Ouachita National Forest

The cool nights and extravagant views of Arkansas’ Ouachita Mountains were a welcome change of pace for the Texas Conservation Corps field crew, Black Pack. Before leaving for Arkansas, the crew had spent three scorching weeks working in San Antonio at the historic San Antonio Missions National Park, followed by a particularly rainy ten days in Louisiana’s Kisatchie National Forest. Accompanied by guest member, and Boston Red Socks enthusiast, Mark Favorito, the crew spent ten days hiking and maintaining the scenic Ouachita Trail, partnered by the United States Forest Service and an amazing group of local volunteer trail workers known as Friends of the Ouachita Trail, or FOOT for short.

The time spent in the Ouachita Mountains was a special moment allowing these young people to reflect on their decision to dedicate a year of their lives to the service of AmeriCorps, and the public lands of the United States. There may be no better way to describe the feeling than FOOT volunteer and main contact to the outside world, Ron Mayfield’s daily greeting, “Ahh – Another day in paradise.” The little things like free burgers at a local joint in rural Arkansas, or Coco, Ron’s trail dog running up overjoyed to see you after a long day of work, almost amount to the total sum of contentment one feels after completing twenty miles of trail work that will be enjoyed by people of all ages, origins, and backgrounds. It is a rare pleasure to know that your actions will effect numerous lives of people who may never even know your name or the impact you have made in a beautiful forest.

Black Pack is currently back in San Antonio working to complete the reconstruction of the wooden ramparts that guard the gates of beautiful Mission San José. Although Black Pack is returning to San Antonio for the fourth and fifth time, they are still able to accomplish the goal they have all individually brought with them from all over the United States, impact the lives, communities and ecosystems all around them, and as every AmeriCorps member pledges, “get things done for America.”

❤ Black Pack

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