The woods bring us peace, they provide a place for fun, a space for contemplation and quite simply, make us happy to be human and alive on this planet. This relationship is usually a one way street; we get alot more than we give. So when the opportunity arises for us to return the love, we jump--Even when the forecast calls for rain, snow, temps in the teens and 60 MPH wind gusts...
This past weekend, the Destination Backcountry Adventures team helped replace the roof on the Devil’s Acre lean-to on Hunter Mountain. This project, and all other trail maintenance and related work in the Catskills, is the responsibility of the NY/NJ Trail Conference. The vast majority of the actual work is performed by volunteers, who are coordinated through the Catskill Conservation Corps.
Our advance crew headed up on Friday afternoon with Will Soter, our good friend and owner of Upstate Adventure Guides. Will is also Assistant Program Director for the Catskill Conservation Corps and he was our foreman and fearless leader for the weekend. Our hike in was classic early Spring in the Catskills--pleasant 60’s and sunny. Nice enough that a few Spring Beauties were poking their heads out wish us a Happy Spring, so we were surprised that only 1 of the 7 or so volunteers who had committed showed up.
We made quick work of stripping about 600lbs of old, asphalt shingles to make way for a more natural, cedar roof. Finishing up just before dark, we hiked a bit less than 2 miles to the summit of Hunter, where 600 lbs of gorgeous new cedar shingles were awaiting transport to their new home.
We were joined that night by a volunteer trio from the Hudson Valley Hikers and the next morning, the advance crew began the task of hauling the construction materials from the summit a couple of miles down to the lean-to while Will hiked 8 miles round-trip down to the trailhead to meet additional volunteers. Unfortunately, these volunteers didn’t show, but something we hadn’t seen much of this winter did make an appearance--SNOW!
By noon, it was really starting to come down and we were really starting to worry about how we would be able get about 1000lbs construction supplies down 2 miles of snowy trail to our construction site. And just then, the cavalry arrived!
The DBA crew rolled into camp and were soon joined by our buddy Mike D’ Anniballe, owner of Hike with Mike and another volunteer from Hudson Valley Hikers, Sarah. With our work crew now doubled (but still about half of what it should have been) we got cranking! As conditions rapidly deteriorated, the crew split into teams; some hauled supplies from the summit, others got a fire cranking. Which, in these conditions, was not a luxury but a necessity. At least if we wanted to warm off hypothermia...
Before long, we had the tar paper down, a team cutting shingles to size, multiple teams nailing them down and the rest supporting them with supply runs (85lbs at a time!) or keeping us fueled with Mountain Mocha and hot soup!
Thank to everyone’s hard--and smart--teamwork, we were wrapping up just as the sun set. And the temps began to plunge... We ate a well earned and hearty dinner and built up our fire as the snow accumulated. Snuggled in tight in the lean-to--under the new roof!--we went to sleep and awoke to this!
Seeing the the temps were in the teens and knowing that Big Blue was waiting for us at the trailhead, we packed up and hiked a quick, slippery, snowy 4 miles down to the trailhead and invaded Brio’s in Phoenicia for a huge recovery meal!
Of course no renovation or repair project is complete until you've seen the requisite "before & after" pic--enjoy!