Do you enjoy walking on clear, open trails? Have you ever thought about the work involved in maintaining the trails you enjoy? Before I started researching our local trails for my Easy Walks book series, I thought little about who created and worked to keep walking trails open.
Sometimes bushes grow up and encroach on trails. Leaves fall and block streams, forcing water onto trails.
Rain erodes and washes out trails. Trees fall down and block trails.
This morning I was reminded what it’s like when nature does what it does. Ahem–yes, today we encountered one huge pine tree laying across the trail, with lots of spiky branches upping the ante when it came to whether I’d get under and past it or not.
After I struggled to climb under (that is–crawl under) and away from the entangling branches, I resolved to call the caretakers of the property to alert them about the situation. As we emerged from the woods, four young men were headed our direction, one carrying a chain saw. They wore matching t-shirts–clearly a parks department crew.
“Headed to that pine tree?” we asked. “Yup, we were working yesterday but the chain saw ran out of gas before we could get to that one.” They stopped only long enough to allow me to get their photo, then headed on their way, doing just what lots of trail crew folks do, quietly, without looking for applause.
Besides the effects on trails of wind, weather, and falling trees, people and our propensity to distribute trash in the great outdoors presents additional challenges.Volunteer’s efforts to clean up trash in our waterways and trails have made outdoor experiences for many of us much more satisfying. I’ve met a number of folks who make a habit of bringing bags along on their walks to facilitate collecting trash.
Cleaning up all the trash left along trails and waterways is a Sisyphean task, for sure, but it makes a difference.
So whether you were looking for it or not, to all you folks who helped me have a great walk today, to those who helped anyone enjoy the outdoors today: Thank You. You know who you are. I know you don’t do this for the thanks. But thanks, anyway.
Marjorie Turner Hollman
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and has completed two guides to Easy Walking trails in Massachusetts, “Easy Walks in Massachusetts 2nd edition,” and “More Easy Walks in Massachusetts.” A native Floridian, she came north for college and snow! New England Regional Chair for the Association of Personal Historians, she is a Certified Legacy Planner with LegacyStories.org, and is the producer of numerous veterans interviews for the Bellingham/Mendon Veteran’s History Project. http://www.marjorieturner.com