With Labor Day Weekend coming up, we know the end of summer is drawing near. Sigh! But it’s been another exciting season in the world of Friends of the Inyo, as you will be able to tell from these narratives submitted by our hard-working Trail Ambassadors. Please enjoy reading about what they have been up to, share with your friends and networks, and, if you see them out on the trails, please say hello to them and thank them for their work. They will still be working with us and leading hikes till the end of September!

Smiles all around.

From Colt Russell, Mono Basin Ranger District

Working as a Trail Ambassador, I feel like this whole season has been one extended highlight in my life. But my favorite moments have been during the longer work outings. My first was a three-night trip up the Rush Creek Trail with a local Wilderness Ranger. Rain-soaked and mosquito-bitten, the two of us worked long hours to remove 14 downed trees, which demanded all of our skill and endurance. I was reminded of the satisfaction of hard work, and I gained an even deeper appreciation for the rangers and trail crews who show such grit in keeping wilderness safe and accessible. It takes many individuals and coordinated efforts to manage our forests, and some of the most dedicated soldiers for the cause are our volunteers. I had the privilege to lead a group of six volunteers for a backcountry work week in the 20 Lakes Basin. We laughed, panted, perspired, and sighed in relief together at the end of each day. We shared our diverse knowledge and discussed the future of Wilderness as bug bites and cold nights challenged our resolve. I witnessed acts of kindness and a blossoming sense of camaradery against the rugged backdrop of the Eastern Sierra, a place we all hold in our hearts as something worth preserving, something worth fighting and sweating for. The word “inspire” derives from Latin inspirare, to ‘breathe or blow into.’ My time with Friends of the Inyo has filled me with a huge breath of gratitude and passion.  Forest management is like the management of a healthy respiratory system, ensuring many nourishing, easy breaths of inspiration from Wilderness – the lungs of our country. Many thanks to all of the people I have worked with, both in the field and behind the scenes. You make a difference!(Selfie is of Colt in the center, surrounded by Backcountry Volunteers Peter, Wendy, Steve, Wu, David and Susan)

From Logan Hamilton, Mt. Whitney/Golden Trout Wilderness Ranger District

Recently this past month, I participated in a group Wilderness restoration project. Located in the southern part of the Golden Trout Wilderness, itrequired a string of pack mules to carry out our tools and equipment for five days. This was my first ever group overnight, and also my first pack- supported endeavor. It reminded me of a similar feeling of a summer camp outing, and it rekindled my soul. The objective of the trip was to remove, clear and consolidate two miles of barbed wire “drift fencing.” Together, eight of us worked as a team and dismantled entire sections. At the end of each day, covered in dirt and rust, we gathered and ate dinner together content with that day’s effort. This was the most rewarding experience and exchange with the Wilderness. Not only could you see the drastic change with the absence of fencing, but the enviroment was returned to its natural state. One thing I’ve learned: Trail work might seem hard and demanding, but Mother Nature always acknowledges and reciprocates. This is the beauty of Wilderness. (Photo is of the Golden Trout Wilderness Backcountry Volunteer Team relaxing after a day of defencing.)

From Brian Bosak, Mammoth/
High Sierra Ranger District

Many creeks have dried up, the trail mud from this year’s great snowmelt is diminishing, and it’s comfortably cold for sleeping at night. I even had to worry about where to collect water on the trail last weekend. These are the signs I see that the season is ending, but I expect we’ll clear more miles of trail in the next six weeks than we were able to do in the last three months. Trees can block the trail in puzzling ways, and I like when I happen to witness visitors walking down a newly cleared section. (Photos illustrate Brian’s narrative.)

From Kelly Kish, Humboldt-Toiyabe Ranger District

August was an exciting month filled with a lot of sun to really get busy on the trail. I did lots of brushing, but the biggest part of the month was going out on hitch with the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) and Forest Service for eight days in the Humboldt-Toiyabe. We were up at Harriet Lake, on the north side of Yosemite National Park, working on the PCT. We had stock support and hiked the 12.4 miles out to our camp for the week. It was beautiful! An alpine lake surrounded by granite outcroppings and the true quiet of the wilderness. The PCTA works with American Conservation Experience (ACE) and Student Conservation Assocation (SCA) crews on parts of the PCT that need attention. This trip was set to rebuild some granite steps, build a water crossing, and pull a big lodgepole out of the trail using rigging. The days were long, and full-on, with high-energy rock work to complete our tasks. Midway through, it started raining a lot. The rain, with the abundance of mosquitos, left us in our rain gear a lot as we tried to keep dry. The trip was successful though: We built a water crossing, pulled the double-trunked tree out of the trail, on which we fixed a lot of problem spots, and built steps to mend a steep trenched-out section. Getting out into the higher alpine was rewarding, and it’s always fun to work with other organizations that have similar goals. (Photos illustrate the hard work Kelly and partnering organizations engaged in, to the benefit of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and all who love and enjoy it.)

Jean Redle, Lead Trail Ambassador, White Mountain Ranger District

It is starting to feel like the dog days of heat, trail drainage issues, and avalanche debris clearing are coming to an end. It’s been a treat to get further out on trails such as Lamarck Col, Ruwau Lake, Blue Lake, Treasure Lakes and George Lake. There are certainly still messes to clear out there, but we are slowly getting the most popular trails open from last winter’s snow damage. We also held a couple of successful volunteer events, Rock Creek Lake Cleanup and Onion Valley Trail Days. I moved the Nature-based Yoga program from Rock Creek Lake to Hayden Cabin in Mammoth. Feel free to drop in on Fridays from 8:30 to 9:45 am to practice outside this historic log cabin museum. The program will take place until at least mid September. It’s hard to believe that it is the end of August with so many wildflowers, sphinx moths, lush meadows and high creek flows! What an abundant year for nourishment in the high country! (Photos are of Jean on the way to Lamarck Col, looking down on Upper Lamarck Lake, and of Jean’s Nature Yoga class at Hayden Cabin in Mammoth.) 

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