I did something completely new to me this week. My fitness adventure on Saturday was to participate in National Trails Day. It is an initiative by the American Hiking Society and there are a plethora of activities that take place around the country. Here in Fort Collins, June 1st was the 5th event co-sponsored by REI Fort Collins, Larimer County Conservation Corps and the City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department. The Fort Collins events are service oriented. The past several years they have done trail work at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area. This year, they tackled Soapstone Prairie.
If you’ve been around this blog for long you know I’m no stranger to Soapstone Prairie. While it is a bit of trek out of town, I love the wide open vistas and the rolling hills, not to mention the historical value of the area (it is home to the Lindenmeier archeological site). So, giving back to the natural area while burning calories, getting out and seeing people and filling a Saturday morning and early afternoon seemed liked a no-brainer.
I am so glad I participated in National Trails Day! I had no clue what kind of work I’d be in for but I figured at this stage in my fitness journey I was up for most anything. I also knew some of the 80 people participating would be kids so there had to be something at my ability level ;-) They split everyone up into 5 different adult groups. The majority of us worked on erosion control along the Cheyenne Rim Trail, the main trail off of the South parking lot. The 4 other small groups did a variety of activities, including putting in a culvert if I recall correctly.
I somehow ended up with 4 college kids who worked for REI and we rocked it. It took a bit for me to find where I fit in terms of the job duties, but I discovered I was good at shoveling and hauling gravel (even with a dilapidated wheelbarrow that liked to tip over on its rickety leg) and not so good at trying to break up the clay of the trail. Together we put in nearly 1/2 of the water bumps that were installed that day. Now, we did leave ours not quite finished and the kids followed behind and completed the covering and tamping. But dang my crew was great at putting in the trenches to sink the large rocks into and we got into a good rhythm of my putting in gravel under and around those rocks.
I shouldn’t have been surprised, as I worked with some of the people putting this together for nearly a year, but I was impressed with how organized it was. I also loved how well they set it up to work with kids. The kids crew was set up adjacent to the adults. The kids (those who were done) were taken back to the picnic shelter an hour ahead of everyone else to play some educational nature games with some of the Natural Area Master Naturalists before the lunch. Really a lot of the kids stuck it out and I was surprised.
Speaking of lunch, Backcountry Provisions, a sandwich shop in Old Town on College Ave donated all the sandwiches for our lunch that day. They were really good. I’m going to have to remember that as I’ve never eaten there before and they have a lot of more interesting sandwiches on their menu. They are also accustomed to packing up the goods to take with on hikes and have the hours to go along with that — opening at 7am!
It was definitely a productive day. I had dust up to my knees! I don’t know of a better measure. Well, other than how stiff I was at the end of Now You See Me that I went to with my friends Tam & Simmon that evening :-)
Have you ever participated in an activity like this before? What physical activity have you tried recently that was outside your normal routine?