The last hitch started off with a bang--well, more of a collective *thump* as gear and papers were set on the table to finish up the team's Final Report and thoroughly clean up all the equipment from the season out in the field. Thankfully, this last push was made easier in part due to taking the time at the end of previous hitches (and spare time when stuck indoors as a result of bad weather) to start this process in advance with basic cleaning and brainstorming of how to put together the Final Report.
The next day the team was off to the Manchester Ranger Station to meet with our Forest Service contacts for a casual lunch (with some awesome pizza form Al Ducci's Pizzeria) to share experiences and stories from the season, as well as present the Final Report to our contacts and the District Ranger, who then ceremoniously signed off on our TrACS paperwork!
The last two days of work for the season were a great send-off, as the team, having completed more trails than the Forest had originally hoped to collect TrACS data on (with time to spare), got to help out at the archaeological dig once more with Dave Lacey, as well as join the Forest's fisheries staff out in the field for a day of electro-shocking fish to collect important population data.
With the season coming to a close, feelings were bittersweet, as Kayla and Lucas were looking forward to returning to college and Dan continuing his adventures with SCA on a leader team, but in doing so had to part ways with one another and the SCA Wilderness crew that still had another week of work left. In the end, the team takes comfort in knowing that the Green Mountain National Forest will still be here in Vermont, and will always be ready to greet them with open arms whenever they choose to return for a friendly visit.
Trails TrACS'd: 509618 ft (96.52 miles)
Additional Trails Hiked: 220881 ft (41.8 miles)
Hitch 6 started with us working alongside Danna, a trustworthy and battle proven Forest Service employee. Together we traveled south to perform a Trail Assessment and Condition Survey on the Stamford Pond Trail. This snowmobile trail offered little challenge to the all-star crew. In fact, it had no features, not even a sign.
That night the brave, heroic, all-knowing, loyal, SCA employee, Trevor, appeared to us in the Mount Tabor Work Center Parking lot out of a tiny, white, rental car. He was to join us for the next couple days. Little did he know what was going to happen next.
The next day was Tuesday, the best day for TrACS. So we dove head first into a section of the Catamount Cross-Country Ski Trail. It captured and pulled us into the woods while Dan drove the truck ahead to the day's stopping point. During the day Trevor asked us many questions about TrACS. Obviously our abundance of knowledge stunned him. This trail also lacked features, except for bridges.
After camping at Hapgood Pond, the third day started with a safety meeting headed by Ranger Bill. The personal stories made the meeting interesting. After the meeting was when Trevor was to depart from us. In his time with us, he shared his past experiences with us, which was appreciated. Meeting another SCA employee is always a good experience, and he even shared his knowledge of future opportunities with us.
That afternoon we met up with Mel, who was a seasonal Botanist for the Forest Service. Mel changed the game from TrACS to invasive plants. She taught us the forms and showed us various invasive plants in the area. All of us loved Mel, and it is too bad we will not get to work with her again.
On Thursday the Catamount section was finished. It took us through a few timber sales, and even disappeared for a while, but in the end it was conquered. This was our last bit of field work.
In one more week the season will be over. Things are wrapping up swiftly, and a lot of skills have been learned that can be taken home. Next week will probably flash by quicker than we would wish it, so we will have to enjoy the next week with Larry and the SCA Wilderness Crew, both of whom we live alongside, as much as possible.
Hitch 6 Totals
Trails TrACS'd: 74191 ft
Additional Trails Hiked: 0 ft
We were back on Corridor 7 for Hitch 5 around 10am, after a fairly long drive since we were nearing the southern-most reaches of the Green Mountain National Forest. With about ten miles left on the long trail of the season, we hiked back to where we left off. The signs were still pointing in the wrong directions for Corridor 7, so with that noted, we wheeled following the route mapped by the Forest Service, continuing along the forest road.
We resumed the full TrACS survey when the route took us back on the trail that was not along the road and just as we did a light rain began. It looked promising, like the rain would let up, but as we thought the sun was going to come out, the storm burst and we got poured on for about an hour. We continued TrACS, not sure what to expect. We were unable to use the marker for photos in the rain, so we tried our hands at a bit of sign language, not to any avail. Our Rite in the Rain paper was soaked but still barely usable, luckily we always use pencil, because pen would have smudged and that would have been the death of our survey thus far, at least the part we still carried.
