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Long Path/Shawangunk Ridge Trail Crew
C O N T I N U E T H E A D V E N T U R E
VOLUNTEER WITH THE LONG PATH/SRT CREW FOR A WORK DAY OR WORKSHOP
Working along the Long Path and Shawangunk Ridge Trail in the western Hudson Valley
Work trips led by the Trail Conference's on-staff trail builder/educator, the LP/SRT field manager, and AmeriCorps members involve a variety of tasks, such as: prepping work sites, quarrying and/or splitting stone, creating crushed stone, building crib walls, creating tread, and setting rock steps in addition to more traditional trail maintenance activities along Long Path and the Shawangunk Ridge Trail.
Bring your lunch, plenty of water, sturdy workshoes, and long pants. Tools, materials, and training will be provided. Also provided are gloves, safety glasses, and hard hats, which are REQUIRED while on the worksite.
The Crew works on the Long Path and the Shawangunk Ridge Trails, two New York long distance trails created and managed by the Trail Conference.
The Long Path extends for 356 miles from Fort Lee Historical Park in New Jersey in the south to John Boyd Thacher State Park near Albany in New York in the north. The Long Path is a thread connecting many of New York's parks, preserves, and state forest lands, along with connections to other long distance trails including the Appalachian Trail, the Finger Lakes Trail and the Shawangunk Ridge Trail.
The Shawangunk Ridge Trail begins at High Point State Park in New Jersey and runs 71 miles northward along the dramatic Shawangunk Ridge to the Mohonk Preserve.
Trail Crew Trips: Summer 2015
Join our Trail Crew working on trails on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays starting in May.
May 14, 2015 - Greetings and salutations from the one and only Long Path/SRT crew. I am being serious when I say 'one and only', as I am currently waiting on the rest of the crew to arrive. In the meantime, LP/SRT is hanging out with the other (but let's face it, less awesome) crews from AmeriCorps and we are all hard at work mastering the tools of the trade to provide the best experience for you, the volunteers.
AmeriCorps was at Bear Mountain this past weekend working on a planned reroute of the Appalachian Trail up near the summit. Anyone who may have stumbled on this section knows that it's really great...up to a point, and then it turns into a sandy, ungrippable nightmare. It was our job to fix it, and to do that, we needed to move some rocks. Lots of rocks. A whole mess of them; most weighing more than you and I, combined. I am happy to report that while many of the new stairs to Bear Mountain put up a fight, and we applaud their effort in this drawn out battle, in the end we were victorious. Myself and the others stood triumphant over our quarry, as happy as Hemingway must have been out in the safari during his hunting days.
After days of backbreaking labor - rockbars, rock nets, grip hoists - we took it easy (comparatively speaking, of course) on the final day of our hitch. We traded in the blistering, unshaded sun of Bear Mountain for the mosquito-ridden, green glory of Breakneck Ridge on the other side of the Hudson. The Wilkinson Trail had seen better days and we were sent in to perform major surgery by rerouting a small section away from a heavily eroded area.
We measued, we flagged - we used actual math in the real world! - we cut, we dug and by the end of the day, where there was once not a trail, a trail now ran through the woods. The highlight of the new trail will be the seasonal waterfall cascade. Now, instead of having to divert down a dusty and eroded side trail - a trail that most people don't even see - hikers will be taken right across it. Check out the Taconics crew page over the course of the summer for updates on that project.
Just me, Steve, until next week, when the rest of the Long Path/SRT crew arrives at last.
By the way, we need a better name. If you're out and about and are volunteering, drop us a suggestion. It has to be good, though. Really, really good.
Til next time,
Steve (Three Bears)
May 21st - we have gathered together at last, this loneliest of crews. Soon, the four of us - myself, Lily, Chris and Porter will set out into the great (and somewhat charred) unknown* and cut a path through the darkness, so that others may travel in our footsteps. We head to the Long Path this weekend, burdened by gear and tools and what little else we need to survive. Do you want to come along? We'd love to have you for a weekend of hard labor, far removed from the cares and noise of the world.
