Back in 2007, author Christine Byl sent a juicy little story entitled “Innard
Mongolia” to our fledgling blog. Today, we welcome Christine back to The
Cleanest Line with congratulations on the publishing of her first book, Dirt Work: An Education in the
Woods by Beacon
The first half of Dirt Work is set in
Montana's Glacier National Park. This excerpt, from the second chapter, finds
the novice traildog out with a new crew in the Middle Fork district on
Glacier's west side.
One of my first days in the Middle Fork
resembles my firsts nearly everywhere in Glacier: out of my element, eager to
get in, following along quietly until the former state gives way to the latter.
This particular day found my own crew leader sick and me shipped off for the
day with Brook and his Middle Fork guys to get a jump-start on the heavy
clearing in the Coal Creek burn. I knew Brook by reputation only.
Thirty-something, wiry, hyper, and flat-out hilarious, Brook was at the center
of some of the most outlandish pranks and stories in the trails canon. He was
drawn to drama, calamity, and excess. Brook loved attention. If he was on a
search and rescue, he’d end up on the local news, and you could see why. He
told a monologue worthy of a one-man show, complete with pantomime and
imitations. He teased until the butt of the joke was ready to throttle him,
stopped just before he was resented. His crews worked hard, hiked hard, drank
hard, laughed hard. I was eager to see him in action.
[Above: Fording Riley Creek. Photo: Gabe Travis]