For the last two weeks, my crew and I have worked with the Bonners Ferry Ranger District in the Idaho Panhandle doing various types of work. We've created new tread for a place called Kootenai Point, an eleven-mile mountain biking trail that is in the works for next year, and cleared trails of brush in surrounding areas. In between digging tread and brushwork, we were able to see a lot of cool, hidden spots, such as Bottleneck Lake and a historical cabin at the top of the Ruby Ridge Trail.
As someone who has always had a fear of existentialism and knowing I have such little time to do meaningful things, trail work for the past two weeks has been my haven. When I fear I am wasting my life worrying about how I will spend it, my McLeod and PPE have been my sword and armor. And I have endured every battle (a trail with drainage issues) with an army made up of four noble knights (field crew workers) that proudly call themself “Field Crew 5”.
Before this season, I had no experience with the outdoors. I had never camped nor did I know how to put up a tent. Everything has been a new experience for me and often I have struggled at wielding a Pick and feeling like the work I put in was good work at all. The feeling chronically follows me everywhere, but I have been trying to remember that life isn’t perfect, and neither is corps work for that matter. Trail work is messy and doesn’t ask for perfection, but begs for passion and a longing to make trails and project work last for years to come. The road that leads to a project is often rocky and chaotic. Sometimes tools malfunction, perhaps there is group tension at the end of a long day, or some days you just forget your 3:00 pm break snack. Amidst all the troubles that come about from time to time, I have found trail work to be a passion of mine and the most rewarding work I have ever done.
I look forward to growing through the season and fighting more battles with a team that has the same goal as me: to leave no trace but provide clear evidence that someone at some point cared enough to make a change.