Burn Area Trail Work Days

~These trails are closed, the PCTA is working under the invitation of the Forest Service.
There are stiff fines (and plenty of hazards) for ignoring these closures!~

I’ve been working in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Burn a lot these last few months. I am a volunteer Trail Crew Leader In-training, with the Pacific Crest Trail Association.

We’re filling holes left by root burns, removing burn debris, clearing landslides, logging out the burned, down trees off the trail (we don’t fell trees as a rule). In some of the severely burned areas, the trail disappears and we have to re-establish the tread.  Everywhere, there are rocks. Landslides of rocks, rocks on the trail, rocks upslope waiting to fall on you. Fire-tempered boulders often split and leave sharp edges.

So what is a typical day like? Our work days run 8AM-5:30PM. You have to be committed to being on-time, working all day (if anyone leaves, all of us have to, because they take one Crew Leader away and we need two for burn area work). We lay out our tools and each pick up a load, grab your hard hat, and head up the Herman Creek Trail as a group. Last logout I carried an axe, a hand saw, cross-cut long saw, and the handles for it. Plus 3 litres of water, lunch, spare clothes, and my ten essentials.

First time through an area I know so well was a shock. The green gone from the forest floor, trees burned and down, it literally made me cry to see it. Subsequent trips, it just now looks like a forest healing from a fire. There are new views, places you didn’t even know where there with all the thick undergrowth and moss everywhere. The Gorge is a giant rock pile, now really obvious even in the forest.

A Logout Party means our primary targets for the day are the downed logs.  We carry more saws than trail tools, fewer hoes and such. It also means we are working over longer sections, taking out logs crews working on the tread and clearing could not remove. It’s far more hazardous, and the PCTA offers three levels of certification for Sawyers – A, B, and C.   Swampers work to prep the logs and cut, clean up before and after, under the supervision of a Certified Sawyer.

(to be continued)


All smiles 🙂
Crosscut on a largish log across the Pacific Crest Trail.
It’s sooty, muddy, and hard work
Saw love ❤

5 Replies to “Burn Area Trail Work Days”

  1. Thank you for all that you and the fire crews do to keep everyone fire safe, safe from potential harm. I live in the Tahoe National Forrest area, and even when we have been evactuated, there are always people who ignore all the signs that are up for our safety!
    Fire season is amongst us, and our beloved Forrest is filled with fallen branch debris and trees. We are a tight fit community up here, and work together to keep our properties clear of dry pine needles and branches. It has been an unusually powerful winter which has left the Forrest filled with kindling for potential fires this summer! My neighbor works for the Forrest division, I know of the hard work you all do. Once again, Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Myth! Next week we have a three day Trails Skills College in Cascade Locks, Oregon, where I’ll be getting chainsaw certification, too. First work party of the year for me on the 20th, back working on the Pacific Crest Trail. I’ve missed it, last Spring was so intense with clearing trails from the Eagle Creek Fire. Hope you have a more uneventful fire season this year!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh you’re very welcome! I love you’re blog! Be safe out there surrounded by so much beauty, though the hint of danger is always up front and center. Bless your heart for all that you do to help keep a clean environment, and keep areas fire safe!

        Liked by 1 person

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