That feeling when you get excited and nervous in your gut at the same time when first stepping foot on a trail is magical to me. The first week of this job was going in the field and learning what the trail is like and what hikers are transversing through. My co-worker and I covered thirty miles between Pioneer Mail Picnic Area to Lake Morena. It is crazy how quickly you can get a feel for the trail and what it is going to be like. The views were so pretty and we got lucky with the weather! Although we learned how much elevation plays a role in temperatures.
And I apologize if I constantly compare the PCT to the AT, but the grade of the PCT is super nice! I can definitely see how people can do twenty miles day easily considering that our timing generally was more than two miles an hour. We were moving without even meaning to!! One key point is that being water conscious is especially important because it is in the desert. However, there are resources such as the PCT Water Report and Farout (even though they might not be the most up to date).
The next week, we were paired with one of the Field Project Specialists whose job is to lead crews and help with trail maintenance. It is super interesting to learn about the different methods to prevent the trail from degrading and that’s what we were doing: scouting. Scouting is looking ahead to prepare the crews about what work and where the trail needs it along with camping locations for the crews to seeing how far the pack animals (such as horses) could get through in order to bring supplies sometimes. From rock formations, to the locations to put drainage in, to repairing the trail with runoff water there are so many things that go on behind the scenes. When out hiking/adventuring on the trail, or any trail for that matter, be sure to say thanks! Because when we were scouting, we noticed that it might be necessary to carry wood 3 miles up from a trailhead in order to repair the trail. That can be exhausting but also rewarding in the end. This upcoming week, I will actually be working with a crew for part of the time repairing one spot that is almost completely washed away. Hopefully the weather holds out for us.
One really nifty part is that one day when we were out scouting, we were probably the only people on that section of trail. Therefore, we might have been the only ones to see the rainbow which could be seen at each end. Very very cool!
February 20th, 2023
*Disclaimer: Everything written about the trails are my own opinion and not reflecting any of the over seeing organizations such as the PCTA’s work.*
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