GRANITE MOUNTAIN, Wash. -- Most change of command ceremonies happen outside a battalion area with a formation, but the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 4th Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) changed it up by conducting its ceremony at the base of Granite Mountain before trekking 5,633 feet to the summit with 880 pounds of lumber for the U.S. Forest Service.
The relationship between the U.S. Forest Service and HHD was built at a previous endurance event, when HHD coordinated with the U.S. Forest Service to use Granite Mountain as a training venue. During the initial coordination, HHD discovered that the Forest Service needed to transport almost 1,000 pounds of lumber to the top of the mountain. HHD saw the opportunity to give back to the community by carrying the load, while also providing a challenging physical exercise for the Soldiers, according to HHD Commander, Capt. Wesley Wiblin.
The lumber will be used to restore the storm shutters on the fire lookout tower at the mountain's summit. The fire tower was built in 1956 and hasn't been renovated in the 61 years that it has been standing at the summit. Most of the Forest Service Rangers are volunteers, and would have to make multiple trips up the mountain to get the lumber to the summit.
"They didn't know how they were going to get the lumber up to the fire tower, so the soldiers from HHD volunteering to help was amazing," said Chris Felsted, district ranger.
In total, 36 soldiers from HHD participated in the ascent. The Forest Service packaged the lumber into 40-pound two-man carry loads. With water and food for the journey, plus the lumber, each Soldier carried approximately 50 pounds up the 4.3-mile trail to the summit.
The trail is an incline all the way to the top, and the halfway mark turns into snow-packed terrain.
One soldier from HHD said the hike to the top was very challenging and really tested physical fitness, but that it was great to give back to the community and help the Forest Service.