Reflections From the End of the Season

January 04, 2019
Joshua DelRio
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


Reflections From the End of the Season
2018 Taconic Trail Crew works on Breakneck Ridge's Undercliff Trail. Photo by Joshua DelRio.


The Taconic Crew built steps along the Undercliff Trail to provide a safe route for Breakneck hikers.

The Taconic Trail Crew— comprised of Conservation Corps members Matthew Shannon, Matthew MacDermant, Devin O’Donnell, leader Josh Delrio and a rotating cast of volunteers— served on trails around Breakneck Ridge to create safer, more sustainable routes for hikers.

Better Trails for Breakneck

Leaves litter
Acorns shower
Squirrels gather
Birds depart

It is October in the hills of New York. It is for us Corps members the end of the line. As the nights grow cold and long, we must be on our way.

Some will be on to Texas. Others will be headed to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Colorado. For many, this is the first step on a trailbuilding career path. For others, it is the one and only stop. Some of us will meet again, work together again, dwell together, eat together, laugh together. Others will be departing for good, with this moment as our only shared waypoint on the long path of life. There is joy and there is sadness. All things, for better or worse, must come to an end. All is finite.

As my fellow Taconic Trail Crew members and I closed out our last week together, we finished up several key projects. A reroute around a swampy abyss down by Breakneck Brook will keep hikers out of the everpresent mud flats. Another critical piece of trail will stand in for an ice hazard zone under the Undercliff Trail cliff on the way to Breakneck. Instead of treading over exposed roots soaked by streams of cliff runoff, travelers now have a new set of stairs to traverse. The once disconnected staircase projects slowly came together over the summer and fall, and there is now a continuous path from brook to Breakneck.

As we wrap up we reflect on this progress. We reflect on the journey. It was sometimes hard and aggravating. It was often hot and wet. Through all this, friendships were forged, and real work was done. There is nothing abstract about our towering staircases. We set out to get people up this mountain and now we have completed our work. I look forward to all the changes still to come; 2019 will bring another full docket of work for next year’s crew, and I look forward to harvesting its fruits.

The Trail Conference's Conservation Corps trains the next generation of environmental stewards to preserve the integrity of trails and natural areas and engage volunteers to inspire a deeper appreciation for the care that open space requires. To apply for the 2019 season, visit