Race Brook Stewardship Crew - Week 8

Another two week crew and another great bunch of volunteers has come and gone. It always amazes me how much more a crew can get done when they have that second week where everyone knows what's up and is ready to "get'er done" as they say. Our project for these weeks brought us to the Race Brook Falls trail, a feeder trail to the At, and a very popular day hike. It also happens to be right in our backyard, literally just a few miles down the road from the office. Being so close we got lots of visitors and helpers out for a day or afternoon of fun. Because of the popularity of the trail it has experienced a serious amount of blow out over the years. There are sections that are over fifteen feet wide! Our goal was to reclaim the trail where we could, install cribbing to retain soil and keep hikers from venturing any farther into the forest, and add strategically placed brush and stairs to direct hikers.

Although some of us were a bit reluctant to part from our usual rock work life, we had a great time learning some new skills and playing with trees. The Monty Python "I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay" song could be hear throughout the forest at we hacked, sawed and skinned our way through the week. We even got the chance to build a wooden staircase with some of the logs that were too big for cribbing. A bit like playing with Lincoln logs, this was definitely the favorite project among many of the volunteers.

Being a two week crew, we like to add in some bonus activities to keep things fun and prevent burn out. Besides multiple swimming trip and a BBQ we also had a sunrise pancake breakfast on the top of Race Mt. It took some work on our parts to convince a crew of teenagers that it was a good idea to get up at four in the morning and hike to the top of a mountain, but in the end they all agreed it was definitely worth it. We were a little worried that it would be cloudy and that our hike would be for nothing. Well we were right about the clouds, but they had a surprising effect. The cloud cover sat low in the valley and as we were high atop a mountain it made for a sea of white below us, with the occasional mountain peak poking through looking remarkably like islands. Finish it off with chocolate chip pancakes and you get nothing short of perfection!

Over the two weeks the crew had ample opportunity to practice their authority of the resource skills that they acquired on their weekend of leave no trace training. It is always entertaining to see who you'll get to share the woods with, but I think these two weeks take the cake! Connor would have been so proud if he could have heard them discussing the LNT principles and trying to share the knowledge. With our evening entertainment covered the crew had more time to rest up and were on their game every day. In the end we put in one small rock staircase, over 300 feet of cribbing and brushing, a wooden staircase and waterbar and lots of side hilling and fill to top it off. A very productive crew and lots of fun to hang out with. I really enjoyed getting to see both weeks and watch as both the group dynamic as well as their skills at trail work developed. To close it out I'll leave you with these finally thoughts from Monty Python. "I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay. I sleep all night. I work all day. I cut down trees. I eat my lunch. I go to the lavatory. On Wednesday I go shoppin' and have buttered scones for tea!"