In 1973 I moved from Ohio to Massachusetts and my first experience in the White Mountains was in 1974 on a week long backpack in Franconia Notch State Park. Being a typical flat lander I made all the classic mistakes; too much weight in my pack, misjudging how long a 7 mile hike in the Whites takes, and bringing way to much food and unnecessary gear. Shortly after that disastrous backpack I new I needed some guidance and I joined the AMC where I participated in many of the Boston and Worcester Chapter programs such as beginner backpacking, winter snow shoeing, winter camping, rock climbing. After honing my skills and gaining much needed experience I became a leader for the AMC's Mountain Leadership School, Winter Mountain Safety, and the joint ADK AMC Winter School. In 1984 shortly after the Adopt-A-Trail Program started I was approached by Guy and Laura Waterman about doing some trail work on the Franconia Ridge and that the Garfield Ridge Trail was available for adoption. After my first work trip I was hooked. I volunteered and maintained the Garfield Ridge Trail from Mt. Lafayette to the Garfield Trail Jct. for 20 years. The Garfield Ridge Trail offered both alpine and wilderness trail tending so I had the complete arena of trail tending from cleaning drainage, clearing blow downs, brushing, building cairns & scree walls. I decided a change of scenery was in order and I set my sights for the Crawford & Pinkham Notch areas where I continue to do volunteer trail work for both the USFS as co-adopter for the Crawford Path and AMC's Clay Loop trail. Hiking remote areas and trail tending have become my passion so as an active steward I continue to give back to the mountains & trails I enjoy so much.
Submitted by: Barbara Kukla
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
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
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
CEY’s Cliff Notes Version of Young Members Alpine Trail Crew Week:
- I cut down a tree. On a 24 hour mountain bike course.
- We hiked above a rainbow. I mean, seriously?
- Got our day going with a daily dance that involved imitating animals.
- Tecla has the incredible ability to hang out on the top of newly built rock
- I have a newfound love and appreciation for Snicker Breaks!
- We had a ton of fun playing weird games, including one with strange loud noises, attracting the attention of campers nearby.
- 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.
- The food was really, really yummy – both at Dodge (thanks to Sarah) and in the backcountry (thanks to Hannah).
- Hiking back down towards Pinkham, we see a moose. Really cool.
- We had the most incredible leaders – thank you Hannah and Tecla!
Submitted by Colleen Yout
On Tuesday morning Phil called me. Told me we had a great crew on our hands. One of those productive, fun, happy crews. All they needed was more fruit. This is music to my Regional Trail Coordinator ears. I hiked them up a 25 pound watermelon, pre sliced even. On the hike up, with the cardboard box saturated in watermelon, dripping into the plastic bag, perched on alternating Regional Trails Coordinator shoulders, I found my whole Regional Trails Coordinator self coated in some of the most delicious Organic Watermelon Juice.
Totally worth it. It was a pleasure to meet all these guys and girls, Phil and Katharine set a classy example and ran a tight ship, and well, we will let the pictures do the rest of the rambling:
(except to say that I love that in the mean-muggin' picture they were too tough to even stop moving a rock to scowl at the camera.) (and to say there were tons of GREAT photos taken by our sharp new camera, see them all at http://picasaweb.google.com/amcberkshire)
A beautiful Sunday afternoon kicked off our second Berkshire Teen Trail Crew of the summer. All nine teens arrived at the KCC, quiet, and maybe unsure of what to expect. It didn’t take long for everyone to warm up, and by the end of the week, these kids had become carpentry and digging experts.
Our week’s project was to revamp the Wilbur’s Clearing Campsite on
Each night ended with a delicious dessert, especially brownies. After trying Phil’s delicious brownies in the beginning of the week, I decided to try my hand at baking, which led to a disastrous evening snack. I had created chewy brownies that turned brittle once in your mouth, and were near impossible to remove from the cooking pan. A few people said they enjoyed these brownies, though most suffered through and eventually couldn’t take anymore of the burnt treat.
This week wasn’t all work and dirt. One day included a hike to the scenic Wilbur’s Clearing, and another day featured a crazy hike to the summit, complete with ice cream, fresh water, and…milk! A trip to the top of the lighthouse was also in order, and Grayson determined that there were 90 steps in the entire thing. Evening thunderstorms kept everyone in their tents (and miraculously dry), though even then card games prevailed. Tent scares, age-guessing games, and s’mores kept everyone entertained, and hopefully concluded the week with some good memories and experiences.
Three of the crews have spent their time up at lonesome lake, making excellent headway on the gargantuan bog-bridging project taking place,--which includes ripping out and installing two hundred Pree-fab bog Bridges, along with a few native bridges. At this point in the season we are closing in on the half way mark of bridges to be installed. Keep on Bog Bridging!!!!!!!
The Crew up at Dream lake was also tearing it up on the bog bridge front--literally, they "tour" out all of the old mungy bridges and replaced all of them with brand new squeaky clean pre-fab bridges. Initially this was planned to be a two week project, but the first crew cranked out all of the work in a week--Shigadang!!!!
