Steep work, great views

31 10 2015

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.

Southwest Conservation Corps crew members build H-braces on a steep hill along Spring Creek Basin's southeastern boundary. From this vantage, one looks across the last drainage in the basin toward Disappointment Road.

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).

Southwest Conservation Corps members are replacing this fence along Spring Creek Basin's southeastern boundary.

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.

Southwest Conservation Corps crew members Toby and Zoe finish an H-brace at the base of the steep hill to along Spring Creek Basin's southeastern boundary.

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.

Southwest Conservation Corps members Eric and Aaron dig a hole while building an H-brace on the steep hill on Spring Creek Basin's southeastern boundary.

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.

Southwest Conservation Corps member Aaron watches Sarah carry an H-brace post up the steep hill on Spring Creek Basin's southeastern boundary.

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.

Southwest Conservation Corps members Eric and Aaron check the cross post while building an H-brace on the steep hill on Spring Creek Basin's southeastern boundary.

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.

Southwest Conservation Corps members Toby, Sarah and Abby take turns digging a hole for an H-brace post on the steep hill on Spring Creek Basin's southeastern boundary.

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.

BLM range tech Justin Hunt helps dig a post hole for an H-brace on the steep hill with SCC crew members Toby and Abby on Spring Creek Basin's southeastern boundary.

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.

The fence the Southwest Conservation Corps built. Up the hill in the foreground and across the small drainage in the lower background, beyond the photo, the crew left a section for the Mizzou students on alternative spring break next year.

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.

Southwest Conservation Corps members rebuild the fence up a steep hill on Spring Creek Basin's southeastern boundary.

Another gratuitous scenery shot – ain’t it grand?

Southwest Conservation Corps crew members Sarah, Aaron and Eric help co-crew leader Dillon complete an H-brace they built on a steep hill on Spring Creek Basin's southeastern boundary.

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.

Southwest Conservation Corps co-crew leader Dillon lends weight to the manual drill wielded by Eric as he drills a hole for a spike in the H-brace pictured. Aaron and Sarah, who dug the post holes, thread wire to anchor the braces on Spring Creek Basin's southeastern fence line.

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?! πŸ™‚ Wrapping wires to create the “X” to further bind the brace posts together are Aaron and Sarah.

Southwest Conservation Corps crew member Sarah uses a chisel to create a notch for a cross bar in an H-brace in Spring Creek Basin's southeastern fence line.

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:

Southwest Conservation Corps co-crew leader Sarah carries a post up the steep hill to build an H-brace in Spring Creek Basin's southeastern fence line. All smiles on Day 4!

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!

BLM range tech Justin Hunt carries a post up the steep hill behind SCC co-crew leader Sarah on the way to build a new H-brace above the one pictured, with co-crew leader Dillon, on Spring Creek Basin's southeastern boundary.

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.

Southwest Conservation Corps crew member Zoe carries a post up the steep hill to use as part of an H-brace along Spring Creek Basin's southeastern fence line.

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).

Southwest Conservation Corps crew members construct H-braces in the new fence along Spring Creek Basin's southeastern boundary. That steep hill is why they were hired!

From the bottom looking up.

Southwest Conservation Corps crew members construct a new fence along Spring Creek Basin's southeastern boundary. That steep hill is why they were hired!

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!

Beyond Spring Creek Basin in McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area: McKenna Peak at far left and Temple Butte toward the right. Outside Spring Creek Basin, they are two of the basin's most recognizable landmarks.

View from the top. πŸ™‚

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One response

30 11 2015
Karen Keene Day

Re reading the fence repair post again: unbelievable amount of hard work done , and so vital to keeping the mustangs safe. Thank you all.

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