As week three rolled around the Berkshire Teen Trail Crew headed to Mount Greylock State Reservation and greylocked in for a beautiful week of bog bridging (native and non-native), checkstepping, ultimate charades and pancake
pandemonium. Brian and Dena led a crew of nine teens, including seasoned veteran Alexander ‘Supertramp’ Jones, working just south of Wilbur’s Clearing on the AT.
We kicked things off Monday by getting down and dirty on some check steps and replacing some rotted out and worn down bog bridges. Berkshire Field-Coordinator Connor Young guest starred Monday’s work day and taught some of the team how to prepare trees for native bog bridging. Theo Chimes, one of our participants from Pennsylvania took a particular liking to this aspect of the work, commenting in his evaluation, “The most enjoyable part for me was feeling like a lumberjack.”
As for camp life, this week’s crew was no slouch in the fun and pigging out department. Tuesday night before dinner, Dena introduced the crew to a game that would steal and takeover minds and hearts of the crew. Ultimate Charades, in a nutshell; first round taboo, second round charades, third round word association, you get one shot, one chance, and if no one gets it, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself. The boys took on the girls in a best of three series that ended with a little too much shouting ‘caribou!!!’ not enough sleep, no losers and ten huge winners.
Friday morning, Brian learned a valuable lesson that every camper, and pancake maker should make mental note of. NEVER ADD BOILING WATER TO PANCAKE MIX OR YOU WILL RUIN EVERYTHING! Friday morning the crew was very giggly and a little sleep deprived, and ready to go to town on some blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes. The first half hour or so of the pancake making attempt was filled with hatred, confusion, and tears. There was some talk of whether or not we had somehow confused pancake mix with instant mashed potatoes. I kid you not, these pancakes were more like gooey chocolate chip mashed potatoes (which actually sound delicious right now, but were highly disappointing at the time), and the gang was not pleased, to say the least.
After the pancake mix cooled down, and everyone chilled out, the pancakes began to look like actual pancakes, the wild blueberries were busted out and the result was something like heaven. The teens rejoiced, the leaders breathed a deep sigh of relief, and the week three trail crew packed up their gear and hiked back into reality victorious.
Photo by: Julie LePage
Baxter State Park & AMC trail builders & members have had an ongoing connection dating as far back as 1886 - and this week's adult volunteer crew carried on that tradition in top form.
Photo by: Julie LePage
Photo by: Julie LePage
Photo by: Julie LePage
Post by: Julie LePage
If ever there was an occasion to bring the editors of Better Homes & Garden or Country Living into the woods, this would be it. The dedicated labors and keen vision of our second week Crew delivered such artful rock work it could bring a tear to the eye- and for many (or at least for this author), it did. Beautiful sections of stepping stones, a magnificent turn-pike, and a meticulously cobblestoned waterbar, were just some of the artistry begging to be featured in next month’s publications. If you’re looking for your next picnic destination, consider hiking the AT South towards Tom Leonard shelter- and don’t forget your camera!
The week’s worth of rock work put in by the Crew was impressive, but perhaps equally impressive was the one-day construction of a new tent platform at Tom Leonard shelter. Headed up by Pete Rentz and matched board-for-board by several other dedicated volunteers, we watched as the lumber was carried up and the sweat dripped down. We arrived at the end of the day to find a lovely new platform freshly installed on the scenic rock outcropping. It was hard work, but the volunteers were uncomplaining and gave the Crew a taste of what they could look forward to if they stick around with the AMC.
The Crew was a fantastic mix of volunteers from throughout the whole East Coast, ranging from Florida to Maine. From the start they were a wild bunch, putting in full days on the trail and somehow still having energy to build campfires and play charades. Perhaps most impressive was a two-tiered magic trick put on by Lily. The trick, or, “lack of s’more-making experience” as she called it, involved waving a marshmallow stick in the air and unknowingly unfurling the roasted confection into poor old Zach’s floppy hair. In turning to see what the roaring laughter was all about, she waved the stick again, this time smearing Caitlin in the face with the remaining goo. The rest of the Crew was in hysterics and fortunately, the hapless victims were laughing too.
