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Indian Meadows Guard Station

by Jon McBride |

The following is an excerpt from 2007 Trail Maintenance Newsletter:

Indian Meadows Guard Station
By Monroe "Spud" Dejarnette (Missoula '49)

The word "scenic" doesn't do justice to the beautiful canyon and valley that unfolds along Highway 200 east out of Missoula. At Potomac, the crew enjoyed working briefly on Don Courtney’s (Missoula '56) tree thinning project as we achieved 100 percent certification in the handling of chain saws. After creating –and leaving – a big mess for Don, we gathered in Lincoln for the Forest Service prep and then the long dusty road to Indian Meadows.

What an unexpected sight! Rebuilt in 1992, the cabin has all of the charm and style of the old stations but in new clothing. We settled in quickly, bright mountain tents blooming as each of the crew claimed suitable bed ground.
Anne Rienhart (Associate) from Condon cooked for us and we ate camp breakfasts like we recollected from our younger years in the F.S. Lots of hot coffee as we gathered around the cabin each morning to enjoy as much in the way of eggs, bacon, sausage, and hot cakes or French toast as she could stuff into us. Suppers were well prepared tasty feasts cooked to replenish our empty bellies after spending our days working trails or clearing slash and hazard trees from the station grounds.

Paul Wilson (Missoula '50), 81 years young, inspired the lot of us. Lean and with muscles like steel wire, Paul's ability to work and hike kept us younger malingerers on track throughout the week. Besides, he had a lifetime of good stories from the Nez Pierce Country. Speaking of tireless guys, on the trail Jim Lee (Missoula '77) always gave us other boys a jump start, digging into a big, fat job before we could get a pulaski into our hands. He said he was inspired by the people he was around.

Wendy Kamm (Missoula '82), Montana’s premiere game warden, provided lots more energy as well as down-to-earth know-how. Her stories of encounters with Montana's independent-minded hunters and fishermen kept us entertained. We were lucky to have her on board. Charley Brown (McCall '56) had us enthralled around the cabin porch in the evenings with Robert Service’s "The Cremation of Sam Mc Gee" and more. Besides, he was one hell of a cheerful worker.

Creativity always marked Associate Rod Gross's contributions to the crew. An engineer, he looked at a job with an eye toward method and result. A tireless hiker, Rod undertook a trip with Paul and Jim to see if, during the week, we could possibly complete a good sized bridging project that required a solid six-hour round trip hike out of the station. He concluded that a spike camp in 2008 would be best.

Associate Rich Johnson, a retired USFS Ranger, provided a lifetime of experience and advice on trails and the workings of the agency. Rich also kept a running tally of our accomplishments even as he cleaned drainage bars. I had a great time just keeping up, hiking, cutting, digging, and carrying.

Back at the station part of the crew had bucked 11 downed trees into firewood, inspected and repaired 1.2 miles of pasture fence, fixed the stock tank and pasture gate and cut the tall grasses surrounding the cabin. In the cabin one mouse was fearlessly tracked and dispatched.

For a day or two we stared at an empty flag pole until patriotism demanded that our country’s flag fly proudly above our station. Forthwith we lowered the pole, installed the missing halyard, elevated it, and raised the Stars and Stripes with proper ceremony. The station was complete.

The last bit of work on Trail 481 involved carrying yards of tread material in collapsible water buckets to rebuild the trail surface along a quarter-mile causeway called "The Turnpike." A couple of backpacking parties and a horse outfit traveled the trail that day. Their applause gave truth to the notion that we are contributing to a good cause.

In all, the crew cleared about 20 miles of trail to Forest Service specs, providing drainage and improving tread along the way.

Our ramrod, Barry Reed (Missoula '60), kept us on line for five days – no easy task! He had responsibility for seeing that we were all captured, trained, lined out, and safe. Since we all left the station in one piece without more than a little moleskin on a blister he was successful.

This article appeared in the latest NSA Trail Maintenance Newsletter which was just released. If you would like a copy, email Jon McBride at n2601@aol.com and he would be glad to send one to you.