I took that job and flew out to Colorado that Sunday night.I had three connecting flights and the one coming in to Denver was the sketchiest one I've ever been on. A guy a few rows behind me started jokingly quoting Psalms "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." and I was like, seriously dude? But I landed safe and sound in Durango, stayed a night at the hostel and then started work the very next morning. So that was in the Spring, I was assigned to the Sustainable Forestry Crew and went through chainsaw training with the three other crews there. It was pretty sweet, I learned to run a saw and did it for the next 3 months. I fell many trees and got to learn some sweet techniques and so I was doing everything from fuels reduction, to hand thinning and invasive species removal. I struggled with everything at first, it was very hard physical labor and I was doing it at a higher elevation than I was used to. And I wasn't quite connecting with my crew like I had hoped. I turned out to be almost the oldest person there and the one other girl had the emotional intelligence of a 14 year old. Eventually I turned a corner after about a month of struggling and started to love it.
The way my job goes is this: the conservation corps that I work for gets contracted out by various state parks, cities, the forest service or what have you and a crew of about 8-10 gets assigned a certain project. Our first project, for example was fuels reduction on Dalla Mountain which was in Durango. So that involved taking out any ladder fuels (trees that would harm old growth native Ponderosa Pines and Pinion Pines) and spread fires easier and also any invasive species. Out west the fire season is brutal because its so dry and so this is one of the preventative measures taken in order to preserve and restore a natural old growth forest with native species. So after we get assigned we are on the project for a 10 day hitch. This means living out of a tent for 10 days, no showers, and hard labor from 7 am to 4:30-5 with one day off in the middle and the final 10th day being de-rig which means packing up all our stuff taking it to the farm and giving it a thorough cleaning before we store it for the weekend. So the communal living and lesss showers were the hard parts for sure. Especially since the longest ive ever lived in the woods prior to this was 3 days. And usually at music festivals, ha. But eventually it grew on me. And I decided to apply for their Crew Leader Development program and was accepted and so here I am again for the summer. This time Im on a summer crew with 5 other crew members and 2 crew leaders. We do hitches and work a more diverse array of projects and do leadership training after work everyday. Then when the fall season comes, we Co-Lead our own crews. Its so exciting, and I love it. But now I have to go bc its my last day off and I've already been on the computer for hours and theres still laundry and packing for our next hitch to do. Which is actually more chainsaw traning, woo woo!