Cool temperatures and cloudy skies did nothing to dissuade a couple dozen volunteers from being excited about a day of trail work. On the last Saturday of April I met up with Dave Brautigam, president of the Camel’s Hump Nordic Ski Area (CHNSA), nearly a dozen students from the Greenhouse environmental residential learning community at UVM, and just as many volunteers recruited by Dave. I had been working with Sophia Weiss, a UVM student and Greenhouse resident, to plan a day to get a group of students out on the trail. Having lived in the Greenhouse while I attended UVM, I was excited to develop a functional relationship between ecologically minded students and the CTA.
Despite the lack of sun and the chilly air moistened by rains the night before, everyone was happy to get outside for some spring cleaning. A convoy, led by a trailer full of students towed behind Dave’s tractor, headed for the hills of Huntington to reroute “Woodchuck Ramble”, which offers a beautiful hardwood forest tour. The brown, leaf covered forest floor was splashed with bright greens — trout lilies just starting to open yellow blossoms, trilliums, and wild leeks! I think everyone was excited to see the undeniable harbingers of spring, and I couldn’t wait to get home that night to make wild leek pizza.
Armed with loppers, hand saws, and a couple chainsaws, the large group split into two parties and tackled the proposed loop marked with pink flagging. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when you have so many helping hands! In under four hours a whole new trail had been cut, a huge downed beech tree was removed, and aside from a few places in need of leveling or stone removal, the new Woodchuck Ramble was ski-ready (except for the obvious lack of white).
We were able to admire our handiwork as well as some great views while eating lunch perched atop a nearby cliff. By then the sun was beginning to force its way through the clouds to offer a little warmth to the afternoon. As we walked back to where we had started, I was once again amazed at how much had been accomplished in such a short period of time.
As always, there is plenty of work to be done along the Catamount Trail this summer. Consider joining us for a day of work, and encourage a friend or two to join you! While we all can appreciate the beauty of the snow covered landscape, I can attest to the fact that cross country ski trails are equally as stunning during the warmer months. Trail work provides the perfect excuse to get outside and spend some time with friends. To learn more about our volunteer opportunities throughout the summer, check out http://catamounttrail.org/support-us/trail-work/. Thanks again to the UVM Greenhouse Students and others who joined Dave and myself; it was great to have such a force out on the trail!