Other crews have been busy rockin' out some rock work over at pleasant mt, as well as house sitting for the great Andrew Norkin, and re-claiming the dry river trail on Mt. Washington--which had been overtaken by brush and brambles.
Rock on Dodge crews,
submitted by MattyZane
After four weeks of training last Sunday marked a momentous occasion for the Berkshire Teen Trail Crew Program…the arrival of teens! I personally was convinced that they were never coming, and was therefore pleasantly surprised when all but two of our nine participants arrived. I was even more surprised to note that they all seemed to be toting remarkably well packed backpacks and large smiles. I liked this crew already! Our week was to be spent on the side of
This being both Valerie’s and my first time leading trail crews I think we were mutually convinced that something was going to go wrong. However, due to a rockin’ crew and some good luck on our side we made it though the week without a hitch. Our biggest problem, (which depending on who you talk to could be considered a blessing) was a mass quantity of food. Down two participants we were already in for some trouble on the food front. Add in the fact that many of our participants weighed less than just one of the three bear bags we had stuffed full and you can begin to grasp the severity of the situation. After a few dinners where people were near explosion from trying to clean the pan we began to catch on to the fact that we really only needed about half of what we’d planned for. I am very proud (do I dare to say most?) of the amount of cheese we managed to consume this week. Despite much skepticism from staff and crew alike we ate 11.5 of our 12 original pounds. As a wise person once said “the only thing that cheese needs is more cheese!”
With our bellies full we managed to complete our five bog bridges, one water bar, two mini staircases, a check step, clear three drainages and brush in some braided trail spots. Not to mention we played an insane amount of a card game know as ERS, some hilarious rounds of a sheraids type game and had enough discussions about Napoleon and world history to make any professor proud. It was great to see everything finally come together and really beginningg to see what this program is all about. We could not have asked for a better crew for our first week and I am so grateful for all the hard work they put into the trail. All in all a great start to our summer!
For me, this was my first experience leading teenagers into the woods. I had really no idea what it would be like to interact with, hang out, and work with this age group. I was excited and bit nervous, but who wouldn’t be? Overall I would say the week went smooth. There were some minor bumps in the road that Ack and I dealt with, but in the end no one was hurt and everyone seemed to enjoy the work they accomplished.
Our main projects were on the Peabody Brook trail, next too Dream Lake. What appeared to be the work of the beavers, two large pools had formed, and sunk the bog bridges. Each pool was over two feet deep ( not including the depth of the mud) and at least 20 feet long. Our job was to dig two large drainages and several small bleeders with the hope that with some sun the area can dry out. Then we had to rip out all the old bog bridges, evaluate the material and decide whether or not to reuse it, or have someone take it back to the woods to rot away. We had several stacks of various new materials, stringers and base logs, ready and waiting. Our last step was to construct new bridges with mostly new and some old materials. The installation of prefabricated bridges goes very quickly, once someone gains the knowledge of how to put them in, bog bridging becomes a very fast moving project. However there are two major things that can make a project slow down. One, when you have to crib bridges together. This means run two logs under what would be the normal base logs and spike it to them. This connects the bridges together so when the water rises, your bridges don’t float away.
The other process that can slow down your project is when you have to construct materials out of native trees. This has to be done when you need a long bridge of if you run out of base logs. This highlight of my trip was the felling I did of a tree to construct more base logs. Because of all the cribbing that had to be done to cross the mud pits we were in need of some more base logs. On the Wednesday of our trip me and 3 members embarked on a mission. I instructed the members of my crew that were helping me on the good traits of a tree when bringing it down. Dan on the crew was the one who found our great tree. Fat base, tall, strait, with a clean falling zone and it even was a Spruce. It was the prefect tree, or at least I think it is.
After the tree was chosen we began the prep work, clearing escape paths and the area all around the tree. The fist part of getting a tree to fall safely, is to create the hinge. This is down with the axe. I was responsible for this step. If the hinge is done right you can get a tree to fall in a controlled direction. I created the hinge with my axe and now it was the volunteers turn to finish the felling of the tree. Dan and Zuben, took the cross cut and made the back cut in the perfect spot, one inch above the bottom of the notch. I told Dan and Zuben to stop and step back, fear of cutting two close to the hinge. I barely poked the tree and I hear Rich, "Falling!" Crash. The tree landed right in the spot I wanted it to, perfect landing. I was very pleased with myself and the group for felling a tree safely and correctly. The tree ended up being about 50 feet tall and approximately 85 years old.
After having hard working days, Ack and I would cook for the boys, they were always eager and willing to eat. Sometimes though Ack and I would have to stuff them up. Leftovers, ha, what are leftovers? On the last morning we were in the woods Ack and I both woke up to the sound of smashing logs and scraping brush. Ack was groggy enough to think what he saw was a kid, at first. It turned out to be a moose, no closer then 15 feet away from our tent. It had run vigorously away from us when Ack had yelled at it.
When reflecting about time in the woods, I find that I do not really think about how cold or wet I ever was. I focus on the highs. It did rain on us for most of the week, but we as a group were warm, for the most part, and we got a good chunk of work completed. This week was a great way to start the summer, adventures waiting around every turn in the trail.
Submitted by: Goose