With a bright blue sky and stick of humidity, the ever perky, Crimson Crew members arrived as usual on Monday morning with the goal to get things done on our newest adventure. In the true spirit of a hitch to a new project we of course had to start with the obstacle of leaving the actual parking lot. Typically this part of the day is quite simple. We get the tools, grab the gear, stuff in our personal baggage and with the crack of a joke or smart comment we are off to do what good we can. This Monday decided it wanted to be difficult however, but after switching vans, trailers, and a 3D game of tetris we managed to head out.
2.5 hours or so later we arrived to one of the most breathtaking areas of Kisatchie we have been to. The forest of tall pines and scrubby undergrowth encircled a glittering, peaceful lake. It took but a few minutes to find Sonny, the camp host, who directed us to the plots he had reserved for our arrival and took a moment to talk with us while we settled in. One of my favorite parts about working with LaCC is the camping. Rain or shine, we have been very lucky to end up near beautiful places that make up for sleeping on the hard ground.
Our week started slowly. A morning of cleaning one of the soon to open recreation areas and bucking up some fallen trees. For those who dont know; bucking is the process of chainsawing a tree that is fallen into smaller, more moveable pieces (it is something we do to keep areas open to the public looking clean or clear pathways for trail users). Wednesday our task was similar, though at a boat ramp and involved a lot more trash pick up. PSA: there are usually trash cans in your park area and though sometimes inconvenient, the critters and people who use public areas greatly appreciate the effort you put in when going to the trash bin with your disposables instead of turning nature into a garbage can. In the afternoon we tottered off to more “strenuous” work clearing underbrush that was engulfing pine trunks. As Thursday gave way to a much needed thunder storm, we experienced the first taste of true conservation work in a sense. By this I mean we stayed out, and were drenched, until the lightning and thunder signified the storm was too close and we kicked those shrubs glutious maximi. We finished as the sun came out and the accomplishment I felt was gratifying.
Friday was the day to head home. Before we could, tents and personals had to be repacked, the trailer reorganized, and then the fire pits of every campsite cleaned. Arriving home to Baton Rouge, for me at least, is one of the more challenging parts of our hitches. Yes by the end I am grateful to have my comfy bed and my own shower and alone time, but coming into the city is such an experience of it’s own. From the tranquility and bliss of forest life to the meaningless urgency of the city. It’s a contrast. That is the greatest thing about this program though; getting to experience both sides of life here on our planet. Getting to do what little I can to try and make it better and getting to bring what I learn in the woods to my city life and being content with what I have and the time I have. Slowing down to experience everything at my pace. We unpacked, cleaned every tool used, and said our goodbyes for the weekend; that brief, but much needed, moment of time where life seems to be on pause now because we’re not out in the woods. Who can say what it is going to feel like at the end of our term, but that’s 6 months away so I am more than happy to enjoy the time I have left with my new family and keep doing good.
Brook Mize – Conservation & Disaster Crew Member