The Gold Six crew: NCCC’s impressive months on the PCT

This piece was co-written by Reba Berg, a member of the Gold Six NCCC team who also acts as the team’s Media Relations Specialist. Reba hails from the great state of Minnesota.

While I embarked on a long distance PCT hike back in 2005, the overwhelming take-away for me was the incredibly supportive community that surrounds this gem of a trail. It is and was a sense of community that I had never experienced before — and that experience was strong enough for me to pursue a life and career on the trail. Every day still, I am enlightened by the random acts of kindness, the direct eye contact, the empowerment, and the shared challenge and success that binds us as one.

Preparing to fix some significantly trenched tread north of Fobes Saddle. The Mountain Fire caused significant damage, obliterating some sections of the PCT.

Preparing to fix some significantly trenched tread north of Fobes Saddle. The Mountain Fire caused significant damage, obliterating some sections of the PCT.

Over the past 8 weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to guide an AmeriCorps NCCC crew — Gold Six — through four different trail projects in Southern California. While “Community” is an inherent part of their program (NCCC = National Civilian Community Corps) this crew embodies that notion to the fullest: community is a mindset, a physical location, an inter-dependency.

Two and a half miles north of CA 74 the cew installed a cribbed rock landing to make a big step down more gentle.

Two and a half miles north of CA 74 the cew installed a cribbed rock landing to make a big step down more gentle.

While in Southern California, Gold Six made a difference in many ways both on and off the trail. In addition to eight hours a day swinging tools, the crew engaged in physical training exercises twice a week, and every evening involved team-building meetings and activities. They spent a good portion of their “off days” volunteering with other non-profit organizations located near the trail project sites. They spent a couple of days helping the rangers with grounds maintenance at Whitewater Preserve. They gave their time to the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission to help prepare food for those in need and to organize the food in storage. The team also served with the Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Phelan, Calif., where they cleaned and fed all of the farm animals, as well as restored six tiger cages and laid new rocks beneath the cages.

The entire crew posing, smiling (and chewing on the sign) at the San Jacinto Wilderness sign. Heidi Brill is on the far right.

The entire crew posing, smiling (and chewing on the sign) at the San Jacinto Wilderness boundary. Heidi Brill is on the far right.

The crew interacted with PCTA agency partners (BLM, State Parks, Forest Service), our volunteer section chiefs, PCT community volunteers, 2014 thru-hikers, trail angels, landowner partners, packers, nearby non-profits, and PCTA staff. It is this type of cross-interest outreach that really strengthens the network and community of the PCT. Thank you, Gold Six, for your dedicated effort to positively building the PCT community, for continuing to build skills, for engaging others, for embracing the mission, for helping where needed without being asked, for consistent smiles and laughter, for reaching out and asking questions, and for sharing the successes. The world is a better place because of you.

Kathleen, Kaylyn, Rashawn and Sephora speaking to and learning from rocks.

Kathleen, Kaylyn, Rashawn and Sephora speaking to and learning from rocks.

Gold Six Scorecard

This crew made their mark while “leaving no trace” of their work on the trail: Directly maintained 14.57 miles of trail between Rodriguez Truck Trail and Swarthout Canyon (a span of 277.8 trail miles). Completely re-worked 2.9 miles of tread. Installed 75 new drainage dips, 14 new rock waterbars, and 78 check steps. The crew removed 60 gallons of trailside trash, built 346 feet of new trail, constructed and installed 28 restorative wattles, and built 586 square feet of rock cribbing. They walked a minimum of 99.5 miles to and from these projects and experienced one desert rainstorm event, shooed out 10 black widows, one tarantula, several raccoons & a host of scorpions.

Kathleen Griffin sawing a timber to prepare it for placement on the trail.

Kathleen Griffin sawing a timber to prepare it for placement on the trail.

“..to you they should be beautiful chances..”

Mickaala Rodriguez: “In life you have to take chances, they may be ugly chances in other people’s eyes but to you they should be beautiful chances, because they make you.”

Peter Mandych: “Everyone from the Pacific Crest Trail Association with whom we worked consistently displayed a high level of professionalism, technical skill, and knowledge of the project area. Most importantly, the staff at the PCTA approached their job with enthusiasm and treated their coworkers compassionately. It was a pleasure working with the Association, and I would not hesitate to do so again in the future.”

Kathleen Griffin: “Working on the trail gave me a better sense of living in cooperation of nature.”

Reba Berg: “I will never forget this experience and the impact that everyone had on me.”

Sephora Fadiga: “Working on the PCT made me more passionate for environmental stewardship, as well as created a new passion for herbalism.”

Mike, Peter, Kevin and Rashawn moving a large rock as a team above Snow Creek.

Mike, Peter, Kevin and Rashawn moving a large rock as a team above Snow Creek.

nccc

 

NCCC is a program for young adults age 18-24 years. The NCCC mission is to strengthen communities and develop leaders through team-based national and community service.

 

 

Author: Heidi Brill

As a PCTA Technical Advisor, Heidi brings her expert skill set up and down the trail to educate and oversee trail maintenance and reconstruction. She spends most the year inserted into the corps crews that work on the trail. Heidi is also a seasoned long-distance hiker.