Yup. This is a photo of new caretakers learning how to compost human waste, and learning how to do so in the rain.
As one can surmise, this line of work is not for the squeamish or faint of heart. When we pull out the collection bin for the first time, watching the expressions pass across the faces of the new caretakers is that mix of confusion, realization, and intrigue. By the end of the training day, it is total comfort with this very dirty job, albeit a dirty job that has a beauty in simplicity: with the aid of a pitchfork and bark mulch, a single caretaker can turn 80 gallons of human waste into dirt, and the entire fleet of campsites composts about 2,400 gallons annually.
|New caretakers Steve Grant, Margaret Douglas, and Aaron Emerson and their new scree wall they built.|
But while caretakers are most proud of their work as outhouse managers, they also maintain trail,
rehabilitate impacted areas, and educate hikers. Thus, we have a 10 day crash course in all-things-dirty: moving rocks, cleaning drainages, transplanting trees and, of course, composting human waste. We also structure as much time as possible where one on one learning can occur from returning caretakers as well as the senior staff ourselves.
While the jobs themselves test the mettle of each staff person, the infamous White Mountain weather does its part as well. This year we witnessed a little bit of everything for weather during this time: clear and dry, hot and humid, thunderstorms, and of course cold and raw and damp.
We have been fortunate to have our program highlighted in the member magazine, AMC Outdoors, this spring. Our very own Justin Martin, who is now located at 13 Falls, is featured through a beautiful photo essay. Point of interest: the photographer, Ryan Smith, was also a caretaker for a number of years in this very same program. You can find a link to the story here.
The caretakers for 2015 hail from far and wide, and from all backgrounds, ages, and abilities. What draws them together as a common unit is their desire to do good work, and their independent drive. And while it has been less than a week, the signs point towards a good strong season in the backcountry.
Without further ado, may I introduce the 2015 caretaker roster:
Kinsman Pond: Dylan Summers (3rd Year)
Liberty Springs: Steve Grant (1st Year)
Garfield Ridge: Charlotte Copp (1st Year)
West Rotator: Nate Norris (1st Year)
13 Falls: Justin Martin (2nd Year)
Guyot: Quinn Nichols (1st Year)
Ethan Pond: Adam Haley (2nd Year)
Middle Rotator: Hamish Gibbs (1st Year)
Nauman: Margaret Douglas (1st Year)
Imp: Declan Scannell (2nd Year)
Speck! Pond: Aaron Emerson (1st Year)
East Rotator: David Zebrowski (1st Year)
Mahoosuc Rover: James Vittetau (4th Year)
Field Coordinator: Joe Roman (4th Year)
Group Outreach Coordinator: Jack Markoski (1st Year)
Labels: Backcountry Caretaker