Wednesday, February 4, 2015

22. Trail Maintenance

Before we get to the real writing, I thought I should tell you a little bit about our current life!

CG Update:
OH MY WORD I made a gigantic fire in the wood burning stove in Tiny House, and I am SWEATING LIKE CRAZY. It's snowing outside, it's the middle of winter, Tiny House is basically half-buried in a gigantic snow drift, and I feel like I'm trying to write a blog on the precipice of a volcano. Hyperbole, you say? You would be correct! But it's hot. I'm not complaining, I'm just updating you on my current state of being. All you ever get are my typed words and photographs of my past self, so the least I can do is tell you about my current body temperature. Also, my hair is long now!

DT Update: 
His shoulder is dislocated! And he's in Canada! We both work at a truly fabulous little democratically run high school here, and DT is the photography and outdoor leadership teacher. He is in Canada for a few weeks for a learning intensive, and he has dislocated his shoulder again. I wasn't there for all the excitement this time, but you can always learn about the last time he dislocated his shoulder, while we were hiking in Tennessee! Also, DT's hair is long now!

Tiny House Update:
Our friend Mike took a fun video tour of our house when he was visiting at the beginning of January, and you can watch it here!
Fair warning: DT uses the "s" word a few times when discussing compost. Other than that it's all copacetic. 

On to the writing!

Now that I've told you about the awesome people that maintain the trail year after year, I'm going to do my best to convince you to go out there and do it! At least once. I cannot tell you to do it more than once because I have not yet done it more than once. But I paid my dues! It's a heck of a difficult job, but it's also great fun, and a wonderful way to bond with your fellow humans. 

After Trail Days, Dumptruck and I went to do Hard Core, which is a 2 day trail maintenance explosion that has happened traditionally every year. It is (or was) organized by Bob Peoples of Kincora Hostel in Tennessee. Half of the crew are the AT legends, older folks that have hiked the trail numerous times, and who want to give back every year. The other half of the crew are all the young whipper snappers scooped up from Trail Days. In order to be able to be part of the crew, you had to be one of the first 30 hikers to sign up eeeaaarly in the morning at Trail Days. We were there at the break of dawn.


Kincora volunteers responsibility for a lengthy section of the trail through Tennessee, and each year they fix up sections that need fixing. When I went, we were transforming a straight ascent into a switchback. Everyone donned their hardhats and tromped up the mountain with tools to leave our mark on the AT.

Dumptruck literally got to leave his mark, as he got to paint one of the new blazes on a tree for the trail reroute. How awesome is that?! Getting to paint a white blaze is a big deal, folks. Almost as big of a deal as shaking the president's hand, or getting a 3" tall plastic Donald Duck figurine in your frosted flakes. These are the kinds of things that goes into journals under the heading of "BEST DAY OF MY LIFE."

My favorite moment of hardcore was when my friend BearSnack, a 5'2" tall professional bodybuilding female, got to quietly and unobtrusively show up all of the boys. There was a giant boulder in the way of the new trail being cut, and it had to be dug out and moved. After it was unearthed, three thick trailer tie ropes were wiggled underneath it, to allow for 6 people to each take an end of the rope, lift up the rock and move it. There were 5 guys already working on this, and when they looked up for a sixth, they saw Dumptruck and BearSnack.

Now, let's paint this picture a little bit more. We all know that Dumptruck is a tall, skinny beanpole. He's adorable and I think he's the handsomest man in the world, but he's also a tall, skinny beanpole. Meanwhile, this is BearSnack:

SHE'S AMAZING. That's 315 lbs.
So these five guys glance right past BearSnack to Dumptruck and say,

"Hey Dumptruck, can you help us with this?"

I asked BearSnack about this later. She is incredibly kind and sweet and thoughtful, and she expressed that she understood how the mistake could have been made (she wasn't standing there flexing, after all), but that it was mildly frustrating, as this sort of gendered nonsense happens a lot. Dumptruck's response was to laugh and say,

"Uh... pretty sure you should ask BearSnack for help with that."

Luckily these guys' gendered silliness only lasted as far as the initial question, and they were more than happy to accept her help. All six of them lifted the rock, and BearSnack kept having to sheepishly lower her section to meet the level of the guys. After several steps they all needed to stop and take a rest, and BearSnack would rest with them, but didn't look even a tiny bit fatigued by the process. She's a stone cold boss, and she wears flowers in her hair.

Clever Girl

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