Alas, the sun did return and eventually we dried out to near completion; our boots were left soaked until the end of the following day when we could dry them out at Mt. Tabor. The rest of day one included TrACS until 6:30 so we would not have to backtrack the following day and hiking out to camp for about a half mile. The night was uneventful and we all went to bed soon, looking forward to sleeping in the next day.
Heading back onto the trail around 10, we started our TrACS survey at a “Trail Closed” barricade that was up because a bridge had been washed away by the abusive Hurricane Irene last fall. The Rake Branch was a bit bigger than we expected but easily passable with a makeshift puncheon that had been put there already. This last day of TrACS on Corridor 7 consisted of many areas of high vegetation growth above our heads, including tall ferns, weeds, briars, and even raspberries, ouch! There was a steep climb to the crossing at Route 9, where we looked forward to the last couple of miles on the trail. After Dan joined us, we eventually finished the trail for a total of 343,214 feet or 65.003 miles, it was an exciting feat.
After a hike out along Corridor 9 to the truck, we drove into Bennington to do grocery shopping for the rest of the hitch, and then finished the day off in the conference room of Mt. Tabor with paperwork.
Days 3 & 4
These two days were very rainy and kept us out of the woods and in the office. We have been cleaning up TrACS forms, organizing paperwork, and starting out Final Report. Both days have been shortened because of the time spent in the field on Day 1 and last Saturday when Lucas and Kayla participated in a loon survey and an archaeological dig. The loon survey was at Moses Pond and we headed there with Larry Wise, of the Forest Service. We did not see any loons or other wildlife at the pond. The archaeological dig took place at Little Rock Pond, along the Appalachian Trail with Dave Lacey of the Forest Service and a crew with him. The SCA Wilderness team was also there and it was delightful to join in some work with them.
Hitch 5 Totals
Trails TrACS'd: 56343 ft
Additional Trails Hiked: 17223 ft
As we set out for the fourth hitch, many miles have already been covered in this season of seasons. As we look ahead we wish to enrich our experience, and enlarge our numbers.
The first two days of hitch four were spent primarily in the office. On the eve of the second day we set out for Bald Mountain, where the TrACS was to commence. This day was just to set up the spike camp, though, so we packed up our bags, and backpacked to the top of Bald Mountain. This was the a strenuous trek up a steep grade, but all three of us made it to the top, where one can see for miles. The camp was set up swiftly, and each member got warm and cozy inside their tent.
The next day Danna from the Forest Service joined us on the trail. This day we completed TrACS on the Bald Mountain trail. This trail snaked up the mountain with rocky footings, but breath-taking views. Danna told us about her experiences with the Forest Service, and how she got where she is today. These stories help when you are trying to plan out your own path.
The following day we decided to work on Bear Wallow Trail. This is the trail we used to hike our packs up. The trail felt like it went forever, but we were the lucky ones as Dan spent the day hiking water up the mountain for the three of us. When the top of the mountain was reached for the third time during this hitch, the exhaustion was evident on all of the team.
On Friday, the fifth day of the hitch, the team split. Lucas went to help with a Peregrine Falcon Survey, while Dan and Kayla continued TrACS onto the ridge trail. Kayla and Dan finished the trail, which was around 8 miles long, then hiked back to the spike camp for a total of 16 miles. Lucas went to the White Rocks Recreation Area, where he and some other Forest Service employees sat up on the rocks looking for the birds. The group only saw Turkey Vultures during this survey.
On Saturday, the camp was packed away, and the team departed from Bald Mountain earlier than expected. The rest of the day, after traveling back from the mountain, we worked on paperwork.
Sunday had us go back to TrACS, but only on a short bit of trail. Dan had to find the trail for us, but the trail itself was easy enough to work on. After the trail, and the beautiful view from the top, we continued paperwork and post work clean-up for the rest of the hitch.
As time moves on this summer, words of wisdom from Peter Bauer come to mind. If you are doing something, you might as well do it right. It is important to keep doing first-rate work as the end of the season starts to peak its head around the corner.
Hitch 4 Totals
Trails TrACS'd: 75068 ft
Additional Trails Hiked: 104491 ft
Since Hitch 2’s section of the 60-mile snowmobile trail Corridor 7 ended in a thunderstorm, Captain Price and Skipper Kayla trudged back onto the lengthy trail for Hitch 3 with about half the trail remaining. To get to their most recent spot on the trail, the heroes had to hike through heat and weeds under the path of power lines. There seemed to be the threat of a thundershower again, but it quickly passed with only a few drops as Price and Kimball ate lunch.
