Sierra Clubbers

One thing was for sure about Yo2—we never got into any ruts with only one particular type of work. Except for maybe The Mound, of course!
At the end of August, a ranger-led group of Sierra Clubbers set up camp right by the High Sierra Camp. These were motivated outdoors lovers who had signed up and paid a lot of money to go camping and do some trail work. How many times during the summer had each one of us said “I can’t believe someone is paying me to be here and do this”? Now here were people who had paid top dollar to do exactly what we were being paid to do.

Well…not quite.

Russ Tenaka was the Backcountry ranger in charge of this Sierra Club group. Russ had been around our camp a lot on his patrols. Everybody liked him. He was a high school science teacher in the off-season. He had a great sense of humor and a lot of Backcountry experience. He knew Peter Lewis from way back. After he had gotten the Sierra Clubbers set up in their camp, he came down to our camp to talk to Erin and Moose. He wanted to borrow one Corpie a day for a few days to help him supervise the Sierra Clubbers. Erin and Moose thought it was a great idea. I got to be the first one to go.

The next morning I met the Sierra Club group behind the High Sierra Camp at the top of the trail heading east between Fletcher and Vogelsang peaks. Before we started work, Russ took me off to the side for instructions.

“OK, George, I know this is going to go against the grain of everything you’ve been trained to do, but I want you to do as little actual work as possible.”

I laughed. Russ laughed.

“Seriously,” he continued. “These folks have paid a lot of money to be here and work. I want to make sure they get their money’s worth. Your main job is to make sure nobody tries anything too heavy and gets hurt. We are just going to be doing light maintenance…rocking the trail and cleaning out water bars. I’ll be in front. You bring up the rear. Just keep an eye on people and make sure they don’t get hurt, and maybe do some final touch up as we go down the trail. Can you do that?”

“You bet! Do as little actual work as possible. I can do that!”

Russ laughed. I laughed.

It turned out that doing as little as possible was harder than it looked. I spent time showing people the best way to dig out drains with their shovels, or helping older folks wrestle big rocks out of the trail. I kept wanting to jump into ‘assholes-and-elbows’ mode and make it five miles down the trail. I had to patiently watch and wait and small talk with some genuinely good people.

It was an awesome day to be in the mountains!

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Categories: Backcountry, CCC, Vogelsang, Yosemite | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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