Pacific Crest Trail Logout

Despite warm summer-like temperatures, some of Oregon’s most prized mountain wilderness areas are just waking up from winter.

In the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness – prized for silence, solitude and stunning scenery – you won’t hear phones, radios or TV. Yet each spring, you may hear the unique raspy tones of cross-cut saws at work across large trees that have fallen across the trail. It is the sound of trail-keepers who give their time and labor so hikers and campers have an easier way.

They are volunteers with the Pacific Crest Trail Association who move the trees that fall across the PCT each winter. “Often, one tree will come down from wind or snowfall and it hits another,” said crew leader David Roe. “And that one hits another and then another, so we frequently find jumbles of trees – like a jigsaw puzzle -that must be taken apart and moved off the trail.”

This section of the PCT runs through a designated wilderness so mechanized tools like chain saws are not allowed. The crew uses only hand tools, like axes, brush saws and century-old cross-cut saws to do the work.

Justin Popov said the large two handled cross-cut saws require teamwork: “There is a rhythm as you work with another person; kind of a push-pull back and forth. It’s kind of an endurance thing, so we stay slow and steady. Eventually, you make your way through the log.”

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