Rewinding a bit. The past weekend had all the crews - Bear Mountain, Taconics and Palisades - engaged in the ancient and admirable art of dry masonry. Namely: crib wall. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who enjoy crib wall, and regular, sane folk. With much love to the Jolly Rovers, the legendary NYNJTC crew that lives for moving rocks, but alas, that is not for me. Trail maintenance is both a science and an art, and I have never been great with numbers. While the Long Path will be "light" on major dry masonry projects, this is the North East glacial region and there are just rocks everywhere. We'll encounter them. Will we build a wall? Stairs? Who is to say.
Certainly, if you're looking for the most calories burned-to-work ratio, then rock work is the thing for you.
Fans of Bear Mountain, and the gorgeous stairs that were put in some five years ago, will be happy to know that the approach trail - currently a badly guided mess of social trails and confusion - is being fixed. We spent the weekend beginning the Bear Mountain team's major project: a new trail that will better guide visitors to the Bear Mountain stairs along the Appalachian Trail. Check out their page for more info!
For many of us, the project represented the first - and for the Long Path, perhaps only - time we got to use a Highline to fly rocks from one area to the other.
Exhausting work! But one that will pay dividends in the months and years - and decades - to come. Come and volunteer if you want to be a part of something everlasting.
Now, if you'll excuse me. I must go out to the woods again; to the lonely woods and the sky, and all I ask is a sharp axe, and a blaze to guide me by.
See you next week.
Steve (Three bears)
May 28th - Hey there! This is Lily checking in after my first hitch. This past weekend was actually my first time spending the night outdoors in a tent and I am definitely looking forward to doing much, much more of it as the summer progresses. I figure I should probably introduce myself as someone other than a trail newbie. I'm 20 years old from right here in Mahwah, but I go to school at Fordham in the Bronx. I'm studying environmental studies and sustainable business, so we'll see where that takes me. On a more hobby-ish level, I play lacrosse and my main hobbies are literary- and outdoor-based.
I joined this trail crew because I had always wanted to be able to get the experience of hiking and working outdoors, and there was no better time than the present. Also, there's nothing more rewarding than seeing the tangible progress that you're making throughout the day, and on a bigger scale at the end of the "work week". Overall, this experience has been awesome so far, and the people I'm spending it with are definitely a big part of that.
Hope to see you all out there!
Greetings Trail Lovers! My name is Christopher Wilson and I am a member of the NYNJ Trail Conference/ Americorps Long Path Crew. I have been working on trails in NY for a little over a year now and working with such a great crew through the conference has been quite the expierence. I am an English/Classical History graduate from Hunter College. You can usually find me hiking or wandering with my dog Sandy in the Hudson Valley or losing myself in a book. I never thought I would be working on trails but here I am. If you are thinking about volunteering or getting involved with trails, DO IT! There is no time for Hesitation! You will never find a better office, a better group of co-workers or a more rewarding goal then to build a hiking trail. If you love the outdoors or consider yourself an avid hiker come down and volunteer with us to see what it really takes to build a trail.
As the Long Path Crew, we are the first step, the trail blazers, to laying out the trail for hikers to enjoy a walk among the trees. Our first weekend together we met at Huckleberry Ridge State Park to start a new trail. As a crew member, you cannot be afraid to get down and dirty. The hours pass quickly as you seem to become one with the forest, the rustling leaves take you away. You spend the days watching a hiking trail come to life and at night you spend the hours playing games and conversing about any ole thing. One moment that is vivid in my memory was our first time watching the sun set as a crew. The sun illuminated the valley and the sky burned in a great purple blaze as the sun sunk behind the distant mountains. It is in these moments that being a crew member becomes an expierence of ecstatic proportions. I could go on forever about trails and the great outdoors but I hope you will come see it for yourself. Make a difference, expierence the outdoors the way it should be, and come volunteer with us in the most inspiring career track! This is Chris Wilson signing off.
This is Fitch. I build trails, too. It is good to build trails. It is good to dig into the ground and move rocks.
Last summer, I worked with a different corps in Utah. In the desert, I cut down invasive trees. It is good to cut down trees. But now I am in the forest and I build trails.
