Skeleton Crew knocks er dead

Last week I had the pleasure of running a six day volunteer trail crew deep in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area of southwest Oregon. SMC volunteers Aaron Babcock, Rob Ginsbach, Angie Caschera and Tim Nace hiked nine miles through brushy, rugged trail into Carter Creek from Babyfoot Lake.

The plan was to hike straight into Slide Creek and start clearing trail untouched since 2002, but that wasn't possible.

Windfall, jackstraw and brush had again completely choked the section of Bailey Mtn Trail No. 1109 between Carter and Slide Creek that our volunteers mercilessly attacked in 2010. It was as if we'd never been in there before.

But surely, the Skeleton Crew (there were only five of us total), knocked the trail out. We started by brushing out the jungle of Tanoak and Greasewood that had regrown over the last two springs. Then we logged out the hundreds of logs that had fallen, as if we were playing a giant game of pickup sticks.

Slowly the trail showed itself from underneath two years of maintenance backlog, and once again ambitious hikers can safely pass from Babyfoot Lake to Bailey Cabin, Bailey Mountain to Slide Creek via the Trans-Kalmiopsis Route.

When I started this endeavor -- to clear a 28-mile continuous route through the Kalmiopsis -- in 2009, I had no idea how much work was going to be involved. How much time, commitment, planning executing my goal was going to require. To be honest, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

But the plan doesn't matter. The Kalmiopsis has a plan of her own, and that's the plan we'll follow. All we can do is keep putting boots on the ground and running saws through trees, keep our heads up, our bodies safe and keep chipping away at the Trans-Kalmiopsis Route.
The Skeleton Crew from left to right: Angie Caschera, Tim Nace, Rob Ginsbach, Aaron Babcock. Not pictured: Gabe Howe