Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wilderness Volunteers Internship: Adventure #3

Inyo National Forest, Minaret Lake

My last project for the year as a WV intern was just outside of Mammoth, California at the base of the Minarets. Aside from LAX, this was my my first time in California. It had only been a week since my last WV trip and I was excited to be on another project in a new, very beautiful, location. We met as a group the night before and helped to pack food into the bear panniers for the trip. On the route to basecamp, we saw Devils Post Pile National Monument, crossed the JMT and the PCT, and got a few glances at the spires in the distance.

Necessary Work

The region we were working in received 200% of normal annual precipitation which made for about 20 downed trees over the trail, washed out bridges and overfull water bars. Before working on WV projects I never really new how much it took to maintain trails. The first two days we logged out the trail using the cross cut saw to clear trees and block secondary trails. For the second part of the project we did a variety of tasks such as campsite restoration, rocking the trail and building check dams.

WV Community 

Perhaps the best part of WV projects is the community that develops during the trip. Everyone is passionate about the preservation of these recreational areas and has a deep respect and appreciation for the environment. It is so refreshing to leave the phone behind and spend a week straight focusing on just what is present.

What I learned from WV 

Being an intern for Wilderness Volunteers was an awesome experience that will help to shape my perception of conservation and preservation and serve as a means to give something back. I learned about the process of caring for the environment and I met numerous people with such a passion for the outdoors they are willing to give time in an effort for the greater good of the environment.  Thank you to everyone who has participated on a WV trip and I encourage anyone who is interested to give it a shot! See you later.

Written by Kevin Graves; WV's 2017 Intern. 

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Wilderness Volunteers Internship: Adventure #2

Snowmass Wilderness, Maroon Bells 

My second project of my internship with Wilderness Volunteers was in Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness. I came into the project ready and eager for the trip and the community of the coming week. Crazy as it is in the last week of July, snow prohibited us from working on the planned project which called for a quick back up plan. Plan B turned out to be working on the same trail system but on the back side of the Bells. The majority of the group met up at a nearby campground the night before, allowing us to get to know each other, exchange stories and anticipate the upcoming week. The next day the group (about 9 of us) piled into Forest Service trucks and 4-wheel to the trailhead for the hike into basecamp. As a Colorado native, I was surprised to be taken
back by the views throughout the trip. Cascading waterfalls, jagged peaks, an array of wildflowers and the daily moose sighting made for one of the fastest weeks of the summer. However, all of those things are not nearly as memorable as the community that grew over the week and the joy exchanged by working with other people for the good of the environment.

Factors of a Successful WV Trip  

The leaders for this trip; Carter and Jeff (with a huge thanks to Robin, Carter's wife for amazing food prep) made the week smooth and enjoyable. They had an in-depth understanding of the project which complimented the Forest Service crew well. In addition to that, all the volunteers were helpful with getting water, doing dishes and any other camp chores.

Trail work  

The project for the week was building water bars and check steps for a section of the four pass loop. We built a total of 98 features along the trail with panoramic views at over 12,000 feet each day. One neat opportunity of the trip was getting to talk to hikers about Wilderness Volunteers. Many seemed interested in getting involved in the organization in coming years. KJ, one of the other volunteers I
befriended told me that he used his vacation each year to come on WV trips. I thought to myself, what a great way to see the country and be doing something productive for the planet. Through my internship with WV I hope to spread this idea to more of the outdoor community. Becoming involved in something that allows us to be a part of something greater while still allowing us to have a great time outside is exactly what WV offers.

My Role as an Intern 

As an intern my main goal is to spark more interest and publicity for the organization. I will be writing an article to submit to Backpacker Magazine in an effort to communicate with the outdoor community about the awesome opportunities Wilderness Volunteers has to offer. I also plan to give a presentation to the environmental college and Northern Arizona University about the organization. In addition to that, I hope to continue my involvement with WV by participating in future trips and eventually becoming a trip leader. Help me by sharing WV with your friends and the rest of our community. See you on the trails!

Written by Kevin Graves, WV's 2017 Intern.