Shawnee Mules

by Jake Nelson The month started off in the Lusk Creek Wilderness of the Shawnee NF. The ERT team met the mule team which came from Hoosier NF in Indiana. The mules names are Paul, Ruth, Bell, and Jack the eldest, who is 30 years old! We also took pleasure in learning how to put saddles on the mules.

The first day on the Indian Kitchen Trail, Oliver and I loaded the mules with 6 tons of gravel throughout the day! I don't know if I should be more impressed with Oli and I, or the mules because they are the ones that transported all that gravel.

The month has been an interesting variation of job and duties, including packing the mules, doing trail maintenance, maintaining campgrounds, building and replacing picnic tables, and clearing trails. The work has been great whenever the weather permits it. Temperatures have ranged between the low teens to the upper 60s. Some variation huh? Oh, and the snow and rain have made their presences known.

February 2016 has been a hard month for conservation work but I have pushed my limits, learned a whole lot about packstock, and worked in the coldest environments I have ever worked in! Some great memories have been made and I will not forget this project!

Jake mastering the crosscut! Photo by Amital Orzech