For the second week of the Berkshire Trail Crew, July 8th marked the start of a fantastic five days. Sunday the 8th a great group of people gathered to set off to the Glen Brook site on the Appalachian Trail in South Egremont. The crew that began in a quiet and reserved manner resulted in long lasting friendships and a source of great communication and leadership.
On Monday morning, the crew was quick to jump into action completing multiple projects on the frist day. They made the transition into crew life-style almost non-existent. By Tuesday afternoon, Pat and Connor, the two crew leaders and Jim, the volunteer crew leader, were the ones receiving the directions. Marc, Lauren, Ayresleigh, Alais, Ange and Jesse came together to form an unstoppable team. The structures that needed to be built were all waterbars and check dams. By the end of the week the crew could have built a waterbar in the their sleep.
Following these great working days, camp life was consistently mellow, just talking mostly. Cards, Mafia, and a little Frisbee were the source of some good laughs. By the endof the week everyone had settled and become comfortable creating a great place to be. Wednesday night tested some patience with a very large torrential downpour. Not only were the crew members wet, but their sleeping bags and tents as well. This was fine considering it was our only significant rainstorm. On Thursday night, the entire crew slept out and woke up to extremely misshapen and deformed pancakes. Water bars and check dams were no problem, but those pancakes were a real challenge. The week went really well. Great work was done, and nothing but good times were all around.
In recent years Loon Echo Land Trust’s Stewardship Coordinator, Carrie Walia, has been working with the AMC Trails Director, Andrew Norkin on Pleasant Mountain in Bridgton, ME. In the 2007 season Loon Echo was successful in obtaining a grant to help fund 6 weeks of AMC’s paid Trail Crew staff, as well as 2 weeks of AMC Volunteer Trail Crews.
On July 11, Carrie Walia brought out Andrew Norkin, Mariah Keagy (AMC White Mountain Trails Supervisor), Alex DeLucia (Trails Volunteer Programs Supervisor), and Ali Kosiba (Trails Volunteer Projects Coordinator) to Pleasant Mountain to look at potential Volunteer trail Crew projects and visit with the AMC Trail Crew working on site.
We started up the Ledges trail on a hot and sticky morning. Sweating instantly, and slightly discouraged by the lack of views, we worked our way up to the summit of Pleasant Mountain. Along the way we stopped and visited with the AMC Trail Crew working on constructing rock staircases and rock waterbars on poorly drained and eroded sections of trail. We pushed on to the summit area to find that we were still socked in, but happened upon wood lilies growing wild on the summit.
As we headed down the MacKay Pasture Trail (Southwest Ridge Trail) we began to identify project potential for week long Volunteer Trail Crews. We agreed that the best use of our trails volunteers was to install rock waterbars and some sections of rock staircases in areas where the erosion was beginning, but not too terrible yet. We wrapped up our day working out logistics of camping, water sources, tools, etc.
Pleasant Mountain is a unique mountain well worth a visit. If you happen to make the trip over there look for our AMC Trail Crew or our Volunteer Crews working out on the trails. For more information about Loon Echo Land Trust, click here, or the trails on Pleasant Mountain, click here.
See you on the trails!
We spent the day on Lost Pond trail, part of the Appalachian Trail, across from Pinkham Notch Visitor’s Center. The trail, which is highly used, can be very wide and muddy at spots. The group spent the day constructing bog bridges along a 70 foot section of the trail using pre-milled lumber in order to concentrate hikers on a smaller section of the tread-way.
Before any work could be begun, all of the material –8 foot stringers, 4 foot logs and a load of tools –had to be carried out to the site a quarter of a mile away. After multiple trips of hauling supplies, the actual construction of the eight bridges flew by in no time (thanks mainly to the strong volition of the volunteers). We finished the project by 'brushing-in' around the bog bridges we made in order to allow for the regrowth of native vegetation and to prevent hikers from straying off-trail. The participants were amazed at how easy the trail work was to learn (even though I tried to convince them that if I can do it, anyone can) and what a dramatic effect a group could have on a section of trail in only one day.
Kelly, a front-country naturalist at Pinkham Notch, met us at Lost Pond for lunch where she taught us about the geology and ecology of the area including some obscure facts about beavers, edible plants (still inconclusive whether blue bead lilies are edible...) and lichens. After the day of work we returned to Camp Dodge to relax for a BBQ.
Based on the success of this day and volunteers’ feedback, we plan to offer more one day work parties in the future, so keep an eye on the website.
