Conservation Begins Here
Three summers and four trail crews later, I have found myself in a different place than I could have ever imagined. It might be a tad cliché, but I can most definitely call myself older, bolder, and wiser because of my time with the SCA. Going from Mt. Rogers, VA, to Isle Royale, MI, to Mt. Rainier, WA, and most recently to the Great Smoky Mountains, NC, has been incredible. Though I cannot fully explain every experience I’ve had with the SCA—the grand total of experiences is innumerable—I can touch on some of the highlights from each of my crews: those special moments when you look back upon them you think, “Wow. We did good.”
For my first crew that moment would be when we were sitting on the top step of our recently finished rock staircase that was the accumulation of about a week’s worth of work. It had been an amazing feat and something to be proud of. The steps had all been placed without a winch and were all good-sized boulders capable of crushing a person. What this showed me is that nearly anything can be accomplished when it is done in small, reasonably sized steps (quite literally). This is very similar to a moment from my second crew where we compared the before and after photos of a new section of trail we had to clear. It had been overgrown to the point at which you could not see someone in the trail in front of you unless he or she was less than a few paces away. When we were done and had cut the corridor according to the specifications you would’ve had to have your face buried in the dirt to think that no progress had been made.
During crew number three we had the ability to hike above the tree line and stare down on our worksite one day. From there we could easily see how we helped the incredibly sensitive sub-alpine environment and had prevented more social trails from destroying the ancient heather communities. (Fast fact- Some of the heather communities at Mount Rainier have existed for nearly ten thousand years, courtesy of the NPS). In the Great Smoky Mountains something of a different sort happened. A hiker had broken her ankle just a little ways down the trail from where we were working, so our entire crew assisted on a carryout using a litter. Teamwork was key in that case as we had to function as a unit in order to carry the woman uphill and out to the parking lot.
Now for my future with the SCA, I can say this: I intend to keep the SCA close to my heart and a predominant part of my life for the rest of my life. Since I have aged-out of the National High School Crew program I plan on taking the next step of becoming an apprentice crew leader next year and eventually a full crew leader when I am old enough. The SCA is amazing in every way: the people you meet, the experiences you have, the work you accomplish – there’s nothing to disappoint.
Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area, VA:
Isle Royale National Park, MI:
Mt. Rainier National Park, WA:
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC (North Carolina Side):