It didn’t take long after meeting Andrew Norkin, AMC’s director of trails and recreation management, to recognize that he’s an upstanding, above-board kind of guy.
So when he talked recently about all the “dirty work” ahead for his team this summer, it was plain to see he was referring to the challenges in store for AMC’s professional trail crew. These are the men and women who, along with our legions of trail adopters and other volunteer trail stewards, help maintain the 1,800 miles of trails for which AMC is responsible in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.
And getting dirty is an inescapable part of the job. Last year alone, 267 drainage ditches wouldn’t have been created, 374 rock steps wouldn’t have been placed, and 154 bog bridges wouldn’t have found their way to swampy stretches of hiking trails near and far without our trail crew’s willingness to get dirty.
Andrew tells me an admittedly hefty laundry bill is a small price to pay for the satisfaction that comes with knowing AMC’s trail crews are making a difference in the outdoors. They’re not just helping to create durable trails that provide convenient treadways for hikers. Their work hardening trails, diverting runoff from rain, snow, and ice, and replacing slippery slopes with bomb-proof stone staircases is preventing erosion, protecting resources, and keeping treasured trails from simply washing away.
AMC’s professional trail crew has a huge task ahead this summer as it deals with extensive damage wrought on the Nineteen-Mile Brook Trail in the White Mountains. It’s the most popular approach route to AMC’s Carter Notch Hut, which marks its 100th anniversary this year.
Whether you’ve hiked Nineteen-Mile once or 100 times, I’d wager you wouldn’t recognize it in its current condition. Torrential rains from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 rerouted the brook in several spots. The swollen stream bashed through its banks and carved a new course, leaving trees upturned, boulders exposed, and steep drop-offs where a sturdy path had stood for generations.
And that’s not the only trail project AMC will be taking on this summer. There are many others our professional and volunteer crews will be working on throughout our region, in the Whites, on the Webster-Jackson, Avalon, and Falling Waters trails; on Mount Prospect in the Berkshires; along the Ringing Rocks Trail in the Pennsylvania Highlands; and in the Delaware Water Gap, Cardigan Reservation, Acadia, and the Maine Woods.
Thanks to all of you who support AMC’s trail stewardship. We are fortunate to belong to such a dedicated community willing to step up to help protect the resources we value for outdoor recreation, ecological protection, and spiritual renewal.
Andrew and his crews will need to muster all the resources they can—from patience to know-how to muscle to money—to tackle this summer’s challenges. They have the determination to succeed, and I think you and I have every reason to believe they will.
Our support will allow them to do the dirty work that benefits us all and continue to be leaders in trail work.
CALL TO ACTION
John D. Judge