Thanks for your help!
(Coordinator for Volunteer Projects)
For more information about Friends of the Forest activities or the National Forest Foundation please visit www.becomeafriend.org
This past Saturday I met the crew at the beginning of the Bald Peak Trail on Pleasant Mt. After a bit of logistical shuffling, the crew split up to construct staircases on the Bald Peak and Ledges Trails. One crew of 4-6 has been working on these trails for the past 5 weeks, installing drainage on these 3 miles of trail and constructing some challenging rock staircases closer to the summit.
With beautiful weather and the energy of 18 seasoned, AMC trail-workers, we set out, quarrying rocks and rolling them to the project sites. Mainly newer crew members looked for rock, while the more experienced began "setting" (placing in a way that is undoubtedly stable) the rocks, forming staircases on steep, erosion prone sections of trail.
Despite tired bodies, the excitement of a full crew, and approaching vacation time, the tradition of “whapping it out” prevailed and 5 significant rock staircases were completed over the weekend. After finishing 7 consecutive days of trailwork on Sunday evening, the crew began a week of body resting and summer fun (known as "Long Days"), which by this time in the season is sorely needed.
Be sure to check back for updates on other AMC White Mountain Crew projects and where-abouts.
July 1-6 was the start of a very exciting season here in the Berkshires. We took out our first crew of volunteer teens to the Sherman Brook portion of the Appalachian Trail in North Adams, Massachusetts. Our goal was to solve some seriously wet areas of trail.
The crew consisted of six volunteers: Alex, Ben, Charlotte, Erik, Hannah, and Nick. This crew was unstoppable. They were easy to work with, and followed instructions and constructive criticism very well. It only took one day of working closely together before the crew was able to break off into smaller groups and accomplish the tasks at hand. By the end, Connor and Ben hardly had to say anything before the crew would jump all over a project.
True, like many aspects of trail work, we hit some snags - way too much water, the rocks quarried wouldn't fit, and there weren't enough rocks...But with just a little patience and atrategizing, we were able to make some awesome stepping stones, water bars, stone culverts, and even a bridge makeover happen in just 5 days of work.
The crew life at our base of operations was also an enjoyable aspect of the trip. We occupied our time with a variety of games and chatter. Cards were a huge success as well as many exciting games of Mafia! While at camp, the crew had some chores to do. Each day we required lots of water. There were two things we needed it for, one being to stay hydrated and the other for cooking and cleaning. The meals on the trip were accepted and often consumed before one could really taste what it was we created. Some claim there could have been more, while other claimed we needed more Franks! Either way, there were smiles, high spirits, and tons of fun.
Our hikes vary from day to day as much as they do in location, an 8 mile hike to the Stewarts Hollow lean-to or a weeklong stay at Sages Ravine with a 12 mile day hike loop. Our friends; the thru hikers, day hikers, section hikers, or overnight youth groups, and our never ending nemesis: the anti-Leave No Tracers are always inhabiting the trail and keeping our job fun and interesting.
We share the trail with not only human inhabitant but we coexist with nature as well. The possibility of running into a hear is always on our minds, or listening for the every-ready rattle of the endangered timber rattlesnake. For some of s this is more of a chance of excitement than others. Finally, getting to see first hand what one of these species looks like in its natural environment is the chance of a lifetime, as it not only provides to our own education, but also will in turn provide towards the education of others.
A bike from point A to point B is never just a straightforward walk. There's always someone to talk to along the way, and boy do some of them love to talk. Topics can range from the need to have picnic tables at every campsite, to their work life and even to their home life. Some need directions into Salisbury for a sandwich at the IGA; some need moleskin for their tired and blistered feet. Most are just happy to run into someone who might know the weather, and whether or not the Red Sox are still in first place.
The most challenging part of the day is water. Estimating if you have enough to make it to the next stream, hoping that the stream isn't dry when you get there, making sure that you have enough water left at camp to make your gourmet macaroni and cheese (with Tuna fish in olive oil) for dinner. But paradise among paradise is finding a bit of river that's deep enough to swim in. It serves as both a shower and a cool down, it's truly heaven.
Life as a Ridgerunner is never a glamorous job. Though we have an official looking shirt, by the end of the week when we come out of the woods we are just as tired and sore as every other hiker who's been on the trail. We've cut small blow-downs, removed trash, hiked many miles and talked to dozens of people, all for the purpose: so that others may hike.
Written by: Matt Chaput, Ridgerunner