A few benefits of getting in the woods and volunteering for trail clean up
June 3rd was All Trails Day with lots of volunteering for trail clean up among many other trail events all over the country. I choose to head to Mount Cardigan for a morning of trail work with the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC). This was my first time doing trail work and it definitely won't be the last.
While out on the trail I was reminded of the benefits of being in the woods and volunteering. I love hiking and get out into the woods almost daily, but doing trail work was different. We were looking at the trail itself and its anatomy - was it draining well? were the water bars clear? were there any low hanging branches? was there a rock or branch sticking up that could cause someone to trip, and if so was that rock or branch stabilizing trail erosion? This attention to the trail and its workings were different than my usual walks; it made me a bit more mindful and fully focused on the present instead of looking out and letting my mind wander.
Not only was it great to be so focused in the woods, but spending the morning cleaning up the trail was satisfying knowing the benefits it would provide to other hikers and to the longevity of the trail. Getting out on the trail with a group of others I had never met before provided great connections, conversations and teamwork. And breaking out of my usual routine and bubble to join with others for a common goal was energizing and fun. It had been a while since I've volunteered my time, but I am so glad I took the morning to give back to the trails and those who will be using them.
All Trails Day was a great motivator to finally get me out volunteering on the trail, but there are always opportunities. If you're interested here are a few resources to find more local volunteer opportunities - Upper Valley Land Trust (UVLT), Upper Valley Trails Alliance (UVTA), AMC.