Doe Notes: the diary of a 2019 intern (PART 3/5)

Read Part 2 here

for the Siskiyou Hiker by Leah Doeden, 2019 intern; Photos by Trevor Meyer

Doe Notes are a five part installation of field notes taken by 2019 intern Leah Doeden. They are unedited and include strong language. In the third installment of Doe Notes, Leah gets attacked by ants, falls in a creek, sees a bear, gets lost, and sheds some tears. You can follow Leah’s Instagram account: @leahdoeden


Day 1

Long ass hike. Very heavy pack due to bringing more good food. I better freaking eat it all. Day old McDoubles are way better than day old McChickens. Carried the double for a long way. Got to the mosquito camp from day three of last hitch. Started losing my shit and crying a little bit. My kryptonite=mosquitoes.

Made it to the final creek crossing of the day. Looked down at my arm, saw some mosquitoes feasting on me. Decided in my agony to go super-fast on the crossing.

Bad call. Fell in! To 8 inches of water. Not just the feet. Entire pants. Rolled over in the water even. Fuck that. Cried.

Luckily somehow the only wet things are my boots and Carharts. Never do that again, it was dumb. Hard day.

Day 2

Slept like a baby. I have a concerning bug bite on my lower back, it is massive and hurts. Thought I might not wake up.

Sawed with Kalani all day. That kid is a good kid. He’s got my vote any day. Passed the goal today by a lot. I decided not to bring deodorant on this hitch after receiving criticism for it last hitch. I’m not bad smelling yet. Bites of trail mix without M&Ms suck. Carharts are dried. Dry refried beans from Winco rock. Need T-Bell sauce next time for sure. So good.

Day 3

Felt as though we were very productive today. Our goal was to make it five creek crossings and we did it. Starting to smell bad. Skeeters are awful. The moon was really pretty and bright last night, thought someone was shining their headlamp into my tent.

Day 4
Woke up to a freaking ant attack.

Fat giant ants. Crawling all over in my tent. They are very fast. At least fifteen of them.

I am very much hoping they got in when I pulled my shirt inside from the top of my tent this morning. Otherwise I have no fucking clue how that many got in here. I have examined my tent and have come up with no other plausible ways they could have. It really takes about ten slaps just to kill one of these fuckers. I keep thinking I get them all but another one appears.

Scared to sleep in here. Really want to move camp. I see the shadows of the fuckers outside my tent crawling all over it. Please God don’t let them know a way in here.

Work was good today, but I am dreading the big hill I know we will have to backpack up tomorrow. Kalani and I give each other lots of shit now and it really helps keep me going and keep the days interesting.
Hope there are less bugs at the next camp. Might hate ants more than skeeters now.

Really want to check my phone.

Almost halfway through the hitch. It has been going by a lot faster than last time. I think it’s because I look forward to eating all my good snacks I brought all day long. I also like our goal better this time, it seems a lot more measurable.

I have been really winning with my meals this go around. Grits, bacon, and cheese is my specialty. Might bring deodorant again next hitch.

Please God, keep the ants away. Thanks.

Day 5

Feels great to be halfway done. We made it to the top of the ridge. Longer day than expected. The ridge is pretty.

Day 6

Today we made it to the junction where the West Fork meets the South Kelsey. We called this project the “Knob Job” which was pretty funny. Took a break at Willis Hole, which is a meadow with lots of cool plants. I saw a Shooting Star flower which I think is one of my new favorites. Also opened one of those weird green carnivorous plants and there was for real tons of bugs in it. Nasty. We spent a lot of the day hand sawing in the strange Dr. Seuss looking dead forest. There was actually like half a mile of just burnt curled trees.

Trevor said we probably hand sawed 500-1000 trees out of the trail. After work was treated by Ryan Ghelfi with airheads, blueberries, and strawberries. Tasted great. Cameron made a comment about not being soft anymore, when moments prior he had just asked when we get back that we go get ice cream from an ice cream parlor (emphasis on the parlor). Pretty sure that is a fairly soft request. Gas station ice cream is fine by me. Thought it was funny.

Day 7

West Fork is almost all clear! There is still the massive log you will have to climb under. I really don’t want to leave that one but it is really big. The ridge is very, very pretty. Hope to maybe return one day in many, many years. Today was me, Cameron, and Trevor on the double. We finished sawing the rest of the logs. No logs left behind. Finished by 3:30 even!

I am pretty sure Cameron and I have made the hike up to the ridge the most out of everyone. Three days in a row. Some people never even got to go past the ridge. Trevor said me and Cam were his favorite interns.

