Spring on the Bay Circuit Trail

Hello! My name is Catherine Frondorf and I joined the Trails Team this month as the Bay Circuit Trails Volunteer Project Coordinator. I help develop and support the AMC’s Trails Volunteer Programs in eastern Massachusetts, primarily along the Bay Circuit Trail (BCT). Some of our volunteer opportunities are monthly BCT Saturday Work Parties that allow people to be a trail workers for a day. Volunteers put in some hard work, learn what it takes to maintain our beautiful trails, and get outside and have some fun!

This past Saturday, April 16th, was the start of our AMC Work Party season. We had a turnout of 12 volunteers who were eager to start the day at 9AM. Everyone came prepared in their boots, work pants, backpacks, water bottles and a smile on their faces. We were fortunate enough to start our day on a beautiful, crisp, clear morning with the sun shining bright and the smell of pine needles in the air. Our group was made up of people from many walks of life, from college students to a seasoned AMC member who has been with us since 1975! Now that’s dedication!

Catherine Frondorf
Before starting out, we went over a little AMC history (we’re the oldest and largest conservation organization in the nation) and of course, the standard safety protocol. Then we were off! We hiked in a little more than ½ a mile with our tools in hand: pick mattocks, shovels, grub hoes, buckets, canvas rock bags, bow saws, and two eighteen-pound rock bars. We walked as a group up to our project site and along the way traversed across some small streams, bog bridges, and quite a bit of mud – though, not as much as we were about to encounter!

On this particular day, we set out to clean mucky drainages, backfilling swamped check-steps, and building our very own water bar (that’s rock work in the trail world). We separated into two groups and Beth, the Volunteer Projects Supervisor, worked with her group on clearing out some seriously clogged drainages and my group worked on building a water bar. The going was tough and muddy. We were sweating by lunchtime, when we took a well-deserved break at the smooth and rocky Noon Hill overlook. We had breathtaking views of a vast green expanse as far as Moose Hill in the next town over. Once we were nourished and rehydrated we started back up on our projects with a new vigor and determination to get things done.

All in all, as a team we completed a hefty chunk of work in a short amount of time by backfilling swamped check steps and re-directing the flow of water off the trail with our newly cleaned drainages and a handsome water bar (not to shabby for a volunteer trail crew)! At the end of the day everyone was sufficiently muddy, tired, and happy and walked away with a sense of reward and a newfound appreciation for trail work.


Still hiring for Summer Teen Trail Crew Leaders!

Be a part of AMC's Teen Trail Crew staff for Summer 2016--we only have a few spots left, so get your application in today!

This position is ideal for independent and motivated individuals seeking to learn and grow as leaders and trail workers. Our priority is supporting the energetic teen volunteers that come through the program and leading them through an experience that is challenging, fun, and positive.

We have an exciting variety of regional program locations, from the North Country of NH/ME, Greater Boston, the Berkshires, and NY/NJ! For more information or to fill out an online application, see the full position description.

 Be part of the Nation's oldest conservation organization and help to ensure a bright future for public lands in the northeast.


Sarah and Kate: Why (Women) Caretakers Rule

I had originally started this post as an 'boy it is a small trails world' post, about how closely connected most people are around the country to AMC. As staff have left the caretaker program, they have found themselves in the West, Midwest, South, Alaska, Antarctica, and even Germany (Guten Tag Tobias Carter!). As they move throughout the country, and across the globe, they build out the network. And so the small world continues to grow.

But, however, my plans for this post have changed, once I received the above photo. All I could think was 'caretakers rule.'

This photo is of two caretaker alums Sarah Hayes (Nauman 2009) and Kate Orlofsky (Guyot fall 2013 and Speck! Pond 2014). Both of them spent the winter together working in Denali National Park working with the Park Service kennels, driving dog teams on patrols through the Park.

Sarah, after leaving AMC, has worked off and on for the Park since 2010, but has since landed a full time position with the Park and calls Alaska home. Kate is not new to the lifestyle of dogsledding, having spent two winters working for the Mahoosuc Guide Service in Newry, ME, with Yukon Huskies that are very similar to the Denali dogs. Kate feels an ultimate pull towards scientific field research, so I expect her to be falling into a PhD program at some point.

I knew both of these incredible women during there time here at AMC. I thrashed around in the brush with Sarah doing boundary work along the Appalachian Trail. I sat at the edge of Speck! Pond with Kate, talking about adventures to be had and how to make decisions about life. I shared so much laughter with each of them, and have stayed in touch with both of them as their adventures took them far and wide. (I also was invited to Sarah's wedding, and am still disappointed I wasn't able to make it work!). How I wish that I could have spent one week in their company in Denali this past winter.

Both Kate and Sarah exemplified, during their time here, all that a caretaker can be. They were positive and sought to make positive change in the world. They both did incredible work and served above and beyond in their posts as stewards. It is powerful to know that they are continuing to make the world a better place, just as they did here in the White Mountains.

In addition to writing about how caretakers rule, it is also worthy to note their gender. When Sarah was a caretaker, she was one of two women of 12 caretakers. When Kate was a caretaker in 2014, she was one of four in a team of 12.

