by Kyle Obermiller
I want you to picture walking down a beautiful hiking trail through towering oaks, listening to the sweet sound of dozens of birds chirping to one another and watching squirrels chase each other around and around the trunks of the trees. The trail heads down towards a babbling brook, and in the distance you hear leaves rustling from deer running through the understory. You are looking in every direction, soaking up the beauty of the natural world on a dirt path that is just a few feet wide. The trails you enjoy on our preserves are wonderful works of art. They are chosen to follow a path that will show you many different beautiful areas in our preserves. Much like the old mountain roads I grew up driving on, they travel a slow and winding path, making the adventure in the journey, not the destination.
Before y’all ever get to spend time enjoying the beauty of hiking trails, months of planning and work go into building them. The fun starts when the trail is marked, flagged, and the building begins. It is here where we spend countless hours and exert all the might we have to construct a quality hiking trail. At the core of this work are our volunteers of the Conservation Corps. Members of the C.C. spend 3 hours every Thursday on different preserves tackling invasive plants, woodworking, and trail building. The great men and women volunteers we have are incredibly hard workers! When we have the trail marked out with flags, I go ahead and clear off the leaves and organic layer with a blower or rake. Once at the end of a section, I’ll turn around to see our volunteers with a full head of steam barreling down upon me. Dirt and roots are flying left and right, rocks are rolled out of the way, and behind them new trail rises from the forest floor. They truly enjoy the work, and enjoy the satisfaction of outworking a young gun like myself.
In all seriousness, we owe many thanks to all our volunteers who help out in so many different ways. I would like to especially thank the members of the Conservation Corps who like to come out nearly every week to help out the stewardship staff in our projects. Want to learn more about volunteering with TLC? Visit http://www.triangleland.org/what-can-you-do/page/volunteer for more information on ways you can help!