Notes From The Field


Ancestral Lands Rock Climber Photo




March 10, 2016

Climbing is rad!  Today, we began a 5 week rock climbing training, through a grant that SCC was awarded from The North Face Explore Fund.  We will learn how to be safe while climbing, belay, top rope, and also learn good techniques for becoming rock all-stars. 



Carmelita 2.0


Letting go is never easy, and it would not only be a lie, but an insult to the memory of those who have left us to pretend that we can move on without feeling something. When you go through so much together, it’s nothing short of heartbreaking to think of life without your partner. I remember it like it was yesterday, when we met at orientation so long ago. She didn’t speak much, at all, but had an odd tattoo that read, “SCC #50”, and had a way about her that I had not seen before. I won’t lie, I was intimidated. How could I not be? When we started working together she was more intense than anyone I’d ever met, and I had no idea how to handle her. One of the biggest misconceptions of this kind of work is the relationship between the two workers. To the untrained eye, it may appear to be a master and tool relationship, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a partnership. On my first day, I had the quote from Full Metal Jacket on repeat in my head. “This is my chainsaw. There are many others like it but this one is mine. Without me, my chainsaw is useless. Without my chainsaw, I am useless.” She wasn’t just Saw #50, she was Carmelita. 


I was crushed. I’ve tried working with other saws, but it takes two to tango. You can’t learn everything with one partner, then all of a sudden change. Even if both sides know the dance, you need to have the timing down. Carmelita had it, whatever it is. #99 did not. #99 did not have a name, nor did #40, or any of the other ones. Well, they might have, but I didn’t care to learn them. They were not Carmelita. 


Then, one day, deep in the woods of Durango, I was handed a saw. I wasn’t entirely sure what we were doing there, although I suppose that’s how we all felt. Staring into the void of scrub oak, I missed Carmelita more than ever, but she would have wanted me to continue on, so I did. When I was handed a saw, #14, and revved it up, something felt right. It was a glorious day, and with a new partner, I, and the rest of the crew, looked our enemy square in the eye, and covered the ground with sawdust. Well, ribbons. Sawdust would have been a sign of poor chain maintenance. 


There will always be a part of me that misses the 440 with the #50 tattoo, but we all must move forward if we are to complete our mission. Watch out trees, because here comes Carmelita 2.0. 


Field Stoke Rap


Back in our home, at Pinkie Flagstaff

Im not a teacher, but ya'll can do the math-

Still building walls every dang day,

You know when we do it, da rite way.

Our homie Ty, we though he wuz dead,

But he came back day 3, staples in his head.

We lost our leader, due to illness

But she came back, cuz she da illest

Even though we were only le deep,

We fixed those switch backs, so they weren’t steep

2.5 walls, yeah we crushed that-

And those Aspens, we made a FAT stack. True

Made that cribwall, 4 tiers high

Bikers rode it, tear of joy they cried.

On our last night, a bear rolled thru

Got our breakfast bag, ripped it in two

That bear ate our grub, it wasn’t funny-

Good thing he couldn’t eat our honey.

This hitch was crazy but we didn’t show no fear

And ya’ll know why? CUZ WE OUT HERE.




Tree Crew Thoughts at the end of Five Months of working and living together in the Pike San Isabel National Forest, Colorado

This season has been… 

Full of beautiful mountain views, golden aspens, warm fires, good hikes and great company 

Amazing dinners, full of adventure, laughing around a fire 

Fly fishing sunsets, cold morning hands, the smell of spruce and fir 

Going to be missed, where we endured mother-nature, where I got to sled in June 

Old, wise, and peaceful. Loving, simple and honest 

Learning and growth 

Laughter, fires that give warmth 

My first home in Colorado, where I decided to go back to school, a sacred place to me 

Irreplaceable memories, time we will never get back, elusive bears 




River's Notes From the Field 

by Alaina 

The last nine days have been filled with 

Swinging axes and picks, 

Battling between whether or not rocks are our best friends or our worst enemies, 


Numerous unsuspecting insect bites, 

Also rock bites—a sausage of a middle finger and purple nail, 

Surprisingly amazing backcountry meals that made us fart and poop our brains out, 

Working long days in the hot hot sun, 

Miles and miles of hikes with the heaviest packs on, 


No wildlife sightings—what the heck! 