When you build trails, things become simple. You are working on a section of trail. When you are finished, you work on another section of trail. Then you eat, and sleep, and dream of building trails. No neon signs flash. No sirens scream invectives into the night.
That is all I have to say.
And then there's me, Steve Buja. One day, I walked out into the woods and have been returning ever since. Once, while in the woods of Pennsylvania, I encountered a dragon and answered its riddles, and since then, I have been gifted with 'glorious purpose'. While I can't say I've utilized that power to the max, I am somehow trail crew leader, so it must be working for something. They often call me Three Bears on account of that one time I defeated three bears whilst hiking the AT (in record time). With my 'bare' hands. And I still managed to make it to the shelter that day, and even set the record for fastest thru-hike.
Well, you'll just have to take my word on that.
In more truthful (or is it?) information, I am the eldest of our crew at 32 - but since I age backwards, and in fact remember the future as hazy memories, my real age is yet to be determined by any mortal means. Recently married, I had to slay the seven beasts of Kor'madun to free my bride to be and save the world from a thousand years of darkness. We make our home in Brooklyn on days when I'm not in the woods.
At least one of those facts is true.
This is our team. We're a brand new crew (still looking for a name! suggestions gladly accepted!) and if you want to find us, grab your pack and come looking. We'll be in the woods. Follow the sounds of joy and merriment, of gaudy boasts and epic adventure. We can also use the traveling companions.
We got our first stab at trail work at the Huckleberry Ridge State Park in New York. The Taconics and Palisades crew helped move our tools into place and then we spent the days sidehilling and clearing a corridor through the woods. There are fewer things more satisfying than looking back at the end of the day, and where once there was nothing, now there is a trail. On Saturday, we even had a fully qualified Sawyer come in and take down a few snagged trees and fallen timbers. An excellent break from the monotony of the rogue hoe and McLeod.
As for the nights, which we spent under the stars. Well, that is a tale for a different time.
Until next week,
June 4th- What's good in the neighborhood? I'll tell you! We had our first full 4-day hitch this past weekend and we got a lot of work done on the trail. We have a beautiful campsite chosen at the top of the ridge with a great vista. It's hard not to feel like a Rockefeller when you're surrounded by that view, a camo tarp, and a sputtering whisperlight stove.
Friday and Saturday, though a little humid, were great work days. We made a lot of progress with corridor clearing and only had to worry about a few holes left from removing rocks. A couple of volunteers joined us on Saturday, which made the work go quicker. Saturday night, the thunderstorms began and we had a great vantage point of lightning hitting the ridge opposite ours. Sunday morning the floodgates opened, and we began the day in a deluge. Since we couldn't really do much trail work, we sharpened tools in the in the morning; we did eventually get some sidehilling done in between the downpours. To take a break from the weather, we took a quick field trip into the town of Port Jervis for some real food and had some contact with human civilization. The thunderstorms continued into Monday morning but we made it through. After breaking down camp, we were left with damp equipment and even damper spirits, but morale soon turned around when our fearless leader, Josh, brought us breakfast sandwiches. In spite of the weather, Monday proved to be an incredibly fruitful day for sidehilling.
When we weren't pulling out huckleberry bushes by the roots or weilding pick mattocks, we passed the time by sharing lots of laughs and even partaking in some good ol' fashioned camp sing-a-longs. Bohemian Rhapsody was the climax of our music session with Porter on guitar. I think we're the most fun hitch crew, and not because we're the only hitch crew.
Come out and volunteer and see what the Long Path crew is all about!
Get busy hitching or get busy dying,
June 11: We have returned from the dark woods. We entered on Friday, made camp, and began work. We swung pick mattocks and sweated the sweat of the just. We made trails, and then we left the trails and walked to camp, to which no trail leads and none leave. We slept like the dead.
The next morning, a group of youths were waiting for us. They came from a place called Fox Hill. We loosed them upon the trails, and they dug like badgers. They cut a swath of trail through the land like a knife through steak. Juicy, juicy steak.
