In 2017, Endless Trails board members put in more than a thousand hours (!) of trail work & community service.
In 2018, we want to do even more—and we hope to have your help in accomplishing that goal!
Toward that end, we're doing two things: 1) If you've expressed an interest in trail work in the past, we'll be reaching out to you in January to better gauge what trails you're interested in supporting and how we can help empower and facilitate you getting out on the trails to help build, maintain, and restore them.
2) We're taking a moment to reflect on the lessons we've learned from our trail work and community service this past year in the hopes of better informing future trail work.
Learn from others' experiences
Bri learned it on the trail, as she earned her B Crosscut Saw certification and spent countless hours with grizzled trail work vets, including some of the best from the Backcountry Horsemen. Karen noted that one of the best parts of getting Veterans out on the water is taking the opportunity to hear their stories, and the lessons they learned in their service to our country. Chris noted it as he leaned on others while building a home. Ryan learned the sheer amount of work that can sometimes go into a single, seemingly small project, such as the bridge reconstruction project that required hauling heavy gear three miles each way day-after-day. We learned time and time again from others—while building or repairing trail, in a wilderness medicine context, or even simply in communing with others who share our love of the outdoors.
Learning how to step outside ourselves and learn from the experiences of those around us was one of the best lessons we took from 2017, and one we'll continue to work into Endless Trails (and beyond) in 2018.
Pace yourself so you can work sustainably
This year we began to learn to pace ourselves, to use a more sustainable effort in our work so that we could work more efficiently and more often without burning out. Chris, too, noted how important pace was as he worked on projects on his land and built a tiny home; when you listen to what is a sustainable effort, it stands to reason that you can maintain that effort for a much longer time, and as a result, get more done in the long run.
We've perhaps all seen how true this can be in running (and training), but in 2017, we began to see how clearly this lesson applies to the rest of life, too—whether in trail work, in building something, or while standing up for the things you believe in within your community and beyond (like fighting for public lands, affordable health insurance, Science, and/or women's rights).
It's easy to be overwhelmed. Pacing yourself ensures it will happen far less often.
Meet people where they're at
One thing that has sometimes been hard for us in the past has been realizing that while nearly everyone who uses trails likes the idea of work being done on and in support of those trails, not everyone wants to do trail work.
And really, that makes total sense to us. Trail work is hard, dirty, sweaty, and oftentimes thankless work—often much harder than people expect it to be—and it often takes a significant investment of time, too. Building even a mile of trail may well take a hundred hours of labor or more, and repairing trail isn't always much faster, depending on the work needed. Further, when trail work is done well, it looks natural—that is, you may not even be able to tell that work was done, unless you already knew what it looked like before trail work began.
As a result of the effort and time required, it has sometimes been tremendously frustrating to see what small percentage of trail runners are actually willing to do trail work vs. talk about doing trail work. (And again, it makes sense to us, even as we wish we could magically make trail work a requirement for recreating on trails.) Most trail runners can only allocate so much time to outdoor pursuits, and would rather spend that time training/running/recreating rather than building or repairing trail. If you're one of those people: We get it, for sure. And we're not judging you.
We're committed to meeting people where they're at with regards to trail work and other outdoor volunteer opportunities we're coordinating in 2018 and beyond. We hope to encourage more people to do even 30 minutes or an hour of trail work sometime this spring/summer/fall, even if they can't commit to multiple hours or days of work. You can stay abreast of our ongoing trail work schedule and sign up for trail work parties here.
We also hope those who can't do trail work will support new and ongoing trail work efforts by making financial donations to Endless Trails and other outdoor, conservation-minded nonprofits and orgs who are working hard to care for and keep the trails we all use in good shape. (Every little bit counts, and helps tremendously! Especially as it takes a tremendous amount of work and time to keep many trails in good shape—often much more than you'd think.)