Sunday, July 29, 2012


This is what we did this weekend!  We built trails.

Have you ever wondered while hiking how trails are built?  I have.  I've imagined a bunch of burly young guys, full of energy, moving boulders and and getting sweaty and dirty.

At the beginning of summer I wanted Amelia to experience volunteer work.  I got on-line and searched for something that she could work on that would tame her teenage energy.  I wanted her to feel like she could contribute to her community in a positive way.  It's different having a teenager.  You want them to feel connected to your family but you also want them to learn to fly a bit on their own.  That's how I see it anyway.

The Tahoe Rim Trail goes all the way around Lake Tahoe and the portion we have been working on will link that trail with the Mount Rose trail head.

We learned all kinds of things while volunteering.  First, a lot of people that work on this trail are enthusiastic retired people.  I should have known.  Secondly, there are all other types too.  We were the only family and the crew leaders were so good about involving Solomon even though he's only 10 years old.  Amelia was an old pro at it this weekend because she had gone a previous weekend.  There were also a few young burly guys.

Thirdly, I learned about the tools of the trade like the McLeod.  You can do all kinds of things with this multi-use tool.  The Pulaski is a tool which combines an ax and a adze (duh).  And also the usual pick mattock, the crow bar, the shovels and loppers.  I know I'm forgetting a few.  We had a lesson on all of these at the beginning about how to hold them, use them and lay them down when not in use. 

I learned words like duff which is the decaying leaves and branches covering a forest floor.  I learned about testing your trail to make sure it was deep and stable enough.  I learned that if you think you've gotten all the rocks out then you're fooling yourself and it's best to rake it over and compact it.  I learned that taking a lunch break gives you new perspective on your work. I got pretty frustrated with my section because every time I thought I had removed all the duff, my crew leader would come by and tell me I needed to remove even more.  

At the end of the day, our team had made 300 ft more trail.  It was such a good feeling.  I thought about hiking this trail sometime next year and being so proud of the section we built together as a family.  It was such a positive experience for us that I want to continue through the rest of the summer.

I'd love to hear about any volunteering that your family knows about!

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