Bacon, cheese, and grits are a must have on the hitches. Bring more! I do not regret bringing lots of food. I believe I aced the food department this time. This hitch is flying by. Plan is to camp at wilderness falls tomorrow, real exciting. I honestly don’t even care about deodorant anymore. I don’t even stink that bad.

Day 8

“I could totally stay out here longer” I said to Haleigh this morn. I could do it. Fuck skeeters though. Missing the phone a little bit. I’m getting pretty good at the whole camping and backpacking grind, which is something I really wanted to do this summer. It is a cool life but I might take an extended break from hiking and walking for a while after this summer.

My feet are fucked up. Big juicy blisters and dirt everywhere. Today we ended up getting the massive log out. Glad we can say the West Fork is entirely clear. Otherwise I might not be resting so easy. Realized me and Kalani are like twins. We got the green helmets, same Carharts, oboz, red bandanas, and Osprey packs. We are going to get matching Bear Grass on the Bare Ass tattoos. Kalani is my fav person on the crew. Even though he ripped ass way too close to my face during his lunch nap.

The clear creek trail to wilderness falls gets longer every time I swear. There’s way too many bugs on that trail. Hopefully this is the last time I have to hike it. I seriously had to put on my safety glasses to stop bugs from hitting my eyeballs. Also, don’t ever cook gravy again, not worth it, leave it, burned the shit out of my pot. Applewood bacon potatoes are great.

Got to clean off in wilderness falls today. My legs were unrecognizable. Super hairy and black with dirt. Who is this wilderness Leah? I must have detoxified my armpits of deodorant at this point because I really don’t smell that bad at all.

There was a rattlesnake sighting today at the creek crossing I fell into on day one. Had I seen it I might have just lopped it in half.

Got a great camping spot just past wilderness falls. So many flat tent spots. Day eight already, it is crazy how fast this hitch went.

Day 9

Coming to you a day late due to a series of unfortunate events. Yesterday was a wild dumb adventure. Started the work day trying to conquer the big ass logs on the Clear Creek. Gave up. She was just too dang big. Hikers may enjoy the spice of crawling under the log. Maybe not, but they can deal with it.
At least the West Fork is entirely clear.

Finished work early and spent the rest of the day at wilderness falls and moving camp to Trout Camp. Got there feeling good and was excited to continue on and make it to Devils Punchbowl. No one wanted to go, so I went alone. Ended up taking the advanced scenic route to Devils Punchbowl.

The advanced route included missing the terribly marked junction because of my hiking blackout tendencies. Completely walked right past it without batting an eyelash. Continued for about a mile and a half until I came to a sign for Buck Lake. I was thinking Haleigh is a liar this hike is way longer than she said, where the fuck is the Punchbowl. So, help me God.

Had I not turned around and noticed a sign to Devils Punchbowl right behind me pointing in the opposite direction, I might have kept going even. Fuck.

Decided to hike back to find it. I was going to see the stupid Punchbowl if it killed me. Sun going down now.

Found the stupid trail junction, seems really obvious when you know it’s there. I stress hiked really really fast up all the switch backs. Saw some Australian sounding hiker who I startled and he totally biffed it coming down the steep trail. Haha. It kept me going and in a better mood. Ran into Trevor who had been there for a hot minute waiting for me, even though I had left way before him. He was headed back to camp, because the daylight was melting away fast. Glad to have found him.
Ran/walked quickly to the Punchbowl.

When I saw it I knew the three mile detour had been worth it. Awesome. Amazing. Had a cup of tea and a good moment. Would have made my dinner too if I had had a bit more daylight. It would have been great to eat there. I’ll be back.

Big ridges, rocks, and calm water.

I have faced a lot of fears this summer. One of which was night hiking back to camp. Was not even super scary. I was over hiking at this point. Anything that could have spooked me normally, would not have that night. I was fine. I got my good moment. Got back to camp and just threw my sleeping bag and pad on the ground hopped in and passed out. No dinner in my stomach. Eventful day. I can without a doubt say I covered the most miles this hitch out of anyone. No question.

Day 10

Hiking out. Saw a little bear! So cute. I like to think that if the bear would just hear me out and not run away, my puppy voice would be enough to lure him in and let me pet him. One of these days it might happen. Got more and more embarrassing when I realized how far I managed to pass Devil’s Punchbowl on the hike out. My goodness. Whatever though. It is what it is. Good hitch, having tons of great snacks made it way better.

Love the van, there’s some awesome songs on the radio right now. Ready for burgers at In n Out.
Oh by the way, the West Fork is open. No deodorant needed anymore. 


Read Part 4


Leah Doeden was a 2019 Wilderness Conservation Corps intern and 2024 Assistant Crew Leader. She’s from Silverton, OR. and a graduate of Oregon State University. 

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