October 31 – November 9, 2011
The Florida Trail Corps team kicked off their work week on Halloween, but we did not dress up and collect candy from strangers. Instead we maintained a section of trail with the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge volunteers. I know, it does not sound too traditional, but we did paint festive orange blazes on trees, as well as make a couple new friends. One man in particular stood out, his name was Dale and he possesses an elephant load of information about the state of Florida and its natural wonders. One fun fact he shared with us was this stuff called “lighter wood” which are remnant pieces of pine trees that contain concentrated resin within the wood. The wood tends to be quite heavy and used by people for torches because of the tremendous length of time it took to burn. Pretty cool stuff if I do say so myself.
The rest of the week included much more trail maintenance with our Weekday Warriors also known as the Florida Trail Association’s dedicated volunteers that come help us each week with work. We all finally got a taste of working within wilderness areas, and became familiar with creating a wide path without the help of lawn mowers and brush cutters. Let me fill you in, the work tends to be slow paced and pretty rough on the hands, but the rougher the work the tougher the team gets. It also included more preparation for our big volunteer event on November 19. That consisted of contacting more potential service partners as well as finalizing some minute details for volunteers to come work with us on the trail.
The last couple days of the hitch, the team learned they’d become somewhat local celebrities. Our awesome friend Cynthia Paulson wrote an article about us in the local newspaper Chuck Spicer’s Forgotten Coastline. She mentioned fun information about each member of the team, as well as information about the SCA and what the Florida Trail Corps team set out to do in northern Florida this season. Hopefully Michael Swanberg can keep on “Smiling his wholesome all-American smile…” to attract those lady volunteers to the trail. Emily can catch the male volunteer’s attention with her “…charming vivacious conservation…” and before you know it the FTA will double in size! (Yes these are direct quotes from the article. :)) We also may be featured in WFSU’s piece focusing on the Florida Trail. We went out on a hike with Kent, and a crew from WFSU who were filming scenic views from the trail, as well as interviewing Kent Wimmer about how awesome the Florida National Scenic Trail really is.
So to sum up our work week, we met a really cool volunteer, toughened our bodies up, and became local celebrities. Pretty neat huh?
– Michael Marchetti