Caution: Scenery- and work-project-heavy post ahead.
Thursday was the last day of work for the SCC crew – a short amount of time for a big – steep – job.
The day started with some clouds, cleared to sunshine, then returned to clouds. (More) Rain started Thursday night. (Have we been blessed by rain the last couple of weeks or what?!) So the crew had good conditions for their final day of work on Spring Creek Basin’s southeastern boundary fence.
Let’s start with a scenic overview. There we were, on the basin’s far southeastern boundary looking southwestish over the basin’s “last” drainage toward Disappointment Road, the cottonwoods along Disappointment Creek and to more pinon-juniper covered BLM land beyond the basin to San Juan National Forest Service land to the horizon. Note the two groups, both working on H-braces on the near ridge – aka “the steep hill.” If you click to make the photo larger, you may be able to see the silver fence at the left; that’s the part of the fence that the crew already had rebuilt. It runs into the fence rebuilt by Mizzou students (we left a section for the students to work on in the spring).
Next, let’s take a look at the sad old fence that serves as an example of what the Mizzou students and the SCC crew have rebuilt and are rebuilding. We figure that fence has been around for 40 or more years.
Toby and Zoe tighten another wire strand to a corner H-brace. Their rebuilt fence comes in from straight ahead, up from the arroyo shown in the previous post; the steep hill starts steps to the left.
Meanwhile, up the steep hill (hey, it really IS steep), Aaron and Eric dug holes for another H-brace. If you look closely, you can see the H-brace Toby and Zoe were working on below the hill at right.
Photographic proof of the steepness (in a two-dimensional photo, it’s hard to convey just how steep this hill is): Sarah carries a post up the hill to the site of the next H-brace.
This photo does double duty: Partners Eric and Aaron measure the setting of an H-brace post with the cross post, AND you get another dose of scenery.
Toby and Sarah stand ready as Abby uses the post-hole digger to dig yet another hole for yet another H-brace on their journey to the top of the steep hill. Eric and Aaron in the photos above are below on the hill. The scenery here is part of McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area – which overlaps into Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area; in this view, it’s all wilderness study area.
Another view of the same H-brace site, this time with BLM range tech Justin Hunt helping to dig the second post hole. How steep is the hill? The H-brace Eric and Aaron are working on is 100 yards or less below this site – and completely out of view of this little knob in the hill.
From the side, here’s a view of Eric’s and Aaron’s H-brace. Abby and group are up the hill to the right. In the very first photo in this post, you can see both groups. Their rebuilt fence as it crosses the arroyo is very visible in this photo.
Another gratuitous scenery shot – ain’t it grand?
Returning to Eric’s and Aaron’s H-brace, now they have help from Sarah and co-crew leader Dillon to mark the first cross post. We had some debate about the levelness of these cross posts because the ground is so steep. Keeping the cross pieces strictly level would have had the post normal height on the downhill side of the brace but only about mid-thigh high on the uphill side! So crew members mirrored the slope a bit and cut their notches to reflect the angles of the posts’ ends.
It’s easy to ramble on about the partnerships we enjoy for the benefit of the basin’s mustangs, but here it is in living color: Dillon lends weight to Eric’s drill while he drills a hole in the H-brace into which he’ll later pound a spike. Ain’t it grand?! 🙂 Wrapping wires to create the “X” to further bind the brace posts together are Aaron and Sarah.
Sarah chips out the notch that will hold the cross posts even steadier in the vertical H-brace posts.
In case the steepness of “the steep hill” hasn’t been mentioned or illustrated clearly, these next photos should do the trick:
Co-crew leader Sarah carries an H-brace post up the steep hill. She’s passing the first H-brace, and she’ll pass the next H-brace before getting to her destination – and they had at least one more H-brace to build after that. Still all-smiles on Day 4!
Justin follows Sarah on the way to the second H-brace up the steep hill, where Dillon is making cuts to start the notching process.
And here’s Zoe carrying another post from basically the base of the steep hill (scroll back up to the beginning of this post and the H-brace where she and Toby were tightening a strand of wire).
From the bottom looking up.
And from down toward the arroyo looking up at the steep hill. Um, wowowow?! The wilderness study area’s namesake McKenna Peak shows its point at far right.
Sarah, Dillon, Eric, Aaron, Sarah, Zoe, Abby and Toby, we thank you, thank you, thank you for your service on behalf of our mustangs! We hope your last hitch of the season was your best. Thankfully, you saw some mustangs along the way between camp site and work site, and if you can, please come back soon to see more of the mustangs protected and kept safe by your work!
View from the top. 🙂