After lunch, the TrACS continued back under the power lines. It was interesting to hike along a wide open path, and while there was a decent view at times, it could be arduous for the heroes to see the fierce obstacles so far ahead. When Price and Kimball finished off the last of the power lines, they headed into the woods for a journey along a creek and through woods deep in the heart of the Green Mountains. Soon after meeting up with henchman Perez, they came to a glorious golden bridge. It was here they set up a base camp along a roaring stream that they spent two nights at.
On the second day, Corridor 7 took our heroes over giant culverts, upwards of 5 feet that spouted pounds of water into deep pools. The streams which passed through these culverts often left open spots in the woods with view of the towering Stratton Mountain.
July 4, Independence Day, the day that gives reason to our heroes’ work, they spent the day alongside Stratton seeking out culverts and swooping over drain dips. An owl made an unexpected appearance as it flew across the trail in front of the heroes. It was one of those picturesque moments that one can reminisce on. Up the trail a bit, a young deer was grazing in the meadow-like trail. The end of the day concluded on a lengthy part of the trail that was on a nicely kept up road. This seemed like it would be easier, but after the length day spent on the trail, the hardened road surface was harsh on the heroes’ feet.
The last day of Hitch 3, consisted of finishing off the road and heading back onto more rustic road for TrACS. Ultimately the day was cut off when signs appeared to be mislabeling the route, and the heroes were forced off the trail to seek guidance. Corridor 7 will have to wait for another hitch.
In commemoration for the recent holiday, the heroes and henchman showered and headed into town for a celebratory meal. With their bellies full and the cheeks merry, they finished off the work week and geared up for their weekend.
Hitch 3 Totals
Trails TrACS'd: 143324
Additional Trails Hiked: 37822
As the second hitch comes around, we find our heroes preparing for a week in the field. Captain Price and Skipper Kimball, assisted by the henchman Perez, have many tasks to complete on this first day. They buzz around preparing the gear and making the shopping list, while Perez makes the maps. The day ends with an epic and successful shopping trip.
On the second day of Hitch two, the heroes and henchman find themselves bravely pursuing TrACS on Corridor 7, the infamous snowmobile trail. People shake in their boots at the very name. This day and the next blend into a blur of endless walking through trees, clearings, and chest-high grass, with no end in sight, yet they manage to survey and survive these tortures. Even the bridges ended up in their paperwork.
The fourth day of the hitch will always remain like a scar in the heroes’ memory. This day they set off without their henchman, and pushed through an arduous task. On this one day, they completed over 11 miles of the trail. Some may ask how such a heroic and thorny deed was done, but we laugh at those who doubt. Plus the Forest Service only needed distance for this section of the trail. None the less, the heroes’ names will be remembered for such a deed (possibly?).
The fifth day was a lot easier than the second, third and fourth. The heroes only had two miles of TrACS to complete. Then the rest of the day was spent in the office, revamping plans for the rest of hitch two.
On the sixth day, tragedy hit. Everybody saw it coming, but unavoidable it was. Like a storm brewing on the horizon, almost. More like a storm brewing on the other side of the mountain ridge. After hiking up treacherous terrain, the heroes heard the noise in the distance. Like the rumbling of GODS! So they pulled together the courage of heroes, and hid in the woods. As the storm got closer, the sky got angrier, and the thunder started to shake the marrow of their very bones. Then the flashes of lightning came, changing the essence of the sky from anger to rage. As the weather continued, and would not let up, the brave heroes did the most heroic thing they could, and fled the mountain like a rabbit flees from dogs. Luckily the thoughtful henchman was waiting at the bottom with hot chocolate and donuts.
The seventh day was more peaceful then the six. Instead of going back to Corridor 7, the heroes decided to do the TrACS on Cemetery Run, which is a nicer trail than the name implies and our heroes did not come upon a cemetery. This day the henchman Perez was with the heroes, helping out like only he can. This short trail went quickly, and then the heroes courageously washed the work truck, and packed away gear from the past week. This concludes the Heroic deeds done during Hitch 2, but please don’t skip out on the vital information below…
The eighth day of Hitch two was spent learning about the invasive plants found in Vermont. We were taught by the Green Mountain National Forest’s Botanist. She was very knowledgeable, and along with telling us how to spot these intruders, we were also taught what to do if we do spot them.
P.S. In all seriousness the sixth day of Hitch 2 made me think back to a program I did last summer called Adventure WV. It is an optional program that West Virginia University puts on for incoming freshman that can be taken instead of an introduction to college class. During Adventure WV, we had an hour of reflection to think about our goals for our freshman year of college. This took place on a ledge overlooking Canaan Valley, WV. I spent my time under a pine tree. As I was sitting under the pine tree during the thunderstorm this hitch, I thought about how much I had done during the last year. I found the perfect major for me, figured out what kind of job I wanted to do, and even ended up traveling all over the country to do conservation and trail projects through the SCA. This makes it impossible for me to imagine how much more I will accomplish in the next year’s time, and where I might find myself at the end of it.
Hitch 2 Totals
Trails TrACS'd: 130946 ft
Additional Trails Hiked: 35233 ft
Our first hitch was four days and began with office work for a lot of prep for our first TrACS surveys.
Monday started off with a trip to the GMNF Headquarters in Rutland, VT. We met with Carol Burd and heard about GMNF specific TrACS. After grabbing some coffee, we headed to the Manchester District Ranger Station, which will be our field office for the season. Here we met a few of the Forest Service employees that have been a big help in starting off this season. With our Trail Management Objectives in hand, we set out planning our next few days with mapmaking, creating ERPs and making a lot of copies of TrACS forms on Rite in the Rain paper.
Tuesday, we were back in Manchester at first but finally got into the field. We headed to the Stratton Mountain area to the snowmobile trail called Top of the Mountain. We started and finished our first TrACS survey and celebrated with a short hike back to the truck on the AT/LT in the rain! Lucas and I had a great feeling of accomplishment as the day winded down.
We were lucky enough to start Wednesday off with a meeting at the Ranger Station, which was held so that the new District Head Ranger could officially meet everyone and hear their updates and concerns. For us, it was a great opportunity to meet everyone, as well, and hear what they do and about the projects they are currently working on. After more office work, we got a late start on a new trail, Cemetery Run, which we will finish later in the season.
Our final day of the hitch, Thursday, we reviewed trail specs about snowmobile trails and headed out to start our major project of the summer, the 50 plus miles of snowmobile trail Corridor 7. We completed 3 miles of the trail after starting around 11am.
Hitch 1 Totals
Trails TrACS'd: 29746
Additional Trails Hiked: 26112
Training is a vital part of the SCA process. It is what teaches us the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, night and day. This year training took place at a Girl Scout Camp in Carnation, Washington. The first week was a lot of classroom-style learning. The SCA policies were implanted into our brains; these are the rules that define our lives. Another part of this week was the CPR and Wilderness First Aid training. Over these days I saved many from fake injuries.
The second week the Trail Corps teams split from the Army Corp of Engineers teams. On Sunday, we started the day with setting up base camp. We learned how to filter water, tie knots, and use camp stoves. In the afternoon, we were introduced to tools used in trail work and we tried out the ax, jacks, and cross-cut saw.
The next four days we got into the major skill categories which were water drainage, timber, trail design and trail construction. Trail drainage was on my first day, so we went over basic trail terms and looked at drainage on a trail in the morning. In the afternoon, we brushed a trail and worked on the drainage of the trail. Next was timber, and we set right to work building benches. In this station we sawed off pieces of a cedar tree using a crosscut; notched part of the tree trunk; hand-drilled holes; attached the bench together using wooden dowels; and smoothed out the bench surface with chisels. In the trail design and trail construction stations we built a new trail for the camp. Construction was the most strenuous station, and I was at this station the last day. We worked two extra hours to finish, but what was accomplished in these four days was rewarding and worth the effort.
These ten days will always remain in my memories. The SCA training was often difficult and tiring, even tedious at times, but the feeling of accomplishment when you complete a project with your own hands is one that is hard to match. The SCA always draws intelligent, interesting individuals in. Nowhere else have I met people that after only a few days I can share so much of myself. The people you meet seem like they have been in your life for months or even years, and after this short of a time they are people you can talk to about almost anything. Going on from here, I am excited about exploring the Green Mountains in Vermont, the team I get to work with for the summer, and the awesome people that I am sure to cross paths with this summer in New England.
