When you think of a “staff retreat,” what images do you conjure? Chances are, you don’t envision splitting logs with sledgehammers and digging holes for fence posts…but that’s exactly what our Girls Garage Yosemite retreat entailed, and we loved every minute of it! We were delighted and honored to be invited back to Yosemite for a third time to volunteer with infrastructure projects (the first being rebuilding the timber fences in Wawona, the second repairing the roof of a ranger’s cabin). For two days, we worked with a frontcountry trail crew in Yosemite Valley. On the first day, we used sledgehammers and metal wedges to split large logs of felled California incense-cedar into posts and rails for fences.

For particularly “knotty” (get it?) logs, we broke out the crew’s electric chainsaw, but by and large, the labor was done using hand tools and a whole lot of grit.

On the second day, we worked on straightening and replacing crooked and rotten fence posts, a feat that included digging 48 holes (around 2.5′ deep) and hauling out damaged posts.

Park visitors and tourists cheered us on as they biked and walked past, and we were heartened to receive their support, especially as the day wore on and our muscles started to protest.

As always, it was such a gift to put our skills in service of a larger community project…and if you’ve ever been to Yosemite, you know all too well how many moving pieces there are in the park! From trail maintenance to bridge repairs to housekeeping to gift shops and restaurants, the park truly requires a whole village to stay operating. If you’re interested in the most scenic volunteering gig, apply to volunteer today!