Project Leader: Drew Foreman Project Dates: May 17,2010 - November 15,2010 Email Address: Aforeman@thesca.org
The final hitch. The crescendo of our conservation composition. Crosscut saws singing, axes splitting wood in their familiar rhythm; each team member grabs their instrument and plays their part. The cadence of our work together improving with every hitch. The physical and emotional weight of spending six days at a time in the backcountry continuously gains significance. Nothing is convenient. Everything we want to bring must be hauled several miles. This job necessitates an active approach to life and work. You can’t hang in the shadows and be a passive observer. You’re a part of a crew, and your actions reverberate throughout the entire group.
As the season has progressed, the trails we’ve worked on have taken on a life of their own. Almost every inch of Ramsey’s Draft and Jerry’s Run trails was intimately scrutinized by our crew. A forest now full of memories for each member of the team. We behave like doting parents when discussing these trails. Proud of our achievements and sincerely aware of our part in the bigger picture of conservation, we enjoy nothing more than prattling on about our work to anyone willing to listen. How many people get to say that they begin a work-day waking up on top of a mountain, in the snow, to a vivid, frozen, red sunrise?
Of all the statistics we’ve provided on this blogish website thing, the most significant are these: six months, six people. This amount of communal interaction is absolutely staggering. I’ve spent more time with my trail crew than all but my immediate family. Night after night, stargazing in the middle of the wilderness. Reliving the day, venting frustrations, discussing our fears, and sharing our dreams. Pressing someone‘s readily accessible buttons. Eyeing each others’ portions of food as we work out six days of rations in our minds. “Whoah, hold up there buddy. I think you’ve had a little too much of the quinoa.” The life of a trail-worker is socially demanding. Each member filling a certain niche in the group. Everyone plays specific roles during the workday, while cooking at camp, or while sitting around a fire. Every day is its own intricate dance. Sometimes we find the groove. Sometimes we’re crushing toes.
Yeah it’s an obvious, silly metaphor, but throughout our maintenance of these trails, the corridor of my own life has gained lucidity and purpose. I’ve learned how to live and work aware of the significance of every moment. It’s amazing what you notice when your mind isn’t preoccupied. Being able to take a minute to appreciate a caterpillar might not seem like a valuable skill in today’s workforce, but life is full of beautiful, tiny moments. Learning to become fully immersed in these moments has made me a happier, healthier, and more productive person.
This hitch concludes our strange, transformative, wilderness journey. Each of us are going our separate ways; to periodically live with parents (don‘t act like you didn‘t miss us), to finish school, to join the Navy (good luck Spencer!), to lead trail crews of our own, and to explore the rest of this ridiculously awesome world we live in. Each new moment is a stepping stone across a constantly changing stream (or draft…).