Follow Me: SCA member blogs from the field

Follow Me is the place to read field dispatches from SCA members serving the planet all over the USA.

Image 1: Hiking Static Peak, Elevation 11,303 feet

The wild that we always see in movies and in parks is very different from the human lifestyle, from civilization. Most of the people in the US do not live by the wild, and have no knowledge in how to survive or deal with it.

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Aboard the Serac, the Park research vessel, we bob gently in Aialik Bay, listening to the sound of gulls, surf, and an ancient tidewater glacier calving. Every 5 minutes or so, a piece of the massive ice wall half a mile ahead rips away with a noise like thunder and gunshots all at once, plunging into the sea below and sending up a cloud of spray.

Back in January, when I was still learning about all of the different events which we would be taking part during our 10 month program, someone told me about an SCA AllCorps gathering taking place in July.

(above) This picture taken after dominating the last bit of trail and hiking out laden with tools.

Today we filled up another truck load of herbicide and took the jugs out to the great marsh. We strapped on our backpack sprayers and the five of us continued to march up and down the twenty acre plot, making sure that even the littlest of Cattail would not be able to reach maturity. When I am spraying, people passing by often ask me questions as to what I am doing and why.

At the fire hall, tension crackled. In between gleaming fire engines, volunteers in rain gear and torn flannel murmured to each other, speculating about the lost racer—where he was last seen, what he was wearing, where he might have gone off the narrow race trail and into the bush.

Jennica getting a letter!

1. Nature’s Alarm Clock. I strategically position my tent on each hitch to face the rising sun. I tend to be restless in the morning anyway, meaning I frequently wake up and fall back asleep. After a few days, it’s pretty easy to remember where the sun is at certain times, and judge when it’s time to get the stove fired up for oatmeal!

An Elk herd passing by the road near the dam.

Experience is everything, ranging from surviving skills in wild expeditions to work experience in different areas of interest. I have learned that reading material on the internet or books will not get people the real life experience where they can feel, smell, see, or suffer though different situations.

Standing precariously on a gravelly chunk of riverbank, I reach over a thick sheaf of willow cuttings to grab the bucket being waved in front of me. And nearly drop it—it feels like cement hung from my hands. Pointy stems dig into my stomach; overhanging cottonwood branches brush my eyelids.

We are now into our second week of our first hitch. We are the first ever NH Corps crew to have a full hitch in Maine. The project is to replace a boardwalk through the Saco Heath near the mouth of the Saco River in South East Maine. A heath is a form of a bog. In Saco, two adjacent ponds were filled in with peat.

At the end of the Harding Icefield Trail, it feels like the end of the world.

There is no grand finale, no plunging cliff, no soaring overlook. Just flags through the snow, and tracks, and then nothing. Snow, and rock, and Exit Glacier, and the far reaches of the Harding Icefield on the horizon, still heavy-coated with thick sugary white.

Erryday I’m shovelin’. (Shovelin’, shovelin’.)

Shovelin’ out the Harding Icefield Trail, that is—scooping snow out of the track, piling it on switchbacks or trampled vegetation to protect plants and the trail from erosion.

This is my first SCA internship. Right now, I’m on my first hitch doing conservation work for the first time. I’m living in a large community, cooking and doing chores on a mass scale – all for the first time.

On January 6th, when a fellow member Stamati picked me up in New York to go to Bear Brook we talked at length of what it would be like. What would the cabins be like? How do we cook?

Now that our trail was finished all we needed to do was build the benches and trashcan holder in order to complete our project. But we ran into a few bumps along the road, at first the wood wasn’t in on time and when it came in it wasn’t the correct kind. Luckily Bobby was nice enough to take it to the store and exchange it that same day.

“Stupendous.”
“Singularly stupendous.”
“Indeed, simply marvelous, sir.”
“Even though the rain put a dapper on the day, it was splendid nonetheless.”
“DAMPER, not dapper, you idiot.”
“Quit being such a nuisance.”

They call over to us as we cross the Exit Glacier parking lot. “Hey, are we a nuisance yet?”

I can’t help but burst out laughing at the YCCs.

I like to rock climb, a lot. When I looked at this internship based out of Bear Brook State Park, the second thing I did was find out the location of the nearest cliff/boulder field. Since coming to New Hampshire, I’ve been able to get around to some really cool places. My friend Scott and I went to Franconia Notch State Park to climb Cannon Cliff.

“EPMT training, day four: Today, I pulled out baby trees by the roots and left them by the side of the road to die. And I feel great about it.” I pulled a mock sad face.

One of the biotechs working in eastern Alaska laughed. “You should totally feel great about doing some good for the ecosystem.” She hefted a bright orange weed wrench and grinned.

Double rainbow, coming from grocery shopping on the way to Colter Bay, sweet first day!

Another of my travel adventures begins. This time I get to intern in one the most awesome parks in the U.S. I was so happy to be placed close to mountains, whereas in Texas you barely see anything sticking out of the ground.

My first couple of days here I met most of the people I’ll be working with.

The Houston crew started off first thing Monday morning with orientation at the office. Everyone was able to meet for the first time, learn the names of tools they’d be using and learn what projects they will be doing in the next six weeks. Orientation also gave students a chance to get a feel for what they would be doing out in the field.

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