For the past several weekends, I have had the privilege of helping out with the Bracken Mtn Project. This project has been fun for several reasons. The ease of actually working is great.
I am excited to leave something that others can enjoy. Something new. It will help the economy, community, and most importantly, provide a place for people to get outside and stay healthy.
While it is rewarding work, it is very difficult and tiring. Mondays are pretty much shot and it usually messes up any thoughts of riding a bike. We load our chainsaws and gear into our backpacks and hike, sometimes close to 1 hr to get where we left off from last time. Then we put on all of our safety gear, and spread out along the proposed corridor, following little orange flags.
Bushwacking with chainsaw, and full gear is difficult. Once we are spread out, we "make some noise" and start cutting a swath through the forest, making every attempt to cut the branches small enough for the swampers to scatter neatly into the woods. The swampers are the ones who come behind us and clear the cuttings from the trail. They have a hard job as well, sometimes the mountain laurel thickets are so dense that it is very difficult to spread the cuttings.
After wielding the chainsaw for hours, pausing occasionally to eat, drink and soak in the surroundings, we load up and head out. Muscles sore and tired, the downhill hike is tough, but knowing focusing on what was accomplished feels great. Free food in town makes us feel even better!