Young Members Alpine Crew

It seemed forever ago that I registered to be a part of the Young Members Alpine Crew. It was one of those things that I was excited about initially, then the dates just kind of sat on my calendar, until about two weeks before the trip, when I started getting geared up and ready. Given the lovely weather that the summer of '09 had delivered to us thus far, I had resolved to the fact that I was going to be a wet mess. But beyond that, I wasn't really sure what to expect. Here's the lowdown. For Cliff Notes version, scroll to bottom of blog entry. . .

It's Sunday afternoon, check in time for Trail Crew week and I'm driving to Camp Dodge. I get out of the car and look around. Clearly I am much older than most people. Is this the right place? Sign in with Matty Zane (umm, Happy Birthday Matty, right?) and he directs me to the table with the few Young Members that have arrived so far. I introduce myself and say the normal, awkward things you may say to a couple of people you don’t know, but are going to be spending the next 120 hours or so with. Oh boy. What did I get myself into? I excuse myself and bring my stuff to the cabin that we’re all sleeping that night. The rest of the evening proceeds pretty uneventfully with the group just sitting around, getting to know each other. And really wonderful food – thanks Sarah Gorgas!

Rise and shine the next morning and the weather is. . . good! This week is apparently unique in that we have a one day local service trip before we head off a bit further in the woods. And our work was pretty cool: The Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center needed some work done on a mountain bike trail in preparation for a 24 hour race. We got an orientation from our Crew Leaders on the various tools we’d be using during the week, and then it was time to begin. My first task? Cutting down a tree. The rest of my tasks for the day weren’t as cool, but definitely interesting and fun nonetheless. Alex DeLucia, the North Country’s Trails Volunteer Programs Supervisor aka Trails Extraordinaire spent the day with us, and it was great to learn from him, in addition to our Crew Leaders.

Next day, we pack up and head up to the Hermit Lake Shelters, our home for the rest of the week. An interesting site for sure – with all our tools and fluorescent construction hats hanging on our packs. We set up our stuff in one of the shelters and begin to settle in a bit more with each other, as well as our new surroundings. We decide to take a hike up to the Alpine Region on the Boott Spur Trail. Hannah, one of our Leaders, gave a mini “class” on the various plant life that live in those specific areas. Then, the most incredible sight: a rainbow, below us. We had hiked above a rainbow and looked down upon it in awe and admiration. Seriously, a beautiful world. The next day we started the morning with a little warm up before getting to work. And when I say warm up, I mean dance. Yes, Hannah introduced us to a circle dance to get the blood pumping and the group excited for the day. And it involved imitating animals, ‘nuff said. We then hiked up Tuckerman Ravine Trail to start rock work in the Alpine Region. We arrived to the designated area to wind, cold, a bit of rain, and more wind. Hmmm, how long would we be able to hang in this weather? It actually turned out fine, we hiked down a bit to escape the wind and spent to the day creating rock walls and cairns and enjoying the spectacular views around us. Including one of my favorite views of the week: Tecla, our other Leader, standing on her newly built rock cairn, huge smile on her face, proving it’s strength and durability. That night brought lots of yummy food – although 4 bowls of chili may have been a bit excessive for a certain someone – and fun nighttime stories with the group. Next morning – an addition to our morning warm up: Anthony the Caretaker for Hermit Lake Shelters. Turns out he couldn’t resist our taking part of our dance or stretching routine. Off we go up Lion’s Head Trail to do some work in the Alpine Garden. The first part of the day went off without a hitch – we had quickly gotten used to the routine of building walls and cairns and had a decent system down. However, the second half of the proved to be a bit challenging for us as a group. Some people were tired, some had minor injuries, and some were just tired of looking at rocks. You know what that means? Snicker Break. Time to regroup, rejuvenate, and eat chocolate. This ended up being a good plan of attack, and we were back on our game for a couple more hours. Back at camp that night, we’re eating another monster meal, enjoying our last night in the field, and silliness ensues. By now, we’ve gotten to know each other better, and have our fair share of inside jokes that have accumulated over the week. Plus, Kelsey – the fabulous North Country Trails Volunteer Programs Coordinator – has joined us for the evening. We end up playing a new game that attracted the attention of fellow campers, I try my best not to pee my pants I’m laughing so hard, in addition to wrapping up our “kills” for our version of Camping Clue. The next morning, I wake up with mixed emotions: excited to see my family, not excited to leave the good times behind. But we still have the day together. We end up doing work closer to the Hermit Lake Shelters area, as opposed to heading back up to the Alpine Region. We grab a snack and head back down the mountain. But we need one last really cool highlight before we’re done: oh, just running into a little moosie. So cool. Alright, forward on down the trail. Back at Camp Dodge, it’s time to eat and bid farewell. I am grateful for the week, especially to Hannah and Tecla, for their commitment, enthusiasm, patience, and big hearts. Thank you lovelies.

CEY’s Cliff Notes Version of Young Members Alpine Trail Crew Week:

  1. I cut down a tree. On a 24 hour mountain bike course.
  2. We hiked above a rainbow. I mean, seriously?
  3. Got our day going with a daily dance that involved imitating animals.
  4. Tecla has the incredible ability to hang out on the top of newly built rock cairns.
  5. I have a newfound love and appreciation for Snicker Breaks!
  6. We had a ton of fun playing weird games, including one with strange loud noises, attracting the attention of campers nearby.
  7. Kelsey – the fantabulous North Country Trails Volunteer Programs Coordinator – visited us on our last night, she simply couldn’t resist not being a part of our crew for at least a little bit.
  8. The food was really, really yummy – both at Dodge (thanks to Sarah) and in the backcountry (thanks to Hannah).
  9. Hiking back down towards Pinkham, we see a moose. Really cool.
  10. We had the most incredible leaders – thank you Hannah and Tecla!

Submitted by Colleen Yout