Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hey, We're Back!

Well it's been (still is) a long winter.  Sitting here the day before the official arrival of Spring watching the sleet come down.  We have just posted our project schedule for the season, and it can be found here:

We've got some pretty interesting stuff lined up this season, and look forward to seeing you out there.  To help, we've started a Meetup Group, and you can check it out here:  If this is your thing, feel free to join up.  Of course, you can also just contact the leader of a project that piques your interest and join us that was as well.

There's about 40 members, and our first event of the year was our annual AT Volunteer Gathering on Feb 1st.  We had a great turnout of old and new AT folks.  At that meting, we began our project planning process for the 2014 work season.  How do we decide what to do?

First off, we gather reports from maintainers, ridgerunners and hikers over the course of the previous year as well as look at what kind of ongoing maintenance needs to be done on shelters, campsites, treadway and open areas.  Generally this list gets pretty long, but we break it down into some basic categories:

  • Annual Tasks--stuff that we need to do every season.  These are things like our "Blowdown Blitz", where we inspect every section of the Trail for downed trees and large branches, then organize sawyer crews (see ) to address each location with a significant problem--the goal is to have the Trail completely cleared by the end of May.  We also routinely have projects for mowing and clearing open fields, maintaining boundaries of AT Corridor Lands, opening and closing Upper Goose Pond Cabin, etc.
  • Privies and Overnight sites--there are always privies to move, shelters to repair, or campsites that need some work.  This year, we are adding some tenting areas near Kay Wood Shelter--it's a popular site, with only a few tenting locations near the shelter.  Hikers then head down near the water supply and set up there--not the best way to keep your water clean.  We're also making improvements to the front of the Wilbur Clearing Shelter--we've tried rock walls, but people keep pulling out the rocks and adding them to the fire pit.  So we are installing a metal fire pan, and rebuilding the front area with large timbers.
  • Wet Areas--no matter what we do, there always seems to be someplace that is wet or muddy.  When it's bad enough that hikers start walking around it--widening the footpath and damaging vegetation--we need to do something about it.  So bog bridges, step stones or turnpike are installed to keep folks on the straight and narrow.  We've got a number of projects including areas on Mt Greylock and Mt Race to address some perennially squishy sections of trail.
  • Treadway Hardening--ever been hiking along and realize you're walking in a trench instead of a trail?  Or felt yourself sliding sideways as the footpath crosses the side of a hill?  We'll be making some rock steps, check dams and improving side-hill trail on a couple of locations this summer.
  • Bridges--we had a big bridge project last year.  This year we'll be making small repairs on bridges near Mass Ave, and East Mountain.  We'll be replacing a bridge over the inlet to Upper Goose Pond.
  • Upper Goose Pond Cabin--In addition to the usual seasonal opening and closing, we'll be painting the north side and prepping the cabin for a major roof replacement which will happen next season (2015)  These projects are cleverly scheduled for August, so we can take a swim in the pond in the afternoon.
We've got lots of work to do, and have opportunities for volunteers of all experience levels and interests.  If you have questions about a project, contact the leader listed on the schedule, or email me at

See you out there!


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