, aching bones, and hard mental health days.

To say I am proud of my crew would be a disservice. Words cannot describe how impressed and thankful I am to be a part of this team. We were able to find the light and beauty in many moments, creating everlasting memories in-between moments of hard work. With every obstacle, we managed to come back stronger each time, rising from the ashes again and again.