Today’s CM Profile is from Shawna Lemos.
I worked for the Y.C.C. (Youth Conservation Corps) the summer after my 10th grade year. We did a lot of front country work, hiking and team building. I remember clearing a piece of trail with my crew when all of the sudden a rag tag group of young adults came hiking past us. They had on packs and were carrying equipment and hiking faster than any one I’d ever seen! I found out that they were a part of the C.C.C. That encounter lit a fire in me and drove me to graduate high school and try out for the C.C.C. program.
I graduated from Clovis, CA. My family moved to Kentucky a week later and my boyfriend at the time went off to college in Oregon. I met with a C-1 in Fresno and requested the furthest area with the most intense work they had. I was excited to learn of an opening in Klamath, California!
When I arrived, we were called Comets and had separate housing quarters from the residents. We endured training by hiking, p.t. sessions, running up mountains and team building exercises. My feet were raw from issued boots and my body aches, but I loved the comradery and encouragement. Graduating from being a Comet felt good.
I ended up on Crew 5 with Phil Lafollete. (Shout out… Crew Fiiiivvve!) He taught me to be a fighter and not give up on a task. (I learned to build the best firepits, lol!)
My last C-1 through Requa (the name of our post in Klamath) was Terrance Johnson. He taught me leading doesn’t mean being first. He toughened me and trusted me. He lead through valuing people and seeing what they could individually offer the team.
While working in the C’s I was sent to leadership training in San Luis Obispo, took forestry classes through College of Redwoods (rip Tom Hunnycut) and was taught how to respond to state emergencies. I attained a class B license, became chainsaw certified (Thx “Chunky!”) and fell in love with going on Spikes. It was during those Spikes that I learned of the Backcountry Program with Peter Lewis (rip <3)
Being chosen to go to Backcountry turned my soulfire into a blazing bonfire. I was thrilled! Not only did I get to join the legacy of my fellow corpies before me, but I got to go to Kings Canyon National Park!
The summer of 98. My gosh, did I find out I had a lot of maturing to do! Living with a Crew of 15-18 people for 5 months exposes a person’s strengths and weaknesses. I learned a lot about myself that summer. I was pushed physically, emotionally and spiritually beyond anything I could have imagined. I enjoyed nature from its ugliest to its fullness in what it could offer. Our C-1 was top notch along with the very seasoned crew from the national park service. It was a time that grew me.
I left the C’s shortly after my return from backcountry. I was engaged and missing my family in Kentucky. Some of the bonds I made with the people I lived with and worked with are eternal and I am so grateful for the time that was given to me during 1994-1998.
Shawna also shares a few entries from her journal written while with the Youth Conservation Corps, working in Yosemite National Park.
Yesterday was our first real work day. It was a welcome change from watching safety videos and learning all the rules. We installed 300lb bear boxes in Yosemite Valley! It was a team effort and we became acquainted with rock bars, shovels, wrenches and stencils. (The stencils were to spray paint numbers on) It made me feel like our work was important when campers and hikers would talk to us. Our group even encountered a bear! It was walking around a dumpster and totally tame. Although it was tempting to poke him with a stick, all of the safety talk came to mind and we refrained.
After dinner, me, Sondro and Star went sledding! It wasn’t hard to do because we were staying at a ski lodge. We had so much fun we decided to do it again tomorrow!
The 4.9 mile trail from Glacier Point to Nevada falls was pure joy! Every so often (near the top of the falls trail) a breeze would carry with it fresh smells and a crisp whisp of water. I’m soaked from jumping into a small stream. It’s chilly, but Grande! I feel happy and vibrant! I’m ready to take on the next 4.3 miles to half dome!
We decided to sleep outside tonight! I had Star to my left and Sondro and Chelsea to my right. We were dead asleep when I felt something next to my head. I thought it was Star so I tried to push her off my pillow….but it was furry! I heard a crunching sound muffled with some sort of grumbly snorts. It’s a bear. It’s definatly a bear! I crouched low into my sleeping bag and kicked Sondro. I told him what was going on and we formed a very brave plan to scare the bear away. We counted down….3.2.1. Scream!! Our yells woke up the whole camp who then pounded on dishes and screamed with us. That bear took off screaming too, haha! I then realized what the crunchy sound was. I had taken my new retainers out and set them next to my pillow. My teeth better not get snaggly this summer because a bear ate them
Kings Canyon ’98 t-shirt and grinning Corpie photos courtesy of Shawna Lemos.
Mountains and bear photos courtesy of the CCC and the 2017 Kings Canyon Backcountry Trail Crew.
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