I’ve been all over Texas, but never have I seen the landscape change so drastically — from flat, empty plains to jagged red-dirt canyons. It was dark when we got to the park. And the first thing we noticed, after the 9 hour drive, was the stars. They were so big and bright that they demanded us to look up and name every constellation we could see. You could even see the light streak of the Milky Way in the sky! We all awoke in a Canyon, surrounded by massive red cliffs, speckled with small green brushes.
The first day was for training. We learned how to use all the tools need for rock work — grip-hoist, rock bars, rifting hammers. It was clear this would be much different from the rakes we used so much at Government Canyon; the only thing that was similar was the red color of the decomposed granite we spread at GC. Another huge difference was the commute to work: a 2 mile hike up red cliffs, over a ridge to another canyon, that ended in a lush cave covered in ferns. We hiked our tools up, which was a demanding task no doubt. From heavy 6ft solid steel rock bars to 60 pound griphoist, we all scaled the trail exhausted — but ready to work. The work included 2 sets of stairs, a few water bars, and a few check steps. The first few days at the worksite were spent hoisting huge rocks to the site with grip-hoists. Then we all broke off into groups, to work on each rock project. We watched and learned from the different issues and success our crew members encountered on their portion – we were all within talking distance of each other.
The best things about this hitch were not just the beautiful commutes and breathtaking lunches (which made the whole endeavor of carrying the tools up worth it), but the conversations we had. Particularly in the absence of cell phone service and power, we established many methods to occupy our time. One of the most memorable was the creation of “Red-neck” names and slang. For a time in the hitch we only referred to each other by our certified redneck nicknames and only talked in the backwoods jargon that we created. All in all it was a incredible hitch that included magnificent views, valuable learning experiences, and hilarious comradely.
Cameron Neagli – Trails Across Texas Crew Member