The last hitch

A view into the valley from camp.

Having forgotten ice for our cooler during the last hitch, we find some snow at the end of a work day and bring what we can carry back to camp.

Our summer NCC crew, minus Young and Luke who took their remaining discretionary days before the NCC term ended. We're standing by completed tread (not pictured) in the Mount Rose Wilderness Area.

Assistance arrives

To lessen our weight burden when hiking miles to our camp location, the NCC managed to get us some pack horses to carry our food and kitchen supplies up the mountain. Unlike our food, we had to walk up the mountain.

The NCC crew meets the pack horses before parting ways up the mountain to our campsite.

After retrieving tools from our tool cache made during the previous hitch, crewmembers continue hiking up the mountain.

Dan, Dylan and Luke look into the valley towards Reno.

Treading to the Tahoe Rim Trail

NCC members hike to location where they will continue the construction of a trail that connects the Thomas Creek trailhead to the Tahoe Rim Trail.

Dylan Stiegemeier adds wood to a fire at camp.

NCC crews have been working on the Rim to Reno project for months. Because of the now extensive distance between the closest vehicle-accessible location and where we are now working, we are camping back country. Normally, when car camping, we would bring jugs filled with water in our trucks, but as a result of our remote location and the displeasure we experience at the idea of hiking 50-pound water jugs up a mountain four miles, we are instead filtering water from nearby streams. Here, Lucas French maintains the water filters to ensure we're getting a steady availability of water.

NCC crewmembers take a break to eat.

An NCC crewmember slides down a snow-covered area by camp in July. Snow on Mount Rose usually hits a peak at the beginning of April and then starts to melt off. That wasn't the case this year, which has been referred to as the snowiest winter in the last 25 years.

Sierra Nevada Wildflowers

We have been working outside of Thomas Creek for the past four weeks, building a trail that will eventually connect to the Tahoe Rim Trail. Having to hike about four miles to our back-country camp location for the hitch, we pass a lot of wildflowers. Below are some of them I've documented using a Sierra Nevada field guide.

Alpine Penstemon |  Penstemon davidsonii

Alpine Penstemon | Penstemon davidsonii

Applegate's Paintbrush (orange) |  Castilleja applegatei

Applegate's Paintbrush (orange) | Castilleja applegatei

Applegate's Paintbrush (red) |  Castilleja applegatei

Applegate's Paintbrush (red) | Castilleja applegatei

Bitterbrush |  Purshia tridentata

Bitterbrush | Purshia tridentata

Checker Bloom |  Sidalcea glaucescens

Checker Bloom | Sidalcea glaucescens

Crimson Columbine |  Aquilegia formosa

Crimson Columbine | Aquilegia formosa

Dwarf Chamaesaracha |  Chamaesaracha nana

Dwarf Chamaesaracha | Chamaesaracha nana

Elephant's Head |  Pedicularis groenlandica

Elephant's Head | Pedicularis groenlandica

Giant Mountain Larkspur |  Delphinium glaucum

Giant Mountain Larkspur | Delphinium glaucum

Granite Gilia |  Leptodactylon pungens

Granite Gilia | Leptodactylon pungens

Hartweg's Iris |  Iris hartwegii

Hartweg's Iris | Iris hartwegii

Heart-leaved Arnica |  Arnica cordifolia

Heart-leaved Arnica | Arnica cordifolia

Horsemint |  Agastache urticifolia

Horsemint | Agastache urticifolia

Peony |  Paeonia brownii

Peony | Paeonia brownii

Scarlet Gilia |

Ipomopsis aggregata

Showy Penstemon |

Penstemon speciosus

Sierra Nevada Pea |

Lathyrus nevadensis

Sierra Onion |

Allium campanulatum

Sierra Plum |

Prunus subcordata

Sierra Stickseed |

Hackelia nervosa

Snow Plant |

Sarcodes sanguinea

Soft Arnica |

Arnica mollis

Spreading Phlox |

Phlox diffusa

Spur Lupine |

Lupinus arbustus

Woolly Mule's Ears |

Wyethia mollis

Subalpine Shooting Star |

Dodecatheon subalpinum

Sulfur Flower |

Eriogonum umbellatum

Western Blue Flag |

Iris missouriensis

Western Wallflower |

Erysimum capitatum ssp. perenne

White Rein Orchid |

Platanthera leucostachys

Mount Rose Vistas

The early evening sun lights an alpine meadow in the Mount Rose Wilderness Area outside of Reno, NV. Mount Rose is the leftmost peak in this photo, at an elevation of 10,776 ft, the highest mountain by Reno and in Washoe County.

The crew begins a day of work on the Tahoe Rim Trail by Mount Rose. Snow is still present and several feet deep despite it being mid July. Reno is located in the valley visible in this photo.

Katie, a Harry Potter enthusiast, surprises us all by waking up in costume the morning of the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2. As we are in the middle of an eight-day hitch and she can't watch the movie until getting back to Reno, Katie is nonetheless excited about the day.

The crew works on building tread as part of the Tahoe Rim connection trail in the Mount Rose Wilderness Area.

At least this means we can sit down

Traditionally, towards the end of the hitch when we are done using our tools for the week, we perform tool maintenance. During an eight-day hitch like this one, multiple tool maintenance sessions are usually a good idea. Tool maintenance is also good for us mentally, as it makes the work day that much shorter. Depending on the tool, maintenance can include sharpening, metal treatment (with motor oil) and wood treatment (sanding and then linseed oil). Here, an NCC crewmember sharpens the edge of a polaski with a file.

Motor oil is rubbed on this mcleod to help protect it from rusting.

Luke puts a cover on this 8-foot perforated lance tooth crosscut saw.


Well-maintained tools make for happy crewmembers. Or at least, happier than they would be otherwise.

Camp life in the alpine forests

The crew eating dinner together at the end of a work day in the Mount Rose Wilderness Area.

NCC crewmember tents in our designated camping area. While not normally so close to one another, the frightening prospect of bears coming by at night convinces us to set up our tents near each other.

Crewmembers hike items up to the campsite, located over four miles from where our trucks are parked with a gain in elevation the entire way. Here we take a short break on trails the NCC built just recently before hiking the remaining distance.

The crew watches as our crew leader, Phil, attempts to throw a rope around a branch in order to secure our bear hang. Due to the hiking distance from our trucks to our campsite, the idea of carrying a bear box up is out of the question. Instead, we hang our food from a tree. Setting up bear hangs can be very, very frustrating.

Phil secures the bear hang. The bags go up at night and up during the work day. Down for breakfast and down for dinner.

Crewmembers try to catch popcorn from a Jiffy Pop aluminum pan gone awry after dinner.


Phil walks under one of the bear hangs.