Read some exciting progress notes from our Trail Ambassadors, with an introduction and post-note from Stewardship Director Lindsay Butcher.
It is hard to believe, but here we are- already halfway through the Trail Ambassador season! My how time zips by… Despite the multiple false starts of summer and the ongoing damage control from winter, our TAs have been up to some awesome work alongside our Forest Service partners. Here are some highlights from their last month of work.
- From Logan, TA on the Mt. Whitney Ranger District of the Inyo National Forest: My Favorite day this month- Overnight in the Eastern Sierra: As morning twilight began to enter the Valley, I packed my belongings and prepared for the day ahead. It is a beautiful experience, waking/starting the day in tune with the surroundings of nature. Observing and acknowledging all the little things. The dusky grouse and her dozen chicks as they learn to forage for insects, the lone mule deer seeking out the unripe elderberries, thousands of dragonflies illuminated by the orange glow of the rising sun flying over the rushing creek. As the morning progresses I learn to stop and acknowledge everything. Taking time to appreciate. I quickly felt observed and understood by what surrounded me. I noticed the more I stopped and was presently aware of what I was looking at, the creature or object would show its full beauty and reciprocate. It was a beautiful exchange. Later on, once the sun rose above and was shining down I reached a saddle that overlooked Independence and Lone Pine. This made me very grateful to be able to hike and experience the beauty of this remote exposed hike. Thankful for health, family, work, and life I gathered myself and continued my way past the saddle, jauntily headed downhill. Back at the trailhead there was a beautiful creek to cool off in. It is truly these experiences I seek to share with people, and ones that I will never forget.
- From Jean, TA on the White Mountain Ranger District of the Inyo National Forest: The snow is finally starting to reveal the trails around 10-11,000 feet and we are breaking through to the other side, which means wildflowers galore! There have been abundant flowers in the areas of McGee Creek, East Fork, North Fork of Big Pine and Long Lake(s). Ralph Waldo Emerson said “the earth laughs in flowers.” Yes, it feels joyful, happy and alive in the Forest right now. Tiger Lilies, Monkshood and Sierra Rein-orchids are sipping the side stream flows, Scarlet Gilia and a variety of Penstemons hug the forest while Shooting Stars decorate the Meadows. Ephemeral waterfalls and rivulets create the music. Despite our efforts to divert water off of the trails, it’s good to be prepared for wet trails, muddy terrain and slippery snow above 10,500 feet. Enjoy breathing in the freshness of nature and if you want to learn more about the Sierra Nevada natural history, please join my Nature Yoga program on Friday mornings at 8:30 am. I will be moving this program from Rock Creek Lake to Mammoth Lake’s Hayden Cabin on Friday, August 18. I also will be leading Geology Walks on August 5, August 25 and September 9. See our events page to sign up!
- From Brian, TA on the Mammoth Ranger District of the Inyo National Forest: I spent one July work week camping in the Reds Meadow area and working on sections of the PCT and JMT with the Forest Service Trail Crew. The work was necessarily broken up by the creeks and rivers that those trails attempt to cross. This caused a shift in perspective for me. Frequently, we turned around and accessed whatever trails we could on whichever island we found ourselves: the island extending north from Devils Postpile to Minaret Creek or the island south of Agnew Meadows, for example. The waterways defined the landscape. (Brian’s work in the Mammoth area is supported by the Town of Mammoth Lakes and Measure U funds).
From Colt, TA on the Mono Lake Ranger District of the Inyo National Forest: When I applied to be a Trail Ambassador, I had many ideas about what the highlights of my season would be. I imagined alpine lakes, birdsong, and days spent in some of the most beautiful settings on Earth. I have not been disappointed in this respect, and already I feel like I have been blessed with many moments of solitary wonder and purpose on the trail. But what has touched me in a most unexpected and profound way is not the beauty of Nature, but the people I have met along the way. Families on reunion in their time-honored meeting places among the canyons and Aspen groves, couples from distant countries discovering themselves in new places, and locals passionate about their home and its uncertain future. I have met visitors to wilderness looking for peace, adventure, solitude, quality time together, or just a spot away from society to let loose and be themselves. There is no single reason people visit wild places, but there is a shared sense of value and gratitude among those I encounter. Having glimpsed the greatest good in human kind that shines so easily in beautiful, wild places, I have also been witness to the careless and unconsidered actions of those who have not learned Nature’s lessons. In short, I have been surprised by my experience and the complexity of our relationship to wilderness. Amid all these mixed messages, I am more convinced than ever of the importance of the work we do and the wild places we serve.
- From Kelly, TA on the Bridgeport Ranger District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe: The days have been hot! And it feels like summer is finally here after our wild Eastern Sierra winter. I have been working in public lands for a few years now, and what I’ve truly been enjoying about the Humboldt-Toiyabe is meeting the folks who recreate here. Most visitors I meet in the HT and in the Bridgeport area have been coming to the area for decades with their families. I’ll be on the trail, and people stop me and tell me about how the trail is different this year–how the aspen tree leaves are huge, and how the water is so big, how this is the first time they’ve seen flowers in this sagebrush basin. Working in public lands, most of my encounters are those asking questions of me, but in the HT, those I meet know more about the area than I do. And they generously share their knowledge, and insights to their favorite trails and areas. I’m enjoying the community of people who return year after year, and how they get to know an area with such compassion and care. Being on trail, with all the precipitation this year, there has been a huge focus on brushing. The plants are all happy, and growing big, but sometimes encroaching the trail too much. So this is the month of brushing and loping! My loppers are my ever-present companion in keeping the trail corridor wide enough for hikers, backpackers, and stock users. It can be tiring, however it can also bring me joy in looking back on a switchback and seeing the trail clearly defined and looking well taken care of. Pictured are an aspen leaf as big as my hand! And a photo from the Buckeye Hot Springs of the almost full moon at sunset.
Lindsay’s Closing Thoughts
Our TAs always blow my mind with their hard work, miles earned, and accomplishments along the way! We are headed into the busiest time of our season as Guided Interpretive hikes continue, collaborative service projects are completed, and volunteer events pile up on our calendar. Join us at an interpretive hike every week from now until October, and at the remaining volunteer events we have on our calendar. You can see all our events here.
And finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t extend HUGE thank you to the National Forest Foundation for supporting all our summer stewardship work!