Lost and Found

July 22, 2016 | 

Brian, Ivy, and Ceci – part of VYCC’s first-ever “assessment crew”
Brian, Ivy, and Ceci – part of VYCC’s first-ever “assessment crew”

Brightly colored cards and care packages addressed to Ivy Boomershine have been arriving by the handful at the West Monitor Barn in Richmond. Friends and family from her hometown of Wilmette, Illinois have been offering Ivy encouragement as she participates on VYCC’s first ever “assessment crew.”

Ivy is an incoming sophomore at Colorado College, in Colorado Springs – a small liberal arts college at the base of Pike’s Peak. Having completed a number of backpacking trips including an Alaska Mountaineering course last summer with NOLS, she is considering a major in environmental policy.

While most VYCC Corps Members are Vermonters, the program is open to youth and young adults from across the United States. It’s an opportunity for others to discover all Vermont has to offer. Ivy sought out VYCC so she could explore Vermont. It’s her first time in the state.

“The people are friendly and welcoming. I love the mountains. Vermont has great established trails, and lots of opportunities to hike.” As an experienced hiker, she is developing a deep appreciation for the work that goes into building and maintaining trails.

A collaboration between VYCC and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR), this specialized four-person crew helps FPR prioritize projects to ensure effective management of recreation areas, safer recreation access, and cost savings.

The assessment crew presents a terrific learning experience for young adults interested in developing trail and forest management skills. Ivy and her crew mates are completing three weeks at Bolton Nordic Center. On foot, armed with a compass, a trail map, a GPS, and notepads and paper, the crew prioritizes trail work based on erosion and user experience.

“We get lost a lot,” Ivy jokes as she consults the trail map. The crew is somewhere along the Loki Loop Trail. “The trails aren’t always well defined. The work we’re doing could be used to make a better map.” The crew comes to an intersection. Big smiles erupt, and Ivy exclaims, “A sign! We love signs.”  This one provides confirmation of the Loki Loop’s intersection with Bastia’s Bastion.

On this leg of the project, Ivy is the crew navigator while crew mate Ceci and Crew Leader Brian identify sections of the route that need work. They take photos, notes, and mark GPS location. Points 263 to 267 record steep and muddy patches where the trail is eroding, confusing turns, and stream crossings.

Ivy’s crew mate Bailey, from Newfane VT, credits Ivy for her navigation skills. “Every time we get lost she gets us back on track right away. When someone else is navigating, we get lost more often and for longer.” Even Brian, a Crew Leader with considerable experience, takes responsibility for getting the crew lost within the network of trails. They were exploring what appeared to be an unmarked trail, and lost their way. Brian knew that if they went a certain direction they would run into a trail, and they did, but it took a while.

Having completed their exploration of this trail system, these Corps Members can now navigate with a compass, estimate steep grades, and articulate the severity of trail erosion. They recorded 392 points in the course of covering approximately 40 miles on foot. They relished their discovery of Harrington’s View on the Long Trail, which provides a beautiful view of Mount Mansfield.

The crew’s has since moved to Mount Ascutney, with several more to follow. Whatever their location, Ivy and her crew mates’ cards, letters, and packages do not get lost. VYCC staff members make regular visits, and always bring the mail.