The second week of Crew Leader training took us out of the classroom to learn field skills. Hopping in a fully-loaded van and trailer, we drove for 4 hours to Ivy’s Wildlife Refuge in East Texas. For a couple of us, this was our first real “hitch.” With our tents pitched, we wasted no time in getting our boots into the forest. Our first task was to re-establish the corridor of a preexisting trail – this meant that we used loppers and handsaws to trim any plants that had grown over the trail. Our trimming eventually led us down to a pleasant little waterfall, which was the perfect introduction to this beautiful property.
Over the next couple days we learned more about forming trails, including cutting the tread, which in conservation language means making the ground walkable while optimizing waterflow over the path. Forming the trails turned out to be highly rewarding. I felt a real satisfaction when I returned to the campsite at the end of the day by walking over a path I had helped create.
Besides learning about the operation and maintenance of hand tools, I was additionally happy to learn more about my fellow leaders. Everyone was eager to help at the campsite, to work, and just as eager to converse and learn more about each other. It was an endearing first hitch, and has made me confident that my commitment for this service term was a good choice.