Peter opened the back of his van and we each picked up our tool of choice, axe, handsaw, rake, loppers, and more. Then we set out toward Little Lyford Pond and set to work. We started by learning how to clear water bars, and how to correctly lop a branch (flush with the trunk), and to throw cut branches butt-first into the woods. We paced across the double-plank boardwalk alongside huge moose tracks, and surveyed the pond and hung life preservers up in the canoe shack. We'd return here later at dusk to float and drink a beer and wait for the moose to show (while others were hard at work exploring by paddle or casting fishing lines). With the help of the friendly neighborhood beaver dam, we were able to cross the high water bogs to the pick up the trail (which is primarily a cross-country skiing trail, and so much more passable in winter). Finally, Peter was able to break out the chainsaw, and everyone hit their stride traipsing off wherever they saw a low branch or debris on the trail to clear the way. This is when it started to feel less like work and more like fun; I remembered feeling the same way when running through woods as a kid. That's all we really were: a bunch of kids working our way through the woods on our own little missions. We split into two groups to cover more ground on the Pond 1 and Pond 2 loop trails. My group headed off between the two ponds and came upon a towering old chimney, remaining from its former days as some kind of cabin or logging building perhaps. We came to a river crossing where a a bridge was down, but another beaver dam held strong. We noticed nearby tree stumps complete with beaver bite marks.We inspected strange looking fungi and pretty flowers. All while raking back debris, picking up sticks, and trimming back branches to our heart's content.
As you can see, I could go on and on about all the adventures this weekend held: after-work leisure time laying on grass and reading at the cabin, enjoying beer and survival stories and "toss the pigs" games with crewmates, hiking the "Grand Canyon of Maine" Gulf Hagas and taking videos of the beautiful waterfalls, rushing up Indian Mountain to Laurie's Ledge for expansive views of the wilderness we were buried deep within, all the myriad lakes and hills dotting the dark green/early-spring-light-green swaths of trees, while noble Katahdin rested on the horizon. Black flies were, however, in full form, but even they couldn't damper our spirits.The best part of it all is that we only have more to explore on the next trail work weekend at Gorman Camps. Till then!
submitted by Kristen Hoffman
When I am asked “Why do people love
If it is a raw, rainy day, it is still a very good day! There’s hot bacon and eggs, fresh off the griddle pancakes with plenty of syrup, and bowls of hot oatmeal with brown sugar. Milk, orange juice, and hot coffee and cocoa go along with just about anything too. One could go on and on about the great food, and there aren’t enough recipe boxes in the world to hold all of our kitchen secrets.
We love to wear our trusty clothes—some old, some new. We love our trail gear and tools, and we swap stories about them.
This may sound strange to many, but there is nothing like being half covered in mud with your boots full of water and having four or five hours of trail work behind you. Great feelings of accomplishment and being part of nature abound in our hearts and minds! I suppose you could blame it on a mixture of adrenaline and God, with a bit of Mother Nature.
From herbal medicines in
All in all, when we are done with our work, we relish in the satisfaction of knowing we did the forest a world of good. Digging out drainages, placing rock steps, building bridges, and cutting trailside brush all contribute to the health of the forest and mountains. We wouldn’t have it any other way!
Submitted by James David Christmas.
I began my volunteer work with AMC as an Information Volunteer back in 2000, mostly doing winter stints at Pinkham. I view that role primarily as educational, trying to ensure that hikers are adequately prepared and informed about the variable winter conditions they might encounter on a trip in the White Mountains. Since then, other volunteer hats I wear are as Trip Leader for the Maine Chapter and Volunteer Naturalist, although the latter I haven’t had the opportunity to work much with.
I am a four season hiker myself, out every weekend, and soon began to notice the extensive and complicated trail work I was walking on . I learned about the Adopt- A- Trail Program in 2001 and it seemed a perfect fit-a section of Basin Rim in Evans Notch was open and after my first inspection, it was love at first sight. My trade is carpentry and I very much enjoy creating things with my hands and this same principle applies to trail work although in a much different manner. After a long day of cleaning drainage or brushing it’s very rewarding to walk back to the trailhead and see the improvements you have made. After putting so much care into the section, it seems like a special, almost personal, connection has developed-every Spring I anxiously wait to see how it faired over the long winter, like visiting an old friend you haven’t seen for a while.
Two years ago I took on the job of Region Leader for the Baldface/Royce area in Evans Notch , one of those undiscovered sections of the White Mountains with lovely remote open summits.This new position not only lets me hike the trails more often but also allows me to work with a great team Adopters. I’m finding the most difficult part of this position is coordinating schedules with the Adopters so we can go over their particular section.
Two years ago the Trails Department offered their Volunteer Leadership Training Program which allows us to co-lead work trips with Trails staff. It also allows me to do the refresher training for Basic Skills which is very helpful for the Adopters in our Region.Part of what makes my volunteer work with AMC so rewarding is the support the AMC staff. Whether Trails, Volunteer Services, Naturalist or Pinkham Front Desk, their energy, knowledge, professionalism and genuine support of volunteers helps me realize that my small contribution is important.
We met at the tool shed at 9 am to learn how to use all the tools and hear where we would be working. Some volunteers had come in just for the day, driving over 3 hours each way! Others had been vacationing for the week and gave thanks for the beauty they had experienced by helping for the day. Some high school kids were volunteering as part of a school project on helping the community; I'm sure they will receive a great grade with all the photos they took and the ones we sent them.
A quick drive to
My group of new friends (everyone was very friendly) worked on building the new bridge. Though we were told it was rough construction and didn't have to be perfect there was a lot involved in the building of the bridge. Boards needed to be spaced so the water could drain, but kid's small feet wouldn't get caught between any boards. It needed to be centered in the trail and leveled, which took time to figure out. In the end our group fully completed only one section of bridge, clearly we were so proud that we took pictures laying on the bridge! Another section was nearly complete when we had to switch to another job.
It was a day of hard work, but it was extremely satisfying to improve a trail and give back for others to enjoy. We encountered very few hikers on the trails but those we did thanked us for our work. The trail crews that do this work regularly, without reward of a BBQ and raffle really do deserve the thanks!
Submitted by Cathy Merrifield
YouthBuild Fall River is a full-time construction skills training program for young men and women (ages 16-24), who have not completed high school. Young people spend half their time learning construction skills by repairing and constructing new housing for low-income and homeless families. The other half of their time, students focus on GED preparation, academic subjects, life skills training, community service and preparing for "life after YouthBuild." The entire program is 10 months.
For more information on the Trails Challenge, including getting involved in adopting a trail, click here.