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Elk Creek Bridge Project 2019

        

Every project starts with a vision and goal. In late 2018 Dennis McDermott shared his goal to replace the 14-foot bridge that is used for access to Crane Meadows with the Boise BCH. Dennis's pictures showed how the bridge was breaking down and would probably not survive another year. After reviewing Dennis's photos and discussing the project with Charlie Jarvis, Recreation Manager for the Lowman Ranger District, the Chapter agreed to purchase the materials and install the bridge in 2019.

Dennis designed the bridge with his "do it once; do it right" perspective and with the intent that it would last several generations. In January, he picked up the materials from Stone Lumber in Nampa and went to work prefabricating and resealing all the decking. From March to May the Chapter waited impatiently for the year's record snowfall to melt and runoff to subside. With summer upon us, we set the installation date for Saturday, July 13; even then, Dennis made another trip to the site to confirm we could get there and that site conditions were good.

On Friday, the day before the project, Rob and Renee Price and Ann Hale rode to Bernard Lake. Rob noted there were plenty of trees to step over or go around, but they had a great ride and the fish at the lake looked hungry. On Friday evening 20 BCHI members representing 2 Chapters were treated to a heard of cow and calf elk calling across the meadow and bull elk bugling in the timber.

On Saturday morning we broke the previous night's commitment to a leisurely, after breakfast, start time. About 7:45 we moved the timbers and decking over to the trail-head where we woke up an "independent" horse camper and apologized for the invasion by our morning work party. We offloaded the timbers and transported them up to the bridge site. Dennis re-confirmed his outstanding planning by following up with the decking, a generator (to recharge batteries), drills, screws, and all the support equipment necessary to advance a small military expedition! On site, everyone helped out and the bridge came together without any problem. Dennis McDermott, Rob Price, Tyler Maasjo, Mike Carl, Brandon Breaux and Gary Petersen made sure the foundations were established and then squared up the bridge spans. Gary Hale AKA Chief Wannahawkaloogi kept us all on task and provided quality control while Paula McDermott manned the camera and organized the team photo. With the bridge spans in place, the 5-foot wide, pressure treated 2x12 decking was overlapped then screwed into place with 6 and 8 inch timberlock deck screws. By 11:45 the bridge was completed. Carrie Breaux, Mary Ann Robinson, Pat Petersen, Noreen Carl, Paula McDermott and Ann Hale provided the final inspection. We didn't break any champagne bottles, but Brandon Breaux performed the maiden crossing on his horse just as a small thunderstorm moved through the valley.

After lunch, folks took several hours to ride a loop up and around Crane Meadows and returned to camp. The highlight of the trip may have been the awesome swimming opportunity. Elk creek was a little cold but the horses and mules didn't seem to mind. Brandon Breaux, Rob Price and Tyler Maasjo all had their mules or horses in an 8-foot-deep pool of water. None of the animals were concerned and Rob and Renee Price's mules really seemed to want to swim. In traditional BBCH fashion, Saturday night we had an awesome potluck dinner with notable dishes like Mary Ann's chille rellenos, Breaux's beans, and Paula's chocolate zucchini cake (among many other dishes) that without some level of self-restraint, could easily result in founder or colic. 

For everyone that couldn't be there, we missed you and  hope you can join us on the next trip!
          
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