… in the Sky Lakes Wilderness of the Southern Oregon Cascade Mountains

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a long distance hiking trail that stretches from the Canadian Border along the Mountains of Washington, Oregon and California and through the Mojave Desert to Mexico. Every Year many hikers attempt to hike the entire trail from Mexico to Canada in one season, but only a fraction succeeds. The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) is the main organization responsible for the maintenance of the trail system and is supported by almost all unpaid volunteers. Due to several winters of high snow falls and strong winds the trail in the vicinity of my home town of Klamath Fall in southern Oregon was and still is in dire need of some maintenance work. It is littered with hundreds of fallen trees of sometimes sizable diameters. Scrambling over and around these fallen trees makes live hard for the great number of hikers.   As a member of the PCTA I am helping with the work of clearing the fallen trees away from the trail. The trail winds its way through many designated Wilderness Areas. In these sections all use of mechanized equipment is prohibited. That includes the use of gas powered chain saws. Therefore all the work has to be done with hand tools and antique hand saws. These saws are operated by one or two persons. They are between 4.5 foot (one person) or 6.5 Foot (two person) long. The PCTA puts on yearly classes to be certified I using these sharp and somewhat dangerous instruments. I am a “Certified Sawyer” since spring of 2017 and purchased my own saw from a local antique shop. It was very rusty and neglected when I bought it. But after a lot of cleaning and a good sharpening by a professional saw sharpener from Idaho it is as good as new and cuts very well. Every year after the winter snows disappear the local chapter of the PCTA organizes one day or multi-day work outings. Often we have to hike fairly long distance just to get to the sections of trail that need work. A typical work day consists of 8-10 hours of work including 6-9 miles of hiking. In addition of the saws we carry all necessary tools like axes, wedges, shovels, Mattocks as well as our food and water. The volunteers are from 18 to over 70 year in age and from all walks of live. There are retired persons, ranchers, students , construction workers etc. What they have in common is a love for the outdoors and hiking in particular.

About the Author: Michael Schaaf. Born 1955 in Bremen, Kreis Soest, Germany. Emigrated to USA in 1980. Registered Professional Civil Engineer, Oregon. Retired in 2016 from Oregon Department of Transportation. Married, two Children, two grandchildren.