The Wayne National Forest was all quiet except for the critters going about their early autumn duties – serine that is until the sound of a walk behind brush mower engine roared to life accompanied by a chainsaw. The singing machines were not a bad thing, actually, on this quiet Saturday morning in the National Forest of southeast Ohio. They were signs that a dedicated crew of volunteers was beginning a four-day stint of trail maintenance on approximately 60 miles of the Buckeye Trail.
The Buckeye Trail (www.buckeyetrail.org) consists of nearly 1500 miles of off-road hiking trails and on-road portions, providing an organized hiking and backpacking adventure around Ohio. The morning described earlier found my wife Linda and I, tagging along with several BT volunteers to witness folks with dedication and passion for Ohio’s longest hiking trail in action.
One of those trail friends was Dan, a husky mature man showing no shyness of hard labor. He flanked another worker, Mark, who was the brush mower jockey, with lopping shears and a Pulaski hoe. Brush was trimmed back and trail-blocking fallen trees had a four foot section of their trunks removed from the trail to keep hikers on path. The briars had not been trimmed since last year, the reason Dan’s arms showed a couple streaks of blood for his briar battles. Byron, a BT volunteer with over 1000 hours of service to the BT and its hikers, scouted ahead removing additional trail obstacles. Following behind, was Sandy and Susie, the blaze painting crew. Brush trimmed back, trail floor clear, and freshly painted blue blazes definitely had this section of the BT looking very inviting. And that is exactly what the BT volunteers hope for – to attract more hikers to Ohio’s premiere hiking and backpacking trail that loops around the Buckeye State and nears each corner.
Next time you’re on a trail, consider the efforts of trail builders and maintainers. And if you are interested in doing some trail work yourself, I know some folks that have a brush mower and lopping shears that will fit your hands perfectly.
Video intro of the Buckeye Trail in editing now. Expect to publish on the Adventures Found YouTube channel this week (October 4). Check it out!
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