I helped build the PCT Snow Creek section
In 1980 I was a Nordic Ski Patroller at the Lake Placid Olympics. I had met Bruce Bell, another Nordic Patroller, at the 1979 World Cup Pre-Olympics and discovered he and his two brothers owned Bell Brothers Trail Builders. So in 1980, after the Olympics, I convinced Bruce to hire me to work on the then under-construction PCT.
I flew out to LA, met Bruce, got a week's worth of grub and went up near Wildwood and way back dirt roads to the trail camp beside Snow Creek.
We worked for CA laborer's wages which was then $12.90/hour. We all lived in our own tents, cooked breakfast and dinner on camp stoves, packed lunches and carried 1 1/2 gallons of water every day and worked like animals. Our tools were sledge hammers, picks, chain saw, Swedish gas-powered drill (for drilling explosive holes in rocks), steel lever bars and, in the non-wilderness area, "The Machine", a custom made tiny bulldozer with a 3 ft. wide blade.
As you can guess, at that pay rate the bosses worked our butts off. Work began at 7,500 ft and for a lowlander from Pennsylvania I took a week to become acclimated so I could work at a full pace.
It was sometimes hazardous work. Bruce and I narrrowly missed getting crushed by a rock avalanche of boulders the size of Volkswagens.
I never saw him so shaken. But we continued our work, albeit more cautiously.
So that's how I did my part in building the PCT. It was a rare experience for me and I returned to Erie, Pennsylvania a pretty tough character at the end of that arduous summer.
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