Within thirty seconds of our arrival at Wilbur’s Clearing we were met with a torrential downpour. As we powered on hiking towards our campsite with our awkward tools and heavy packs, we immediately got a chance to see the part of the AT we would be working on, and what obstacles we would face during the week. The trail was wet, to say the least. Previously installed check steps had helped caused mini flood spots on the trail, and bog bridges needed to be strategically moved to trouble spots.
The crew certainly all got very comfortable with working in the mud or at least got to do it far more than any person in their right mind would ever sign up for. However, this mud and constant wetness throughout the week became entertaining in a twisted sort of way. The ridiculousness of it became hilarious. We all dreaded putting on our wet boots so much in the morning that we turned it into a group event. When we were all ready, we would gather around our tent platform and all simultaneously put on our soaking wet boots and socks, and groan, and cry and laugh together, in order to share this unique experience together.
After we were good and soaked, Wednesday rolled around pouring again and the crew came out breathing fire in the face of Mother Nature. With veteran trail crew volunteers Michael Humphry and Greg Hartwich helping lead the way with their crushing expertise and terrific work ethic, this crew ended up getting muddier and working as hard as any crew I’ve seen and maintained off the charts moral and group chemistry through it all.
Something about this crew really made me smile. It was so good to see everyone helping with EVERYTHING. Whenever someone was doing something on the trail, or back at camp, each member of the crew consistently was asking how they could help or what else could be done, which was truly music to the ears of a crew leader. If we decided to turn this week’s crew into a reality show, The Weakest Link, VTC edition, I honestly don’t think we could have found a weak link, because we were tough as nails, and completely unbreakable.
By Thursday, we had completed some truly remarkable work. Using mostly backpacks and buckets, we ferried, in my estimation, about 100 loads of crush from far away back to our work site in order to fill in our turnpike, and cover areas of the trail that were flooded. Useful check-steps were installed on the trail, bog bridges were successfully set and moved, and last but not least, a quality native bog bridge was installed at the last minute with the help of our trusty field coordinator Connor Young.
Looking back on it, I have to say the participants from this week’s crew excelled in working as a team and battled through some of the dirtiest work conditions I’ve seen, impressing me as much as any group of participants we’ve had the pleasure of working with this summer. Well done, gang.
-BrianIn the overwhelming wet muddiness of the week I am sad to say Brian's camera was fatally damaged, thus leaving us with no photos of this great and epic week. If any participants have photos, do send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. -MJM
Labels: Berkshire Teen Trail Crew