Being a Wilderness Ranger Intern in the Bob Marshall Wilderness has definitely helped me learn about and appreciate the complex nature of wild places. It has also reconnected me to lessons learned through experience as a child. So in many ways, the Bob Marshall Wilderness brings you full circle with fresh eyes.
This hitch wasn’t just a Wilderness Conservation Corps work party. Trail crew leader Rebecca Kambic and a six (6) BMWF volunteers joined us as we trekked up Headquarters Pass in hopes of seeing mountain goats (oh, and to do some work too). The hike to the top was short but steep and breathtakingly beautiful with waterfalls, ridges, and mountain views all around. Once we got to camp, we wasted no time setting up our backcountry kitchen, tents, and exploring the surrounding area.
As I swung my pick for the hundredth time that day into the rocky hillside above trail 402, I was startled by shouts from my WCC crewmates. The commotion was a reaction to the rather large, rounded rock Trevor had dug up from the trail and was cradling in his arms with no safe place to put it beside the trail on the steep slope. The crew watched intently as Trevor adjusted his stance, shifted the rock backwards, then forwards, and released it over the beargrass-blanketed slope. It rolled and bounced its way toward the drainage below—the target—all the while picking up speed as our eager whoops and hollers egged it on. A final bound sent the rock soaring through the air until it crashed into the creek with a satisfying “thud.” The crowd went wild!
On July 30th I woke up to the thrill of new adventures. The WCC’s 4th hitch was only hours away and I couldn’t be more excited to enter the Scapegoat Wilderness for the first time. Having previously spent trail day with the Lincoln District, it was nice for me to be working with some familiar faces knowing that we would all work well together.
I had a pick mattock, but that does not mean that I knew how to use it. The summer before I had stolen it from a local campground with a good friend of mine, a move I do not regret. The pick sat in my car for a year before it was more than a conquest. It took time for the pick to become something to me, something more than a stolen good and more than a tool. Even when I finally learned to swing a pick correctly and with purpose I did not understand where it would take me. Now I look at that pick and I am reminded of who I am and why I am here and where I am going, and what all of that means.