Back in June I mentioned that I wanted to give back some labor after seeing a chain gang out there working on that hot and humid Saturday. Well today was that day (minus the hot humid weather!)
After I completed my NJAT hike in September I contacted the NYNJTC about volunteering for some work, and - once you offer free labor, you start getting emails. The West Jersey Crew got in touch, and I headed down route 80 towards the Gap- not with synthetic pants on and some gorp - but with old dungarees and leather gloves.
We rendezvoused at the Dunnfield Creek trail head shortly before 9am today (10/19/13). I was promptly issued a pickaxe and shovel. This hard working bunch is lead by Monica and David Day who run a well oiled machine that cares for the trails in my favorite part of the state - the AT along the Kittatinny Ridge. We headed up the Dunnfield Creek Trail and then onto the Blue Dot. They had identified some water bars that had been vandalized and were in general disrepair. Getting them working again was our order of business today!
Whats a waterbar you ask? Yes they fooled me too with their talk
of "bars". It's those rows of rock we come across out there that
are designed to divert rainwater off the trail.
I have to admit, I assumed I'd go out there, move a rock or two, maybe carry a bucketload of dirt somewhere and call it a day. I mean we're free labor right? Well I was wrong. I haven't worked this hard in a long time. Moving big (75lb+) rocks, swinging a pickaxe and shoveling for hours. I would say I had 10 years on the next youngest member of the gang, and they all worked circles around me. The gym has nothing on a day out with this bunch. Hiking up to Tammany is far easier than moving rocks and dirt all day, and a lot more fun. But we'd never get there if these guys weren't out there doing what they do.
I hope a lot of you were out hiking today - the leaves were at or post peak and the air had that great autumn crispness. Literally hundreds of folks passed us today as we worked - it was like the Parkway on a Friday night in August. I understand that most of these "hikers" come out once a year during foliage season to an easy spot right along Rt 80 with their kids and amble through the woods for a bit. But for those of us that hang out here and spend money at REI and Campmor, us HIKERS that get a lot from this hobby, we should go and help the West Jersey Crew and folks working the trails where you like to hike, once or twice a year and make this an even greater state to hike!
They had me way too busy today moving rocks to fiddle with my iPhone and shoot, but here's my video homage to the trail crews. I'll see you out there again soon!