The last week or so has been nothing short of exciting here in Kansas. The weather has been amazing (unseasonable highs of low 80s!), our team has been productive, and we are working slowly but surely on wrapping up this summer. In the past hitch, we have done some spectacular conservation work. The first conservation day we spent at Perry Lake finishing up a trail at the disc golf course. We ﬂattened out our trail so the tread was great, finishing up our hard work two weeks prior, finished putting in stairs using dimensional lumber, and then got to work on something new: a rock staircase. With the help of another SCA member, Will, and a ranger with the Army Corps of Engineers, Kyle, we gathered rocks, dug spaces for them, and packed them in tightly so that when going down the very end of our trail, people would not have to worry about how steep it was!
Speaking of steep, that wasn’t all we did that day. After finishing up our first trail, we got to work on another one which was even steeper. This trail required a bit of clearing at the top, but most of all, it needed about eight stairs because the gradient was extreme! Once again, using our teamwork to our advantage, we built stairs with dimensional lumber and rebar. It was a fun and exciting day, and the best part was seeing our trail finished before our eyes, though I’m sure spotting a pair of black widows was something that won’t be soon forgotten. The gratitude of Ranger Kyle was felt as well because these trails will be used for years to come, increasing safety at Perry Lake.
Our second conservation project involved another return, this time to Clinton Lake. We began blazing a trail a week or two before, in the rain. This trail was intensely wooded. We worked a full day and still had a lot to do. So Monday the 12th, we went back to get as much done as possible. This time, we worked in a line, using a hand scythe, loppers, a hand saw, and some teamwork to clear as much trail as we could in our eight hours there. We worked fast and hard, in the rain in the morning and the humidity in the afternoon. We were even joined by Army Corps Ranger Drew for a couple of hours. He was a pro at lopping and was a big help to the team! Thanks Drew!! We left for the day with a lot more trail cleared than before, though not completely finished. Unfortunately some trails are longer than others, but it is good to know the Army Corps plans on continuing our work to make this trail a reality. They came through the trail we built a few days later with a trail mower, and all that is left now is taking a Mcleod to the entrance path, and blazing the entire trail!
While it might sound like life in Kansas is all work and no play, it is far from it! Besides getting to experiment with fun meals for the group like Gado Gado from the SCA handbook, moussaka, chili, and more, we have a lot of fun on our off time as well. One day during this hitch, I had to speak to someone in Topeka regarding a conservation project at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center (which is going to be incredibly fun, look for more about that in our next blog!). Alison was kind enough to accompany me and we figured, while in Topeka, why not have some fun? So we stopped by the Topeka Zoo and spent a few hours there! We walked around the entire place, seeing the mountain lions, bears, giraffes, primates, and elephants. We saw every animal that wasn’t too hot to be sleeping somewhere cooler! Kansas has been an awesome place to spend a summer, and even though our time here is wrapping up, we still have more fun adventures ahead of us. Don’t forget to check back for our next blog as our very own hitch leader, Mr. Dan Maus informs us of more fun adventures in Kansas.