by Ed Lawrence, KTA Trail Care Chair
As winter loosens its crystalliferous grip under a steadily growing wave of sunshine, both the sap and the mercury are climbing through Pennsylvania’s forests. Hikers are eager to stretch their legs, consult their maps, adjust their walking sticks, and top off their water bottles. Many members of the hiking community also reach for their work gloves, loppers, blaze paint, and brushes. These volunteers know that the toll winter takes on hiking trails can include obstacle courses of downed branches, uprooted trees, and decaying deadfalls. Spring brings its own panoply of new growth to laurel, rhododendron, azalea, and all manner of other rooted herbage, putting the squeeze on familiar trail corridors. Often, inspired by their own roots in the hiking experience, these Trail Care volunteers want to ensure that the hiking opportunities they’ve enjoyed remain available for whoever feels the lure of the trailhead. Their personal familiarity with the satisfactions and comradery of trail work motivates them to resume their stewardship mission.
The KTA Trail Care Program’s first outing this year will be April 5-8 working on the White Mountain Ridge Trail in the newly established Penns Creek Wild Area of Bald Eagle State Forest. Many participants of the 2017 KTA Fall Hiking Weekend at Wesley Forest got to experience firsthand the rugged beauty of this remote area. The event will be conveniently based out of a cabin at the corner of Weikert and Trails End Roads. This year, for the first time, Friday will be an official part of the work weekend—a Bonus Trail Day (or BTD). Volunteers can pack in on Thursday night or anytime thereafter as their schedules allow. If arriving in the morning on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, volunteers should plan to get there by 7:30 AM to be assigned to a work crew.
The second Trail Care (also a BTD event) will be April 26-29 in Pinchot State Forest to work on the Pinchot Trail. Work will be based out of the nearby Manny Gordon Picnic Area. No prior experience is needed to join the volunteer crew—there is always something for all levels of physical abilities and preferences. As Tom Thwaites said, “The rewards of trail work are as real as they are little known.” See for yourself what he meant.
Keystone Trails Association