Berkshire Teen Trail Crew Week Six, Mt. Williams

The Start:

Week Six started with a bang, or rather a small distant roll of thunder, barely audible off in the distant hills, but none the less threatening to the start of our week. As we gathered together the last few things on our list and threw them in the van, trying to escape the heavy “mist” rapidly “settling” on the KCC, I worried about the weather we would see up on Greylock.

That was all the thunder we heard all week, and the end of my worries. Aside from one random downpour that lasted just long enough to soak us, our tools, and our worksite (and our morale [but only for a short while]) it was the best weather we have seen yet this summer.

The nice weather may have helped, but the volunteers’ hard work and wonderful attitudes are what really got things done this week. Working on a particularly eroded section of the AT on Mt. Williams our project options for the week were varied and almost limitless. My field notes indicated that we certainly would not run out of things to keep our hands busy this week. After meeting the crew, I was close to certain that they had it in themselves to take a nice chunk out of our to-do list during the course of the week.

The Monday:

As soon as our tool and safety talks were over on Monday morning the crew was hard at it quarrying diligently, and finding some amazing rocks. Katharine and I quickly decided that this crew was completely capable of taking on a few projects at the same time, and given the condition of the trail there was no shortage of those. By Monday afternoon we had opened up a can of worms that only crew leaders with massive amounts of faith in their crew would open. By the days end we had started three projects including a “6” (it turned out to be 10) step case, two double step check steps, and accumulated a bulldozer worthy pile of crush.

The Meal:

All volunteer crews build things on the trail, but how many take dinner to the level of fine art? Stir Fry night can be boring, predictable, and downright lame. Week after week of jamming trail crew quantities of the same old veggies and instant rice into the world’s smallest frying pans can lead to crew frustration and bland palate disorder. In order to prevent such problems and break the broken record pattern of manotiny we rose to the occasion and created a meal not soon to be forgotten. Armed with the trail wok, solution to holding massive quantities of vegetables; Katharine, the solution to blandness and predictability; and volunteers, the solution to not having broccoli animal carvings on your stir fry (Wait!?! Was that a problem? Well, we certainly had the solution.) we took Trail Crew meal time to an unsurpassed level. Yes folks, the following photos are evidence that we had fresh squeezed lime juice on our stir fry, and broccoli carvings of an Asian Elephant (notice the small ears), duckling, and person with crazy dreads to garnish our meal. And yes, in the lime juice picture I may be saying “Check this out Dodge Crew, Berkshires gettin’ fancy pants!” (or something to that effect).

After a fancy pants meal what do you do for dessert? Why a sunset hike up to picturesque Mt. Prospect of course. I would give that chain of events Five Stars. But we are not here to have fun! Oh no, there are rocks to roll, holes to dig, rocks to smash, and rocks to smash, and….well, you get it, crush-tastic amounts of work.

The Step:

Every once in a while something happens that makes a trail crew leader tear up and fill with parent like pride. The Step was one such occasion for me. As the week progressed our crew members skills developed rather rapidly. By Wednesday the whole crew was excelling, and everyone was working on their own projects, setting scree, steps, and making crush, with very little need for input from Katharine and I. At one point the trio working on setting steps called me over to ask what I thought of the whole they had dug for their step. I chuckled and told them that the hole looked wonderful, and at worst it might need a slight adjustment which we would figure out once it had been placed. The crew rolled the rock in the hole and it stuck with a slight awkward angle to it. They let out small sounds of disappointment, at which I chuckled because while the fit was not great, it was far from bad. I helped them roll the rock out and suggested that they shave a little dirt out of the hole. Two scoops of dirt later we re-rolled the rock. Plop...the crush, no wobble, flat, 7 inch rise, 12 inch run, 2 feet wide. The teens started laughing at me and my excitement. The perfect step. Everything about it had worked in our favor and it stuck in the hole that teen volunteers had dug (with very little crew leader input) perfectly. It doesn't get much better than that.

The End:

In the end we ended up with a beautiful staircase, two amazing check steps, a renovated/ rebuilt waterbar, and several reshaped and cleaned waterbars. It was a wonderful week from start to finish and we all felt accomplished and satisfied at the end.