There aren’t a lot of feelings on a trail project that are more satisfying for me than that moment when a rock finally shifts into the exact spot where you want it, and you know that it’s exactly where it needs to be—its “forever home,” as we’ve started referring to it. Rock work is seldom an exact science; it’s a lot about communication, intuition, and leverage. There isn’t usually just one way that will work to move and set a rock, but there are a lot of ways that can end up taking a long time and creating a lot of frustration. Building structures with rock can be one of the slowest...Read more
Hitch 7 was such a different hitch for me. We stayed in this U.S Fish and Wildlife house that used to be occupied by seasonal employees. It was on a wildlife refuge in Carlisle, which was just beautiful, and after what felt like endless hours of building boardwalk frame it was nice to explore; so I ran on the trails of the refuge. I used to hate running, but trail running has changed the way I feel about it all. It has suddenly become so easy to run long distances, while giving me a chance to explore all of the places we stay during hitch. I like that it makes me feel like I am getting...Read more
A stone wall lines the sides of the main entrance. A few tress outline the driveway, giving you a country-club feeling. As you go further down the road you get a peak of blue coming from behind tress and bushes. Then as you approach the visitor’s center, right there in all of it’s glory, a big deep blue blanket greats you with its incredible backdrop of trees and hillsides. The Quabbin greeted us each morning as we drove across the half-mile long dam to our worksites. 10 days surrounded by breath taking views, hard working and inspiring DCR workers, and the challenging fun of building...Read more
The five faithful, well-rested crewmembers were very excited about the place that their honorable James Simms would be sending them to on their next quest. They had heard rumors about 1400 feet of boardwalk to be completed, but were not fully enlightened as to the logistics of such a project. Trusting in their fearless Crew Leader, Soraya the Great, they ventured through a good part of the kingdom, the commonwealth of Massachusetts, relishing the quaint & rustic charm that the land is acclaimed for far and wide. The crew was very impressed upon...Read more
The ferns were as tall as me (though I’m only 5 foot 4), there were branched to duck under, prickly thorns grabbing at our legs, and rocks hiding under cover waiting to trip us. At times, we let our imagination run and we pretended we were in Jurassic Park. It sure felt like it as we trekked across the trail with our loppers, our chainsaw, our tools of trade. Each day was like a new adventure. A new quest to clear and improve the trail for our fellow outdoor explorers.
We began our day by driving to the trail head and unloading our gear and tools. Then, in order to assure were...Read more
As we approach our last 3 hitches I can’t help but feel I have been on a long, yet short, fast, yet slow, roller coaster. From the day-to-day and throughout the whole season this pattern holds true.
6:30 AM: I have just hopped on the roller coaster, strapping down my seatbelt. It is calm as I drink my coffee and prepare for the day. Much like the calm of heading up the first exciting drop off.
Now depending on the project, this phase is longer than others as you have a 40-minute or so commute to your work site. If you however are staying and working at the same...Read more
“It’s like a desert out here,” crew member Taylor said on our first hike in to the project site. And she wasn’t wrong. Sand, arid heat, and lack of shade - the typical components of a desert were all there. Our crew took the comment in silent nods as we admired the scraggily pitch pines, growing crooked and strong despite unfavorable conditions, and the ubiquitous green color. Every once in a while a complaint of heat and sweat was expressed as we hiked our pick mattocks, Pulaski, grub hoes, loppers, and root mattock to what would be our first...Read more
During our Education Season, in addition to my responsibilities as an environmental educator at Heath Elementary School, I was lucky enough to be selected for a Conservation Placement with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). In this capacity, I was charged with assisting DCR organize information about our proposed future trail projects for final review and permitting by various environmental, conservation, and historical commissions. Through this experience, I am able to look at many of the projects that we are undertaking with a unique perspective—that which comes from...Read more
There is no better time to learn about your fellow AmeriCorps members than during stretch circle. At other times of day you might ask your hitch mates how they’re doing, if they slept well, or how they feel about taking an early lunch. Boring! At stretch circle you are expected—no, required!—to pose more stimulating queries.
Every morning, before we begin building steps or retaining walls, before we ask our bodies to swing giant hammers or dig trenches, we take a few minutes to limber up. A good stretch circle begins with a good question. Each crew member has a chance to...Read more
I opened my eyes and in a half-asleep state saw the roof of my tent shaking and moving all over the place. It was a very windy morning and my watch read 5:30am. I stuck my head outside my sleeping bag to feel how cold it would be. It felt chilly, maybe 50 degrees Fahrenheit or so. I sleepily put on my work clothes, the same ones I had been wearing the past 5 days, and got ready for another day of adventures.
This was Friday, June 10th 2016, the last day of hitch #4. I had spent the week, along with 4 other corps members, working on opening old trails at Windsor State...Read more