The days felt like weeks and the weeks felt like days, but here we are. Five months of training, trail work, and living in the woods has come to an end. We built bridges and got over them, much like the hardships we faced in our own lives. Being part of the Adirondack Corps meant more than building trails. It was about the sense of community, doing good work that all could benefit from, and for me, it was a journey to self-discovery. When I accepted this position, I thought I was running from my life, from that guy that broke my heart, those jobs that rejected me, the friends that didn’t have the time for me. The reality of it all was that I was running to the exact place I was meant to be.
This job was a god send. At one of the lowest points in my life, I get an email from Mr. Burns asking to interview me for this position, and within a matter of a week, I was booking a one-way ticket to New York, and to my new life. I was ready to push myself not only physically but mentally and socially as well. I was ready to start over. Life had knocked me down and this was the opportunity to change the course I was on. I was leaving behind a broken heart, a mind-numbing job, and a mediocre life for the hopes that where I was going would light the fire back into my soul.
The physical aspect of the job wasn’t what scared me, it was the most enticing thing about the position. I have always been the quiet kid that keeps to herself, so living in the wilderness for 5 and 10 days at a time was a dream. Hitches were tiresome, and were a test of strength and endurance. We were building trails, but in a sense, I think the trails were building us. From hiking the Mount Erebis loop in saw boots to carrying loaded down packs 5 miles to Cedar Lake, I was able to power through the pain and make it to the end. A huge thanks to my crew for helping me up when I fell and encouraging me through to the end.
The scariest part about coming to the Adirondacks was that I would be living in a community setting. I am shy and reserved and the thought of having 17 others to live with made me anxious. Insecurities ran my life before coming here. I lost my confidence in a bad relationship and I feared that my crew wouldn’t be accepting of who I was. It was quite the opposite; everyone seemed to enjoy who I am. I promised myself I would get out of my comfort zone and try new things. Leaving my social comfort zone was the most difficult thing I faced this season. Even though I didn’t always participate in games after work and cringed at some questions of the day, I did step out of my box a lot and got to know and love my crew for it.
I didn’t realize how trying this season would be on me mentally. It wasn’t the living in the woods 10 days that got to me. It was the combination of eating hummus powder and quick oats every single day, wearing the same smelly, dirty shirt, and the physical exhaustion that comes with cutting tread and moving rocks day in and day out, come rain or shine. Thankfully, the cries of outrage were followed be the 3:30 giggles about nothing and everything, but mostly “Wolverbean.” I never once wanted to quit and move back to Texas, even when bracing the frigid waters of Little Tupper Lake during canoe training. I knew the temperatures would rise and the rain would stop, and even if it didn’t, I had some amazing new friends by my side to get me through and make me laugh.
Nine hundred hours, 10 hitches, 5 months; these numbers were overwhelming in the beginning but turned out to be critical to my journey. I am walking away with new friends, a sense of accomplishment, and a better understanding of the conservation field. Most importantly, I am finally able to love myself and the person that I am. I wouldn’t have reached this point if my fearless leaders Hans and Emily weren’t there giving me the encouragement and confidence in my leadership abilities along the way. I wouldn’t even be in New York if Jeremy hadn’t taken a chance and let me be a part of this crew. Lastly, I wouldn’t be standing here today, if my fellow crew hadn’t been so kind, welcoming and encouraging to me the entire time. You have restored my faith, and touched my heart. I am forever grateful for the Adirondacks and the healing it has brought to my life.