By Jessi Loerch
The rules for the weekend were straightforward:
1. Be safe.
2. Have fun.
3. If the top two are managed, then get some work done.
I spent the weekend with the North 350 Blades working on the Pacific Crest Trail north of Stevens Pass.
I am uninjured (although somewhat sore) and I had fun and got some work done.
The North 350 Blades have been around just since 2010. That year they had 400 hours of volunteer work all year.
This year, crew leader Barry Teschlog said they’d probably come close to that number just with this trip, which was the first of the season.
I’ll be writing more about the trip and the group later. But for now, a few tidbits.
- We stayed at Dinsmore’s Hiker Haven. The Dinsmores are trail angels, meaning they support those who are hiking the PCT, which runs from Mexico to Canada. It was great to have an easy camping spot near the trail. The laundry room had drawers full of clothes for hikers to borrow while they are making use of the washer and dryer. They were labeled shorts, shirts and, my favorite, sparkly. Sparkly, it turns out, meant sequins. Lots of them. If I ever through-hike the PCT, I’m totally putting on the dress that is all-over purple sequins.
- A sign in the bathroom had a few ground rules. No. 1 was “Please pre-wash feet before you use shower.” Seems sound advice for people who may have covered hundreds of miles on a dirt trail since their last true shower.
- We used tools to dig up grass near the trail. (As it gets taller and encroaches on the trail, it will get hikers soaking wet after rain or in the morning.) We flipped the dirtballs into the trail until we could clear them. Little birds kept hopping around in it, presumably to go after the bugs we had exposed. I think they were hermit thrush, but possibly Swainson thrush.
- The brush saw is fun. I’m intimidated by power tools, but this is one I felt confident using. It’s fast and satisfying. And you look either amusing or bad ass, depending upon your perspective, all done up in the gear.
- It took a bit of instruction, but I now have a decent ability to cut through slide alder without making a huge mess of things. The last big branch I cut broke off with a perfect, clean snap. It was satisfying to remove such a big trail obstruction with just a little folding hand saw.
- You can fit all of the tools for a weekend, including an entire bag of hard hats riding shotgun, into a 2001 Oldsmobile Alero 2 door coupe. Although it actually takes an engineer to Tetris them in there. Barry is an engineer and, as he said, has good spatial skills.
- On the first day, Barry said the weather was supposed to improve throughout the weekend. Sadly, we never got “enough blue to patch a sailor’s pants,” as my great-grandmother always said. Instead it was mostly clouds and rain. The crew was remarkably good natured about it. Having the Hiker Haven to retreat to, with a roof and warm shower, helped a lot.