Members of the Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation are looking to recruit new and younger blood for their annual weeklong work outing to maintain the historic footpath.
But younger is relative. Chuck Raddon of Orofino, who spearheads the work parties that camp along the Lolo Motorway in late July, said he would be delighted to attract people in their 50s to donate their time and sweat along one of the most historic and scenic sections of the Lewis and Clark and Nez Perce national historic trails.
“Our target group seems to be empty nesters and retirees,” Raddon said. “We have a few folks still coming who are in their 70s now.”
The group helps take care of a 35-mile section of the trails from about Weitas Meadows to Saddle Camp, where pieces of the path first tread by Nez Perce people going to and from buffalo country in Montana and later by the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery are still intact. The group spends five days camped at No-see-em Meadows along the trail, plus two travel days. Each morning they rise early, eat a hearty breakfast, then head out with a sack lunch and armed with loppers and handsaws.
The bulk of the work entails moderate hiking while clipping encroaching brush and sawing out small-diameter trees that have fallen across the trail. They also help maintain signs and a few outhouses.
“It’s somewhat challenging,” said Geoff Billin of Moscow. “As a result, the people we are looking for should be willing to put in that time, but at the same time we are not looking for superheros. It is doable by the people who have been doing it the last 10 years, and many of them are of retirement age.”
The trails follow heavily timbered ridges that separate the Lochsa and North Fork of the Clearwater rivers and include impressive vistas such as the Smoking Place with views of the distant Selway Crags. Wildflowers and bear grass are in bloom during the work week; huckleberries are ripe and meadows are lush and green.
It all combines for a pleasant outdoor work environment. Each day after the trail chores are done, participants have dinner and sit around the campfire where Lewis and Clark and Nez Perce history is a frequent topic of discussion.
This year’s trip will run from July 24 through July 30. Raddon said it’s best if people who would like to participate stay for the entire week, and because of the rough nature of the Lolo Motorway, four-wheel-drive and high-clearance vehicles are recommended. The road is not suitable for campers or trailers.
Food is provided, but people should have their own camping gear and good rain gear is recommended. More information is available at http://bit.ly/2PjhXZQ or by contacting Billin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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