Dry Diggins Ridge Trail Clearing
Six members met at Windy Saddle Trailhead, 20 miles from Riggins ID, loaded up gear and stock and headed down the trail in the Seven Devils Wilderness to set up camp for a week clearing the Dry Diggins Ridge Trail. As is usually the case, the Windy Saddle Trail had not been cleared yet, so there were challenges going around and over trees as we did not want to leave the string of eleven standing in the trail any more than necessary. We did cut what was needed to proceed.
The meadow at camp was more of a swamp than a meadow with all the snow this past winter. The estimate was 200- 300 trees down on the 3.6 mile long trail. Comments went from eager to get it cleared to what in the world had we got our self into, on to we will never get it done as fatigue set in at the end of the first day.
We had two crews working with crosscut saws and used hand saws on the smaller trees. We were lucky that we could drag many of the trees off the tread after only having to make one cut. Motivation for day two was generated from the ice cold beer that we had packed in for happy Hour.
We had some fantastic meals every evening and hot breakfast every morning. Well, there was one meal that Rod will never live down. He put way to much water in the pancake mix. They were so runny that you could have drank them. Adding powdered coffee sweetener did not help at all. Billie did a great job of cooking them and Rod is not allowed to make pancake mix anymore.
Our days started at 6:00 am, on the trail by 8:00 am and back to camp to relax by 5:30 pm. Another motivator was that we had to ride a little farther every day to the work area and back, so less time hanging on to the saw handles. We were so lucky to be over six thousand feet in elevation as it was over 100 degrees in Riggins almost every day we worked.
After three hard days cutting and dragging trees out of the way, we could see that we were going to get the entire section cleared. Day four we all celebrated with the last of the cold beer after getting back to camp at 6:30 pm.
The work crews were fantastic, as everyone worked well together, all had their jobs and just kept their heads down until we finished.
The next day we took a relaxing loop ride to Dry Diggins Lookout, then Bernard Lakes and back to camp. What a blessing to only have to saw out six trees to make the loop. This was quite a change from the 120+ trees we had to handle the previous days. On the pack out to the trailhead members cut some more tree as well as other stock users had cut some of the ones that we crossed going in.
We noticed some gear over the edge of the trail about 150 feet down. Ardel went down and found a destroyed pack bag and two 50# bags of horse feed. There was no sign of fresh blood so we feel the horse or mule survived the fall. We met a string of 13 head and assume they were the group that had the mishap. Ardel packed one bag of feed and a canteen back to the trail. Not much of a reward for the pack up the rocky hill.