Marshmallows and cheese aside, the Crew busted a move the entire week, earning an early escape to a local lake on Thursday afternoon (not to be rained out this time!). After not finding the original site, we wandered into a tiny put-in, only to find the lake choked by tall seaweed. The bunch were brave swimmers anyway, maybe too bold in the case of Alexander “Supertramp” who left his glasses in his pocket and whose glasses soon left him. Despite heroic efforts to find them (or was it just the pleasure of swimming for a while longer?) by Valerie and Sarah, the glasses were lost forever to the depths of Lake Buel.
Season Start with Crew Leader ACK Moore
My first week leading crews in the Whites will definitely be a memorable one. Head leader Nick Scott and myself lead a 2-Week Crew of 8 guys ages 15-18 up the Dryad Falls Trail to Dream Lake in the Mahoosucs. This crew was high energy and worked hard. Over the course of the week we: put in over 15 bog new bridges (some with cribs underneath), repaired a few others, put in a few step stones, and brushed out a large section of trail. This crew was exceptionally self-motivated and quick to learn. They did their work fast but didn't sacrifice any quality.
While this crew worked hard, the most memorable part for me was the amount of fun they had both at work and after. While they were definitely draining at times for Nick and I, I believe we would both say it was a very enjoyable experience. It was great to hear so many stories about the Vols lives' outside the woods. Some had extensive backpacking experience while others were still new to backcountry living. One of the most interesting parts for myself was watching the group form each night. You could see everyone becoming more and more comfortable with each other as the week went on and by the end the entire group seemed like a bunch of brothers who had known each other their whole lives. Everyone in the crew ended up with a "trail-name". There was Agent Orange (who covered his entire pack and self in the largest bright orange poncho I have ever seen), J-mac, and Special Sauce, just to name a few.
When I took the crew Climbing with EMS on Saturday they had the guides laughing the whole time (Agent Orange decided he would only climb with his full back pack on because it looked more "hard-core").
Overall everyone had a great time and we were able to finish a ton of work. This crew was a great start to the season and really made me thankful for the job I have.
My early hiking career was disjointed, and so is my memory of it, though a few recollections remain firmly fixed. I first visited the White Mountains of New Hampshire with two friends in June 50 years ago. We camped out two nights and drank from the streams. We climbed Mt. Washington in fog so thick above Gem Pool that we had to descend along the cog railway trestle. I now advise hikers not to emulate my early example. In the 1960s, I camped at Dry River Shelter #1, now gone, though I bet the descendants of the no-see’ums which wrecked my sleep are still there. I remember hiking along Webster Cliff and over the Franconia Ridge, much of its vegetation trampled by numerous herd-paths. In the 1970s, I joined the AMC and needed references from two members to do so, did some hiking, and let my membership lapse when I spent some years abroad and my personal life intervened.
My modern era–ancient of course to almost anyone who blogs–began in the 1980s, when I rejoined the AMC and began spending a week or two each summer at Cold River Camp, where I have been leading hikes now for going on a quarter-century. During the same period I have worked with the Chatham Trails Association, which maintains some 40 miles of trails in the vicinity of CRC. For the AMC, I have also been a hike leader for the Berkshire Chapter and August Camp and an Information Volunteer. In addition, I am a member of the Berkshire Mountain Search and Rescue Team. I could have done none of these things without the understanding of my family. I am grateful to my wife, whom I met on an AMC bike trip, and my two sons, both now grown and great outdoorsmen, for sharing my love of hiking and sharing me with my volunteer activities.
I am in my sixth year in the Alpine Steward Volunteer Program, run jointly by the AMC and the U.S. Forest Service. About a dozen stewards take turns on weekends in the spring, summer and early fall hiking along the Franconia Ridge between Lafayette and Little Haystack. We are involved in education, preservation, and safety on this heavily traveled stretch of the AT. We emphasize the importance of hikers remaining within the scree walls so that vegetation can continue to grow back; report on the stages of growth of certain plants at three locations; give advice on trails, weather, and clothing; provide first aid or radio the hut in case of emergency; chat with visitors and take their photos when requested; and give explanations of our program at dinner in Greenleaf Hut on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Having retired from my day job in June 2008, I have more time to volunteer. When Jocelyn calls (actually e-mails), I try to answer. So in addition to my regular stints–ASVP at the end of June and InfoVol at the beginning of August, I agreed to substitute for a hike leader at Cold River Camp and to lead campers at Highland Center in July. I enjoy sharing my limited knowledge and experience with other people. At the same time that I am contributing to the AMC, the AMC is contributing to my life. It has allowed me to pursue activities I love and improve my skills. I have applied those leadership and organizational abilities to other parts of my life. So I must thank the AMC not only for honoring me this month but also for enriching my life. I encourage readers to think of volunteering in similar terms, and I would be glad to welcome your joining me in any of the activities in which I am involved.