Pooping outside everyday, rain or shine, 

Loving pooping outside everyday, rain or shine, 

Dunking my head in the creek, 

Singing too many Disney songs, 

What felt like life-changing stretches, 

Waking up at the butt crack of dawn everyday, 

Gazing into the Milky way every night, 

Breathtaking views...or as we coined them, photos that don't suck. 

Waking up to the coyotes in the distance, 

No contact with the “real world”, 

Seeing a handful of people on the trail, which was way more than we anticipated, 


Our bear hang taking the role of a widow-maker at 10pm, 

Lots of laughter everywhere, whether on the trail, around the fire, or in the kitchen, 

Too much fun! 



Early Morning Woes



Art from the Field





MISSION: Tree Rescue. Shade Shelter Construction

Day 1 Log:

{To be read in the voice of David Bowie from “Space Oddity”}

< Commencing Countdown. Engines On. We have arrived on the terrestrial planet Earth – Middle Mountain Road, Colorado, 10,000 ft. After the apocalypse claimed much of Earth’s natural resources, the remaining faction of the U.S. Forest Service contacted our sector on the moon. We now scour the Earth with bushels of plastic shade shelters and stakes, hammering small vestibules around tiny saplings. Our galactic crew of eight, yellow-hard-hat-laden and optimistic, probe the barren landscape in search of what Earthlings call, Engelmann Spruce. It is a lonely job – one might say – just us, the fog, a few remaining deer and many burnt snags from the Missionary Ridge Fire. Sometimes the trees talk to us and say “thank you, moon friend,” whilst most times we are left with only the clack of thunder and the hum of a distant aeroplane. We successfully installed 5,000 shade shelters within 52.9 acres. We’re feeling very still, but we think our spaceship knows which way to go. SCC POST APOCOLYPTIC MOON CORPS departure scheduled for 06.16.15. MISSION COMPLETE. >



99 Problems

I Got 99 Problems But a Ditch Ain’t One


Russell had a very cool jeep

It could go up hills very steep

He was very much stoked

But then his fuel pump broke

And now it can’t even make a beep


There once was a man named Jack

He gave his pick Axe a wack

It was given to him

By Jo on a whim

And then he planned his attack


Drew was perturbed by a tick

And he didn’t want to get sick

He took off his shirt, not trying to flirt

But swoon wen the dudes and the chicks


Katie wears funky eye glasses

So she can’t be confused with the masses

Her stories and quirks

Are just some of the perks

If you ever are in one of her classes


Our project partner named Josh

Sure loved ditches by gosh

He said jump in the rig

And get ready to dig

Or else this valley’s awash



The Wrecking Crew

“Hannah, can you hear me? Hannah if you can hear me clap your hands.”

We, The Wrecking Crew, found ourselves in Utah’s canyon country for our third hitch. We would spend the next 15 days at the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument along the Escalante River removing the invasive Russian Olive Tree. Some people may think to their selves, “Why, why are these slightly attractive youngsters cutting down trees? Are they not a conservation corps?” Good question buddy. There are many reasons why the Russian Olives are being removed. The major/overarching reason is that these trees are negatively altering the riparian environment of the Escalante River. The non-native Russian Olive was originally introduced to the United States to combat erosion on stream banks. This noble action has had dire consequences though. Russian Olive competes and chokes out native species like cottonwood trees and coyote willow, promotes channelization of the stream, and its overhanging branches decreases water temperature, which harms native fish species.

               So when we arrived at our base camp we were ready to wage war on this communist tree. No mercy, no prisoners… The fight against the Russian Olive would prove to be a taxing affair. Cold dark mornings, wet boots, blazing hot afternoons, chainsaws breaking down, and Russian Olive thorns the size of Nebraska definitely helped build a little character. The hardships were easily outweighed by the benefits of our work though. Every time I fell off the steep stream bank into the bowels of the Escalante River, was stabbed in the jugular by an Olive thorn, or had to crawl through the intestines of a Russian olive stand, I thought to myself Mother Teresa lived her life to help and serve the less fortunate, Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life to bring equality to all men and women, and I slay Russian Olives for the sweet little river otters, towering cottonwoods, majestic trout, and most importantly to  restore the integrity of the Escalante River.