The 2018 Backcountry Trails season got underway in April. All 97 Corpsmembers from around the country assembled at Placer Center near Auburn for a week of orientation. Orientation includes the processing of people into the CCC and AmeriCorps programs and the issuing of gear such as tents necessary to get through the season. Corpsmembers also receive basic training in some necessary skill sets they will need to successfully complete the season.
Some of the crewmembers are already in the CCC before the Backcountry program started. Many others were hired through the AmeriCorps program. The AmeriCorps hires need to be issued uniforms and boots that the CCC members already brought with them from their centers. All of the Corpsmembers, however, get busy as soon as they arrive with sewing new Backcountry Trails Program patches onto their uniforms. The first step for some of them in melding into a new crew is teaching one another how to sew patches onto a uniform.
The Backcountry crews start the season in real Backcountry fashion–by sleeping out in their tents on the Placer Center ballfield. Sometimes it rains during orientation, and the Corpsmembers then find out whether they have chosen a good raised spot, or a low spot in the field that holds water. This moment can sometimes be a Corpsmember’s introduction to field craft.
At the end of the week, the six crews split up to begin their summer on the trail. They went to Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks, Shasta and Klamath National Forests, and Big Basin State Park. Two crews actually work in Yosemite. The crew that started in the Klamath NF will also spend part of their summer in the Stanislaus NF. The crew that stated in Big Basin will move on to the Inyo NF.
We wish all of the Corpsmembers and supervisors a great summer, and look forward to seeing them all at the end of the season debriefing in September.