Category Archives: Student Posts

Trail Crew 2016

The 2016 Thetford Academy Trail Crew took place over the first week of summer vacation. The trail crew was made up of 8 students going into grades 9-12: Conner Tatro, Jonathan Hayes, Emily Emerson, Emma Thorburn, Nate O’Donnell, Georgia Flynn, and Shannon Hayes, and Christian Robinson. Design Technology teacher, Chris Schmidt, supervised the work crew. We met each morning at 8:30 and worked until 4:30 in the afternoon. It was really hard work, but we had a lot of fun as well. We improved the Fireplace Trail and Ridge Trails, including building 2 bridges and posting multiple trail signs that we created in the shop. We built 1200 feet of new trail to complete the Ridge Loop entirely on Academy lands, and we blazed the trails with light blue blazes. On the last day, we enjoyed a hike up Mimi’s Trail and a final swim at Treasure Island.
Day 1
We began the day in the shop with a demonstration of the cnc router carving the signs. Then we painted the letters Thetford Blue on 15 new signs. We used the TA logo with a circle around it for TA Outdoors.
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The rest of the morning consisted of carrying two rounds of 12, 5 gallon buckets filled with dirt and gravel to a wet section 200 yards down the trail.
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We also carried in several 4x4s to use for a berm. We then spent time clearing a channel to go underneath a bridge that was already there. Jay and the Design Tech II class had built this bridge last fall but never fully integrated it into the trail. We added a frame for a berm at each end of the bridge and filled the berm frame with the dirt and gravel we had carried earlier.
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We still needed 5 more buckets of gravel, but we carried those in the next day. We hiked out of the park just after 4pm. It was a good first day of work.

Day 2
On the second day we began again in the shop, sanding and staining the trail signs. Then we shoveled gravel into buckets and brought them to the other trail head. Again, we carried them down to the other wet section of trail. The muddy part of the trail was over 30 feet wide. To cross this section, first we dug in the mud to pull out all of the sticks and roots that were blocking the channel so the water could run freely. Then we built two 12’ sections of bridge in place over the channel. In addition, we but a frame out of pressure treated 4x4s and filled it gravel as a berm. After filling the berm with the gravel, we had a nice walkway over the mud.
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After lunch, we dug some post holes and then Mr.Schmidt suggested that we take a nice little hike to the Ompompanoosuc River. The hike we took was NOT little. We got to the river which was refreshing. The hike back was terrible; it was all up hill, and we were running out of time so we booked it through the woods and were happy to finally find a trail back to the picnic area. We all drank a ton of water or gatorade when we got back. We finished the day a little late, and more than a little tired.

Day 3

Day three included many things. First we stained the trail signs again. We didn’t have to carry any buckets….THANK GOD! We then headed out to the Ridge Trail and some of us dug another post hole by using these tools: a shovel, rock bar, pick axe, and post hole digger. After we finished that, we started working on the new trail section, where we side-hilled about 1200 feet of new trail. We all got stuck on a lot of rocks, and roots this day, and Conner said “OHHH MAN” after laughing really hard every few minutes. The tools definitely came in handy, but side-hilling can be a pain. It can also be a good stress reliever, however. Emma took out all her frustrations with a pick ax on the poor little roots. After we got done with digging out the side hill we flattened out the trail using rakes and our boots.
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We used the clippers to cut out all the roots so no one would get tripped up. Roots can be a pain because they are everywhereeeee! At the end of the day we hiked back over the section of trail and admired all the work we had finished that day. When we got back to the shop, we put one more coat of stain on the signs and Mr. Schmidt showed us how to use a bow drill to start a fire. Nate was obsessed.

Day 4
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On the last day of work we went around putting up the signs and cleaning up the trails. This was the easiest day because there weren’t many challenges throughout the day. We spent a few minutes dredging the channel for the water to flow at the bridge that we made on Day 2. We also finished blazing the Ridge Trail. We realized there was a problem with the post near the new section: it was too close to the trail and we were concerned that mountain bikers might run into it. We had to move the trail a few feet over so the bikers would not hit the post. We had a lot of fun throughout the week and we wished there was more work to do. “I really like playing in the mud,” said Shannon, Conner, and Georgia. Nate wanted more time to practice making fire with the bow drill. At the end of the day, we did some orienteering training with map and compass.

Day 5
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Day five was our fun day. He hiked past the elementary school to Mimi’s trail and up Houghton Hill. We saw several deer along the way. We ate lunch at the top and met a nice black lab puppy who was hiking with his owner. After paying fetch for a while, we hiked down and back to the shop. We then went to Treasure Island for the afternoon, which was good because it was really hot. Mr. Schmidt gave us some drum sticks and ice cream sandwiches and fruit popsicles. Then we played in the water and tried some fishing. Everyone left by 4:30, saying “Have a great summer.” Nate was very sad the week was over.
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Here are some more photos from the week:

Overnight on Camel’s Hump

The following post was co-written by all the campers as they drove home from the trip, exhausted–but in a good way:

The fearless outdoors club left campus around noon on Saturday, despite forecasts of cold and rain. After picking up Izzy from her ACTs, we set off to Camel’s Hump Mountain. Some listened to ghost stories in Mrs. Dedam’s car on the ride up, noticing all the other little ghosty moments, like caution tape and french road signs, and entertaining the possibility that Camel’s Hump was haunted. In reality, the only thing to fear was the possibility of a bear… The other car listed to Emma (who admits she likes to talk). We arrived at the trailhead right on time, signed in, and headed up the trail, taking note of the warning sign: “local bears are eating campers’ food.”

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The first part of the hike, carrying all of our stuff up to the campsite, was difficult, but once we got there, we set up tents and left our heavy gear behind.  Much relieved, we began the ascent. Climbing the mountain was exciting as we scurried up the rocky trail in order to make it to the top before sunset. Once we arrived, breathless and content, on the windy peak, we saw the lights from Burlington glowing at us in the oncoming darkness. The wind was so fierce at the top it felt like we were going to blow away, but it was worth it for the beautiful view.

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The sun set as we started down the mountain and out came the headlamps and flashlights. The glow of the lights from our friends shined through the trees and glinted off a few patches of ice. Some trees even had snow on them. After about an hour of going down the treacherous slope, the trail finally evened out and we found the turnoff to the campsite. The last part of the hike back to the camp was much easier.

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At the campsite, we layed down our packs and started to light the fire. After ten mintues work, we were ready to eat: back to the bear box and out with the sausages. We ate hot dogs and two types of veggie sausages for our “first course”; Mrs. Dedam and Mr. Schmidt decided that Izzy’s veggie ones were better than the tofurkey ones. We wrapped up potatoes in tin foil and put them in the fire to bake. Next, we made tons of smores: “pass the ‘mallows,” “where are the graham crackers?” “Who wants cheese?” Finally we pulled our baked potatoes out of the coals and stuffed them with Vermont sharp and extra sharp cheddar.

All in all there were five tents, but the guys (excluding Mr. Schmidt) were all in the same tent, which leaked as it rained and hailed all night long. We were saved from the bears by Austin’s snoring. It could probably be heard on the other side of the mountain. Although  Izzy and Jenny swear the bear was sniffing around their tent at 4:00 in the morning (just after their rain fly blew off).

After very little sleep (except for Ms. Dedam, who enjoyed a night away from her toddlers), we rose with the sun and packed up, grabbing bagels and cream cheese for the last mile down. The ride back was rather subdued: even Emma slept quietly in the back seat. After stopping for coffee and dropping off the Straford kids, we returned to TA at 11 AM, ready for a good night of make-up sleep.

Less than 24 hours, but full of great memories!