I woke up around 4 in the morning and couldn’t get back to sleep because I was just too cold. So I left the tent around 7 and got to making something hot to drink with my breakfast. I wasn’t the only one getting ready for the day, but I did get to boil my water for hot tea before the rush – my breakfast didn’t otherwise need cooking. 

It took a while for everyone to eat and get ready to work. We got started after the sun came up, bringing with it the heat. Funny how it can be freezing and then stiflingly hot ten minutes later. 

I started my work day working with another woman and the crosscut saw. I had gotten a refresher course on the crosscut the day before, but I learned even more on this day. 

See, our first log went fine, but the second one began to make this really loud squeaking noise. Turns out, that’s the noise the saw makes when you bend it too much. Kind of like how a singing saw works, actually. So we were schooled in proper positioning and made our way through two large logs (four cuts) before ceding the crosscut to another group and switching things up. 

Good morning, Caton Meadow!

Let’s get to work!

This log’s just begging for the crosscut saw.

I lopped branches that were encroaching on the trail, helped uproot a bush, uprooted several more bushes, moved rocks, graded trail… So much work to do! But it went very quickly with 8 women. 

At one point, a hunter came hiking by. He seemed like he appreciated the work we were doing. 

I made sure to stay hydrated, and that helped me work better. I also had to disappear a few times to dig a hole, which was a good thing in that my digestive system was moving, but felt awkward. Plus, the spot I chose as my regular hole area was a long walk across the tall meadow grasses, so it was an exercise just to get there. 

Near the meadow, we completely reworked the trail. Essentially, we created trail where none was before, because there was no indication remaining of where the trail had been originally, before the fire. One woman actually had a GPS with the old map’s route, but we couldn’t overlay that onto the current terrain. 

I was not feeling super energetic, again, but I did what I could. Including standing around and looking pretty. 

No, really, standing was one of the jobs I volunteered for. See, in order to make the trail, we needed to make sure there were good sightlines from the new trail to the bridge. So I got to stand while another woman walked ahead and evaluated where she wanted the trail to go. Then we moved forward and marked out the next section until we had a good route. 

Choosing the reroute.

We marked the future path with flags (little red thing upper left corner).

Then it was just a matter of clearing it up.

And defining the part through the grass to the bridge.

Then I got to work grubbing out bushes along our new trail, while others worked on grading the new trail and shifting large logs around to accommodate our new path. 

By early afternoon, we had a whole new section of trail and it was time to cross the meadow. The trail cut right across the meadow, but not in a discernible way. The grasses completely covered what might have been the trail. But if you set off directly from the bridge, you’d basically get to the trail on the other side of the meadow.

On the far side of Caton Meadow, the trail was in decent shape. A good amount of deadfall, but the trail was clearly there. While some others went ahead towards the saddle, I stayed low and worked on deadfall with another woman. 

Hiking across the meadow.

Some of the logs were trapped under other logs, making removal tricky.

We worked all the way to the saddle.

But then it was time to head back to camp.

I did end up hiking up to the saddle to see what I could see, but I didn’t stay long. Just long enough to see that there were a lot more downed trees to cut between the saddle and the lake. 

Then it was time to head back to the campsite and rustle up some dinner. 

After dinner, we had to talk about the plan for the next day. Now, there were two options. Option one was to go do some more trail work for a few hours and then hike out. Option two was to just hike directly out. I did not want to do more work, because I needed to drive home after, and I was already tired from the last two days of work. Plus, backpacking out was going to be work in itself. 

I’m not, historically, good at demanding what I need. But this time, I put my foot down. I was not going to work the next day. Other women really wanted to work the next morning. By the rules of the trip, no one would be going to the trailhead alone, but we could split up. Which meant that I needed to get at least one other woman to come with me, or the whole group would have to come with me. 

I remember sitting around the fire ring as the sun was going down when the trip leader asked for a show of hands of who wanted to do more work and who wanted to hike out. My hand went up to hike out and I waited. Looking around at the women who wanted to do more work, and, I hoped, the women who wanted to hike out but were afraid to say so. 


Hoping that someone would follow me so I wouldn’t be dragging people who didn’t want to leave away. 

One hand joined me. 

I sighed with relief. 

And then another one joined! 

I was hoping my hair would stick up in more of a mohawk in this shot, but I still think I’ve got my album cover, should I ever release any music 😉

I repitched my tent to make the bathtub higher, in the hopes of being warmer in the night.

Behold! Trail where none was mere hours before.

Sunset through dead trees.

When I got back to my tent for the night, I pulled up a topo map on my phone to take a look at just how far it would be to Caton Lake. Because I did empathize with the women who wanted to get to the lake. 

But I’m so glad I didn’t back down, because Caton Lake is 1000 feet below the saddle. So if we actually got to the lake – working all the way – we’d then need to hike back up 1000 feet, then down to the meadow to pack up and backpack out. That was not something that I felt ready to do. 

Even though I did drink a hot tea before going to bed, I was still cold. And, again, I woke up cold in the night.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *