Green Mountain Club Caretakers are the public face of the GMC and are true stewards of Vermont’s Long Trail system. The program as we know it was born during the hiking boom of the 1970’s, but individuals have been caring for the Long Trail and its shelters since the GMC was founded in 1910. Caretakers employ hiker education and backcountry stewardship at the Green Mountains’ most popular hiking areas in order to promote Leave No Trace principles and to protect Vermont’s natural resources. Caretakers work throughout the Green Mountains, either in conjunction with the other caretakers on the mountain or as solo agents (see location descriptions below).
During the months of peak hiking activity, caretakers are stationed at overnight campsites associated with vulnerable natural areas. Caretakers live at their assigned sites four nights a week from June to October, with two days off a week. Workweeks are divided between trail maintenance and educating hikers at a summit or pond. Each caretaker is assigned ten to twenty miles of trail to maintain, which includes including clearing drainages, cutting branches back from the trail corridor, clearing fallen trees and brush, and repainting signs and blazes. During summit or pond duty, caretakers station themselves at their assigned day use area and engage the hiking public in conversations about low-impact hiking practices and about the fragile natural areas which support many rare and endangered species.
Caretakers are responsible for their own food and transportation to/from the trailhead and days off. Green Mountain Club provides tents or shelters, stoves, stove fuel, tools, field guides, maps, and informational resources. Communal day-off housing is available in Waterbury Center and Danby, VT.
Southern Vermont: Caretaker in Southern Vermont work on the Long Trail/Appalachian Trail within the Green Mountain National Forest. Three Caretakers are assigned to sites near fragile backcountry ponds that are heavily used by hikers and campers. There is also one Coolidge Range Ridgerunner who maintains about 30 miles of trail and four shelters in the Killington Peak area. Southern Caretakers are directly supervised by the Lead Caretaker for Southern VT.
Northern Vermont: Caretakers in Northern Vermont are stationed on peaks which feature fragile alpine ecosystems. Northern caretakers participate in summit duty multiple times a week to educate visitors. Three caretakers are assigned to the Camel’s Hump summit and shelters, supervised by the on-site Camel’s Hump Lead Caretaker. Four caretakers are assigned to the Mount Mansfield summit and shelters, supervised by the on-site Mansfield Lead Caretaker. There is one caretaker each at Sterling Pond and Mount Abraham who report directly to their assigned Field Assistant.
Applications for the 2020 Field Season will open in the second week of December.
2020 Position Dates:
Full Season: May 28th – October 16th
Summer Season: May 28th – August 14th
Fall Season: August 10th – October 16th
Commitment to full season preferred.
Schedule: Five days per week, typically including weekends. Camping on-site required four nights per week. Specific days off assigned during orientation.
Compensation: $450/week, plus housing for days off
Supervisor: Lead Caretakers, Field Assistant
Backcountry Caretaker Responsibilities:
- Educate hikers about fragile ecosystems at high-use sites along the Long Trail.
- Maintain assigned backcountry facilities, including privies.
- Maintain 10 – 20 miles of hiking trail using hand tools.
- Staff designated overnight site four nights per week, including collecting use fees and acting as knowledge resource for campers.
- Collect visitor use data at overnight site and at pond or summit.
- Submit weekly shift reports and group use feedback forms.
- Write formal End of Season report if leaving in October or informal mid-season report if leaving in August.
- Encourage and model Leave No Trace practices and low impact behaviors on trails and at summits, ponds, camping areas, and backcountry shelters.
- Serve as professional backcountry representative of the GMC, both as knowledge source and as behavioral role model.
- Carry first aid kit and sufficient supplies to travel safely in the backcountry at all times.
- Voluntarily participate in Search and Rescue operations.
- Assist with weekly cleaning of staff housing.
Backcountry Caretaker Qualifications:
- Strong backpacking and outdoor skills
- Ability to live independently and work in a remote area with little supervision
- Comfort working multiple days outdoors in sometimes adverse weather conditions
- Comfort with basic hand tools (trail maintenance training provided during orientation)
- Ability to perform difficult manual labor and to carry heavy loads as a regular part of the workday
- Knowledge of Leave No Trace principles (training provided during orientation)
- Ability to effectively communicate with individuals and groups
- Environmental and/or outdoor education experience preferred
- Basic knowledge of Long Trail/Appalachian Trail system
- Wilderness First Aid certification (class available free-of-charge during orientation)
- Must be willing to work weekends
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