This post was written by Lorne Currier, GMC Outreach & Field Coordinator.
After months of planning and a wild three weeks of work, the Outdoor Orientation Service Trip season has come to a close! Starting on August 21st and ending on September 9th, the Green Mountain Club led 16 volunteer service projects, providing 150 participants from 9 different Outdoor Orientation Programs an opportunity to perform trail work on the Long Trail and Northeast Kingdom trail systems. Whether they were building bog-bridges or carrying bark mulch to composting privies, each Outdoor Orientation trip participant gained a strengthened connection between fellow trip members, an increased sense of environmental stewardship, and a greater understanding of the efforts which go into protecting and maintaining the Long Trail.
We finished this season with close to 1,000 volunteer hours – thank you to the GMC volunteers and staff for assisting in leadership and to the Outdoor Orientation Program Directors and First-Year students who chose to start their college experience by volunteering on the Long Trail. Let’s take a look at what everyone accomplished:
18 participants from Ohio University Outdoor Pursuits carried bark mulch to Sterling Pond and replaced string on the Long Trail corridor within Mt. Mansfield’s alpine zone.
Yale FOOT persevered through a muddy and wet day installing puncheon on the Long Trail within the Lye Brook Wilderness. This group received many thanks from passing hikers as their feet received a brief reprieve from a late summer Vermud.
22 Students from University of Vermont TREK assisted the Green Mountain Club’s Construction Crew in the transportation of material to and from the Cowles Cove Shelter renovation project.
Northern Vermont University at Lyndon lent a hand to the Camel’s Hump Caretakers by carrying 8 bags of bark mulch to the composting privies at Hump Brook Tenting Area and Montclair Glen Lodge.
Tufts Wilderness Orientation pioneered Outdoor Orientation Service Projects on the GMC’s Northeast Kingdom Trails. Two 10-person groups spent three days cutting tread for the new Bluff Ridge Trail which will stretch from the village of Island Pond 8 miles north to the Unknown Pond Trail. This project would not have been possible without the increased efforts of Tufts Wilderness Orientation, Northwoods Stewardship Center, GMC’s Northeast Kingdom Section, and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.
Two 10-person groups from Harvard FOP contributed to the stubborn task of removing puncheon from the closed North Shore Trail at Stratton Pond. Wallowing through the brush and muck while attempting to haul waterlogged, rotten, and extremely heavy pieces of lumber out of the ground is not an easy task.
Sterling College ran five Outdoor Orientation backpacking trips on the Long Trail this August. A work college located in Craftsbury Common, VT, trips took place north of Rt. 15 and each trip contributed one day to a specific trail project, completing a significant amount of work on the northern part of the Long Trail. This was an excellent first experience for Sterling College students to engage with what will be their recreational backyard for the next 4 years.
With the Pine Cobble Trail starting just feet from the Williams College campus in Williamstown, MA, the trail crew trip from Williams Outdoor Orientation for Living as First-Years has been a decades-long partner for completing critical projects in far southern VT. In 2018 Williams installed bog bridges between Seth Warner Shelter and County Rd. while also improving some of the drainage structures on that stretch of trail.
The Long Trail crossing at Middlebury Gap is only a 25-minute drive from the center of Middlebury College. Even closer, the Bread Loaf School of English campus is a tantalizing 5 minutes from the Long Trail crossing. With the Joseph Battell Wilderness to the south and the Breadloaf Wilderness to the north, the GMC provided these 9 students with an intimate introduction to the 37,000 acres of Federal Wilderness Area directly in their backyard. The 2018 MiddView Trail Crew worked in the Breadloaf Wilderness, clearing drainages on a 2.9-mile section of the Long Trail between Middlebury Gap and Boyce Shelter. They also spent a half day clearing the corridor for a short relocation of the Long Trail north of Boyce Shelter which will bring the trail out of a wet and eroded section and onto dry, well-graded terrain.
Do you have a group you’d like to get involved with Long Trail service projects? Please contact our Outreach & Field Coordinator. If you’d like to volunteer on your own, check out our opportunities here.