My crewmates and I had good reason to look forward to our arrival in Hunterdon County. SCA staffers from DC, New Hampshire, and Pittsburgh had teamed up to form an employee crew, and they were waiting at our destination to assist us in our Sandy-relief efforts.
The eight of them — Nelson Bruni, Will Kirkpatrick, Melissa Patterson, Rachel Lettre, Lori Robertson, Ted Miller, Matt Entwhistle, and Daniel Parr — swelled our ranks by more than double, plus added an incalculable degree of additional expertise. Will, Nelson, and Melissa in particular, showed up with a bag of saw and rope tricks that invigorated the crew and noticeably upped our efficiency.
During our time with the employee crew, we split up to tackle two different state parks: Round Valley and Vorhees. We were received with exceptional enthusiasm at both of them. John Tronti, former manager of nearby Tetertown Mountain Reserve, came by to thank us personally. I led my first SCA High School Crew at Tetertown almost 9 years ago, and John and I remembered each other from way back then. Diane Lowrie, head of the New Jersey State Parks Trails Department, not only brought us hot chocolate, but she took us out for calzones one night and invited us to her house for dinner the next! Between Diane and the SCA staff crew taking us out to eat on their first night in town, we’ve worked almost at hard at eating this week as we have at carving up downed trees!
Our last day with the staff crew was Thursday, and today, Friday, is our only day off. We’re back to work at 8 AM tomorrow, with just the five of us, starting in on the mess at Stokes State Forest. We expect to encounter some heavy blowdowns with major twists and binds for us to think through before we put the ol’ chain to fiber. If the weather stays as nice as it’s been the past few days though, we ought to have a pretty good time.
It will be a bittersweet feeling when this crew finishes up and parts ways. We’ll have accomplished much in two short weeks, but there will still be plenty left to do. Some parks may not reopen until after the New Year.