As the end neared, we began to move stones. We moved rocks the size of a grown man curled into fetal position. We heaved these stones with long steel bars, and when they moved as we commanded, we felt good. We had exerted our wills on the earth, which will one day exert its inexorable will on us. We drove the earth before us, and heard the lamentations of its rootballs. This is how we closed our week: moving rocks heavier than ourselves. Tomorrow, we will return to our Sisyphean task. And the day after. And the day after.
June 18- Rocks, Dirt and Jurassic World: this is the sum up of our fifth week out on the trail. As the weeks progress, we move together as a single unit. Pushing through whatever rain, humidity or steep grade that may be ahead of us, we do not slow down. After a hard day’s work this past weekend, we were able to stop into town and watch the new hit movie Jurassic World. Being covered in dirt definitely turned some heads as we went into the theater but the movie was great and being able to sit on a cushioned seat with a large popcorn was a nice change of scenery. The wonderful part of working with the Long Path Crew is that you get the best of both worlds: you can create a new and lasting trail with your bare hands and explore the nearby town after the sun goes down. We are moving swiftly down the mountain but we can always use more volunteers who are willing and able to help. If you are reading this, this is your signal to come out on the trail with us. Come out...or else...you will never be able to meet us! This is Chris signing off.
June 25: Hidey ho, neighbor! It's ya girl coming at ya (Lily...I'm the only girl on this crew so I assumed that was the only introduction that I needed). We have officially passed the halfway mark out on the Long Path and I for one cannot believe how quickly this project has been flying by. This last weekend was full of inclimate weather and super-climate work. Super-climate is definitely not a made up word and probably means very successful.
We started off the hitch by finishing up some rock work in a boulder field that we tore up the hitch before last and put in two more steps to give it a nice polished feel. We then went on to completeing a long sidehill section, finally moving onto the much sought after corridor clearing. Since the last two days of last hitch were solely clearing, we made some great distance and the trail is really coming together. The end is definitely in sight, which is a welcome change after a few weeks of slow and labor-intensive work.
Other than working well on the trail, the four of us have definitely hit our stride as a unit and have begun finishing each other's sentences and/or sandwiches. Seriously, those guys can eat. Speaking of eating, we probably consumed a collective ten pounds of pasta throughout our three dinners.
Here's to clear corridors and even clearer skies,
July 9th, 2015 - A fine good day to you all. Steve here reporting in, I know it's been a while since you've heard from us. There are times that try men's (and women's) resolve, and these past few weeks have been hard on the Shawangunk Redemption. (That's our tentative trail name, do you like?) First and foremost: Lyme Disease. It is not a question of if, but of 'when' and more precisely, 'who'. One of our number fell to the demon disease of Connecticut: Chris, who succumbed the week before the holidaty and who has been slowly recovering ever since. He went down hard, and despite our nearly prolific daily (twice, thrice, nay constant) searches, Chris is no longer camping out with us. Don't worry, he's still working his hardest, but the less time spent in tick country, the better.
The dominoes continued to fall. The onslaught of terrible weather - the threat of thunderstorms looms over us like the Sword of Damocles on a daily basis - brought Lily low with a slight fever and devastated morale. There were some days in which the rain simply refused to stop, and as you may know, the damp has a way of seeping right to the bone and even deeper, right into the soul. An extended rest period over the July 4th holiday has returned Lily to our team, bright and cheery as ever.
Hey, there's a reason she's our mascot.
As a side note: we have determined our spirit animals. Lily is a Beaver, feisty, a hardworker and one who enjoys the finer comforts of home - like having a roof over her head. Porter is our lithe and sonorous Bobcat, who provides musical entertainment nearly every night - and also occasionally brings a dead mouse home. Chris, the noble Chris, was hard to determine: we couldn't decide between whether he was a donkey - among the hardest working of all pack animals, or the eagle, one of the noblest (at least in standard American iconography). As a compromise, we determined he's a Pegasus, the mythical winged horse. Myself, I was sorted into Ravenclaw; or at least, a Raven for my apparently birdlike features, wise words and my ability to shed everywhere.