6/29/08 – 7/4/08
Out here with the Berkshire Teen Trail Crew, our first week out on the trail with volunteers was a great success! Our mission: to patch up a part of the A.T. less than a mile north of the Rt. 23 parking lot and about a 2.5-mile hike from our base camp at Tom Leonard and
Most of the crew lived within a few hours’ drive from the worksite – there was a group of four from upstate NY, and several from the Boston area – but for many, it was not only the first time out on a trail crew, but the first time camping, too! Tracey and Jim lead the crusade for our “leave no trace” lifestyle, which everyone soon picked up.
By the end of the week, our camp life fell into a rhythm, with Ran (our resident storyteller) and Jake as regular “water run” volunteers, and Andy and Diane as our dynamic chef duo. Kris and Cathy offered to collect duff for the privy one evening – a highly underrated but very important job – and in the end were able to give everyone else a quick lesson in privy use. On a particularly energetic afternoon, Jeremy and Ben developed a cool game with the work gloves: your goal was to slap an opponent with your glove, without getting slapped yourself. Needless to say, all the boys jumped in at some point, and with all the rolling around they did in the parking lot gravel, it was just as much fun to watch as to play.
On Thursday afternoon, we finished work early, and planned to go for a swim in the local pond. By the time we got back to Tom Leonard to get our swimming things, the sky promised a thunderstorm and some people opted not to go. The few who decided to brave the hike anyway ended up unable to go swimming, regardless, because of the thunderstorm… but even so, an hour’s hike in the rain is a great way to clean off a week of dirt!
Definitely a highlight of the week was our regular encounters with the day- and thru-hikers that spent the night at the Tom Leonard lean-to. We met people from
Overall, it was an awesome first week, and those of use leading the Berkshire VTCs look forward to many more weeks to come!
Mohican Trail Crew started a very much needed major trail reconstruction to the VanCampens Glen Trail. Over the past few years several storms have created major flood damage and doubled with several log jams the trail that once traveled along the VanCampens Brook is now under water in some places.
This project will take several months to redirect the trail and make the needed repairs to the rest of it. The log jams and blow downs are extensive and we had to call in the NPS to bring in their Sayers to help with some of the large hangers. Lets say a 80 foot hemlock broken in half and landed between two oak trees 50 feet of the ground is a little more then we can handle.
For June we cut a new 500 foot trail head bringing the trail just up hill from the old trail head then put in a stone stair case to bring the hikers 15 feet back down to a section of original trail we were able to save. A couple sections of cribing and our weekend was over. We will be back out here through September.
AMC-MOC Trail Crew Coordinator
The DWGNRA is the 8th most visited park in the NPS and a 3 hour drive for some 8 million people to visit. This crew is now available to help hikers and visitors on any of the 15 trails we maintain.
We were able to open this class up to 3 other agencies that sent a representative to the class. We started a good working relationship with them and plan to work with them more in the future.
AMC-MOC Trail Crew Coordinator
June 20 marked a big day for the Trails Department as we wrapped up our intensive season training with a President's Society work party. We headed over to Crawford Notch where we met up with our group of six President's Society members, ready to be involved with AMC from the ground up. We headed over to the the Elephant Head Spur Trail, an area eager for our attention. Part of the group worked on brushing, the other dug into some rock work. (That's right, rock work. These Presidents are tough.)
Everyone, we believe, got quite dirty.
It was an exciting start to our trails season here, to be doing the work we love alongside those that help make it happen in countless other ways. The positive attitudes and love for the land made for a productive team, rain or shine.
Thanks to all who participated and shared an afternoon of Trails life. Hopefully we'll see you in the backcountry this summer-- you know what we'll be up to.