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Horsepower continued

The puncheon was approximately 150 feet long and bridged a wetland area that was otherwise unsafe to cross with stock.

The location is on one of the most well-traveled trails in the South Fork, so public safety and resource damage were of utmost concern. In order to fix the problem the entire structure was removed and a new one assembled. This required a team of mules to

skid in larch logs for use as the sill part of the structure. Doing this using human strength was out of the ques- tion. So two mules, Punch and Judy, were brought in and neatly accom- plished the task in a few days. This provided both longevity to

the structure due to the rot resistance of the larch logs and greater efficiency of the crew’s time.

The Bob Marshall Wilderness is often times noted for its stock use. Although a large percentage of horses and mules that enter the woods are carrying a saddle with either rider or freight, it is the indefatigable nature of stock in harness that sets them apart on the work scale.

Finding and funding a crew of people that can provide the horsepow- er of two mules is a daunting task. It

Mule-drawn trail plows, then and now; photos from Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation

is the quiet, patient, and proud nature of both team and teamster that makes them an invaluable resource in the backcountry.

Chris Eyre from Stevensville, MT and his string of long ears are pictured here at the Monture Trailhead getting ready to pack up for another volunteer work trip. Photo courtesy of Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation. See more photos of Chris and his mules at

Learn more about the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation and its volunteers and Forest Service partners at www.

Interviewed in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation newsletter, Chris shared his feelings about being a Volunteer Packer:

My favorite experience is always the same on each trip. It’s that feeling about two miles after I start a trip.  all straight. Cinches snug. My mules  their ears are all flopping. Sitting on my horse with 15-20 miles in front of me.

Then that feeling washes over me and I remember that this is all so much - tle life. Just sitting there watching the wilderness unfold mile after mile and feeling so fortunate to be able to spend whatever time I can in there.

Connecting the wilderness in my heart with the wilderness out there, that’s my favorite.

38 FALL 2016

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