Back to the show...Porter is out today with some sort of stomach bug. What ailment shall before yours truly? Stay tuned to find out.
But as there has been difficulty, so too has there been great triumphs. We have officially unofficially finished the section of Long Path that we have been so tirelessly working on these past months. After a particularly troublesome rock section, the remainder of the trail opened up before us. In fact, the final two days of solid work saw us following an old forest road that took quite a dive down, but was easy as pie to clear away. So come one, come all to the Long Path at Huckleberry Ridge. We're really proud of what we've accomplished and think you might like it, too.
There's a hell of a view hanging around.
Until next time. This is the currently healthy Steve, trail crew leader reminding you to 'Get busy hitching, or get busy dying.'
July 16, 2015
The Long Path Crew is about to head out on its last hitch. After one more week in the dark woods, we will return to the places we came from. I will be back in the city, and tramping through the underbrush will seem like a feverish dream.
The past week was one of our best. No rain. No disease festering in our skins. It was warm, and the slope of the ground agreed with us. We pulled weeds to clear a trail, but we didn't have to dig, and our backs could rest. We slept well.
Near our campsite, we found an enormous anthill. It was big enough to fill a bathtub. A hideous, ant-filled bathtub. The little blind creatures carried out their unfathomable tasks, oblivious to us. We watched. It was perplexing. Such a world of different lives, separated by the thinnest veil from our own.
On the last day of work, we found another nexus of alien life. As Chris walked the outlined trail, a hornet shot towards him like a pissed-off yellow bulldog. Its ilk had built a little piece of hell where we wanted to build a trail. We don't have stingers, and hornets do. Consequently, we moved our trail and the nest stayed put. This is another reminder: The woods are not our place. We are visitors in an old, hostile place. Beautiful but hostile.
I will be sad to leave the woods that have been our surrogate home. The city to which I return is smoggy and crowded, and people drift like ghosts. The woods will pull on me. I will surely be coming back to Huckleberry Ridge, to walk the trails I helped to build. They're pretty nice trails. You should walk them.
That is all I have to say.
YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, I honestly cannot believe that my crew and I are on the cusp of our final hitch together. These past two months have been more wet and wild than a spring break trip to Cancun. Last weekend was the first dry weekend for us and I cannot emphasize how much more enjoyable it was to not have to huddle under a tarp.
The work this past weekend was comprised of some corridor clearing along the SRT. I'm not sure if the amount of podcasts listened to outnumbered the amoung of blueberry plants pulled or not. My personal triumph of the hitch was seeing a black bear while excusing myself for a commune with Mother Nature. I think I'll be seeing Scamp (the name of the bear/my newly appointed spirit animal) again when I am in great peril.
These past two months have helped me grow so much as a person and I now understand the true implications of a farmer's tan. Aside from that, I would like to think that I have become pretty tough as a result of embarking on my first camping venture. The people I have met along the way, mainly the three very strange people that have been my trail family, will forever be regarded as lifelong friends. I certainly hope our trails (WHAT A GREAT PUN, LILY) will cross again in the future.
It's been a true pleasure sharing this experience with you readers out there (talking about you, mom). Though I can count the amount of volunteers that joined us on one hand, and though I have very small, toddler-like hands, I know whoever was reading this kept us in their thoughts when the going got tough.
Signing off for the last time,
Lily "Where the other girls at" Hurley
July 16th, 2015
Steve here, and am seriously reconsidering why I even let the others write a blog post. But, what they say is true: we approach our final hitch.
Here at last, on the shores of the SRT, comes the end of our fellowship.
What more can I add? There were bee-stings (right on my lip!), sunny days and lots of trail cleared last weekend. Oh, and as you can see, we also finally got a group photo up. Just in time for us to be finished! That's our motto, "We may take a while, but we will get s*** done. Eventually." We hope for another stretch of clear skies and perfect days, as we would like to make this final week along the LP/SRT a good one. Thanks to all who read this for joining in on this little adventure of ours.
Live long and prosper, and all that good stuff.
PS - and here's some 'Pratting' for you: