Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cabin Life: The Rewards of Trail Work

Memorial Day weekend is over.  It was beautiful weather, the campground was full, and I’m exhausted.  After working three fourteen hour days in a row, I’m glad the campers are gone, even though we didn’t really have any problems with the crowd.  Lots of guys talking about fishing, wondering where to get ice and firewood, and wondering how long they can extend their weekend.

I like working in the campgrounds, even though dealing with the public is often unnecessarily stressful.  Drive slow, be quiet and keep your dog on a leash.  It’s not that much to ask, but many people find it difficult to follow those simple rules.  But what I love about my job is the chance to be on the trail crew.  They pay me to hike, and I have to pinch myself every time.

After Hurricane Irene, I was in the High Peaks doing cleanup.  Hauling a forty pound backpack while carrying a chainsaw and wearing steel toed boots, Kevlar chaps and a hardhat apparently is my notion of an ideal work environment.  From Lake Colden to Johns Brook Lodge, those were two weeks I won’t ever forget because the work was exhausting and endlessly rewarding at the same time.

This spring, I was helping out on trail crew, and got to go into Tahawus near Newcomb, NY.  My hero, Teddy Roosevelt, was staying here when William McKinley was shot, and the house where he was lodging is still standing.  Looking at the remnants of a ghost town, and realizing what hard work it must have been to carve out a living is a lesson in humility.  Sure, I walked some of the same routes, but I drove there in a four wheel drive truck while listening to radio.  Plus, we have chainsaws.  That makes it a lot easier.

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Having grown up in the southern Adirondacks, Justin has always been at home in the mountains of New York. After graduating from Paul Smiths College, he began his career in the environmental field working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. After a brief five year detour to Florida, Justin returned to the Adirondacks to live off the grid in a small cabin with no running water or electricity.

Justin continues to work and play in the outdoors, and maintains a blog about living off grid, hiking, and being outside in the Adirondacks called Middle of the Trail.

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