P.S. As I am looking over this post, the end of TrACS training has arrived. During this last week NH and VT TrACS (A.K.A. Super TrACS) trained with the U.S. Forest Service in the White Mountain National Forest, which lies in New Hampshire. This training involved two days of working with the Forest Service, one day of Super TrACS tracking a trail, and a travel day on each end. The end of this training marks the end of Super TrACS for the time being. May the NH TrACS, a.k.a. Moose TrACS, wheel run true until we reunite. Llama TrACS, as the VT team proudly calls itself, will valiantly push on in their absence.
Lucas Price 
As a young boy growing up in the hills of West Virginia, insects caught my fascination. This was the start of my obsession with the outdoors and wildlife. My first steps toward the world of the outdoors was mountain biking. This held my attention for a couple of years, until I picked up downhill skiing. While I still enjoyed mountain biking for another couple years, skiing started to gain the favor of my heart. Skiing is still my favorite thing to do during the winter months. In the last few years, I have gotten into hiking, which has allowed me to be around wildlife.
Another outdoor activity I have recently started to enjoy is fishing. As I have been traveling around New Hampshire and Vermont I cannot help but look at the rivers and lakes, evaluating where good places to fish might be. For me it is about getting to see the fish up close.
My obsession with the outdoors will eventually consume me.
I am currently a student at West Virginia University. The school is closely tied to my family. My uncle, mother and brother all attended the university, while my mother and father currently work there. I am studying Wildlife and Fisheries resources. This major has deepened my feeling of belonging at WVU. On top of all this, I love playing lacrosse. I never miss a chance to play since the sport lets me take out my frustration. I also have the opportunity to meet people I would have never crossed paths with. This is the story of my life.
Kayla Kimball 
Hey there, I’m Kayla Kimball and I am doing my first stint with the SCA here in the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont. I grew up just northeast of here in Central Maine. In the coming year, I will be finishing up my BS in Geoscience from the University of Southern Maine. My interests span a wide range of activities, so it took me a while to choose a major. I started with Film, Video, and Animation, and then Hospitality Management at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. I like to spend my time playing sports, writing, traveling, cooking, baking, and painting. I especially like swimming in the ocean and hanging out in Acadia National Park on Isle au Haut, my favorite spot.
For the spring 2011 semester, I studied abroad at the National University of Ireland in Galway on the west coast of the country. I had the opportunity to travel around the country and also go to Northern Ireland and England. Being able to experience another country’s culture and explore their outdoor opportunities was remarkable. Ireland fits the trend I seem to have going in visiting rainy places, such as Costa Rica in high school, and SCA training in Washington was no exception.
This summer, I am excited to be working outdoors and enjoying the wildlife through hiking and camping, and hopefully other outdoor activities such as canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. My career goal includes working to protect the land while sharing it with the public. Eventually I plan on running a bed and breakfast, probably on the coast of Maine.
The Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF) encompasses more than 400,000 acres in southwestern and central Vermont, forming the largest contiguous public land area in the State. Characterized by striking scenery that combines rugged mountain peaks with quintessential Vermont villages, the Forest is an attraction for many visitors. The GMNF signifies a multiple-use ethic through its role of providing ecological and science-based forestry stewardship, clean water, diverse vegetation, high-value, high-quality forest products, economical and educational contributions, and trail-based backcountry recreation.
Located within a day's drive of more than 70 million people, the GMNF is a destination for visitors seeking a variety of recreation opportunities. The Forest includes three nationally designated trails: The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Long National Recreation Trail, and the Robert Frost National Recreation Trail. The Forest also includes three alpine ski areas, seven Nordic ski areas, and approximately 900 miles of multiple-use trails for hiking, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, horseback riding, and bicycling. In addition to recreation opportunities, the Forest includes a variety of species of plants and animals. Northern hardwoods, softwoods, rare and unique plants, fish, birds, and numerous animals of all sizes are part of the attraction for visitors.
[Excerpted from the GMNF website ]
Hailing from the land of clam chowdah and other dropped R's, I've had the pleasure of traveling far and wide across the US through my adventures in trail building and rock collecting. After discovering early on that geoscience lab periods typically took place outside, I spent the rest of my undergraduate career learning about continental bumper car dynamics and how to distinguish clay from silt by tasting mud in the name of science. In addition to earning a degree in geosciences from Williams College, I've served with SCA for three seasons as a corpsmember in the Mass Parks and Idaho AmeriCorps residential programs and as a high school crew leader in Acadia National Park and Golden Gate National Recreation Area. I am immensely excited to hit the trails in Vermont this summer with my survey team, and looking forward to sharing yet another awesome SCA experience with fellow outdoor enthusiasts!