This year, 2016, I am thrilled to announce that seven caretakers out of 12 will be women. Yes. That's over 50%.

Women in the trails field have for a long time been rare. A photo of the AMC trail crew from the 1970s hangs in our Trails offices, and there are no women. During the 10 years I've been involved with the caretaker program, the percentage of women has been usually around 30%, and that percentage also reflects the percentage of women who applied. When I was hired into my position in the Trails department, I was the only full time woman in Trails at the time.

Gender is only one of the many lenses that one can apply to the world, one of the many ways to measure equity. In recognizing gender, I am not disregarding the various other forms of inquity. I am acknowledging it because when there are more women in the caretaker office, it feels different.

Caretakers rule. And I'm so thrilled that, for the first time, there are just as many women as men.

(also worthy of note? That the Trailmaster for the White Mountain Professional Trail Crew is a woman. Yes.)


Get out & dirty for a day on the Bay Circuit Trail!

Spring has arrived on the Bay Circuit Trail (BCT) outside Boston! As the weather continues to warm and you look for new things to do outdoors, add an AMC staff-led Saturday Work Party to your weekend plans. You'll have the chance to get outside with other enthusiastic volunteers - no experience required. Saturday Work Parties are fun opportunities to learn trail maintenance and construction skills. Registration required - check the links for dates & details.

The Saturday, April 16 Work Party will take place in Medfield, MA. Register now!



AMC Trails: Summer Jobs!

AMC Trails Department is now hiring for summer 2016!
We are looking for Trail Crew Members, Trail Crew Leaders, Trail Project Coordinators, Caretakers for our Backcountry Campsites and Shelters, Appalachian Trail Ridgerunners, Logistical Support Staff, and more.
Take a look at the exciting variety of summer seasonal opportunities that are available from Maine south to New York and New Jersey! For more information, please see our full list of summer seasonal positions for 2016.
Be part of the Nation's oldest conservation organization and help to ensure a bright future for public lands in the northeast. Apply soon, these popular positions can fill up fast.


Over The River and Through the Woods to...

Or maybe you prefer a bridge over troubled water, either way you likely have one or two songs stuck in your head after reading this!

40' Nineteen Mile Brook Bridge, constructed 2015.
View from previous bridge location.
The White Mountain Professional Trail Crew finished construction this fall on a 40 foot bridge on the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail. With the installation of the bridge ends a 4 year absence after TS Irene plowed through the Northeast dropping way too much rain for any watersheds to handle around here, resulting is severe damage not only to major trails in the Whites but major road systems as well. With cooperation with the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF-FS) and assistance from the National Forest Foundation (NFF)  we began the ground work for the bridge in August.

Crew working on the abutments.
As is with most trail construction projects in the Whites, Mother Nature always has a say in the matter and that was no different here. While the weather was rather good during most of the project, driving drift pins and setting timber members were sometimes challenging in the rocky soil, but the crews did a fine job with the challenges and the measurements came out just right! I'll add here that our stringers were glulam beams -- engineered and pre built to 40 ft., we didn't have much room for error with our abutment measurements!

Crew receiving bridge beams.
Design plans called for 3 beams, each weighing approximately 1,400 lbs.

With the abutments built and the approach from either side modified we waited until the end of September to airlift the beams into place and bring in the rest of the material for the decking and handrails. Airlifts came and went without much of a hitch, beams settled nicely and a 4lb sledge was enough to make the minor adjustments either left or right to square the beams up.

Approach from near side.
Once the decking material, hardware, and tools were on site the crew made quick work of
 installing the handrails, cutting and fastening the decking, and finishing the approaches.

Additional work went into two relatively short but significant trail relocations on the trail as well. With the banks of the Nineteen Mile Brook unable to contain the rush of rain runoff from TS Irene the brook jumped the banks in several locations, causing erosion and gulling beyond repair in sections of the old trail.
Volunteer Teen Trail Crew clearing
part of relocation

Both the Professional Trail Crew and Volunteer Trail Crews from Camp Dodge worked on both relocations, one of which started right from the parking lot, the second not much farther up trail -- both relos are below the site of the new bridge.

Vol. Teen Trail Crew receives rocks via a highline.

A lot of rock was moved to build rock staircases and to replace roughly a foot of duff and organic material in effort to provide a more durable tread surface for users. Both relos likely won't feel the effects of high water if we receive another Irene-like event as they are placed
on much higher terrain than the old sections were originally.

Thank you again to the USFS and NFF for cooperation and financial assistance on this project.

The National Forest Foundation (NFF): Founded by Congress in 1991, the National Forest Foundation works to conserve, restore and enhance America's 193-million-acre National Forest System. Through community-based strategies and public-private partnerships, the NFF helps enhance wildlife habitat, revitalizes wildfire-damaged landscapes, restores watersheds, and improves recreational resources for the benefit of all Americans.

Want to learn more about AMC’s trail crew? Keep an eye on AMC’s YouTube page in March for new a video produced by AMC’s magazine team.

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