When I applied to be a waterway steward for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, I did not fully know what I was expecting. I had never worked on a roving crew before, and definitely have never lived in a tent for 10 weeks. I can truly say that whatever expectations I had about what the summer would bring were exceeded way more than I could ever have hoped. This summer has allowed me to live in the most gorgeous locations, meet the most wholesome and welcoming individuals, and complete the most rewarding projects.
As I lay in my bed in New Jersey and write this blog, about two weeks after the internship came to a close, I am thinking about how unusual beds are — nothing will ever come close to the feeling of sleeping in a cozy sleeping bag all summer while staring up at a dark sky full of bright stars. I believe that I was able to comfortably get through the summer thanks to the people that I worked with. Our team, including Liam, Kyle, Will and Noah, are no doubt family to me now. Each one of us had individual skills that we were able to bring to the table. These skills allowed our summer to run smoothly, successfully and brilliantly.
Liam had a set of skills that were essential for our daily travels. He was a master at reading road maps and directing us down long dirt roads. We could have ventured miles astray, but of course we never did due to Liam’s expertise. Kyle had a sense of humor like nobody else and could always find ways to make us laugh. Even on days when we would be working in a nonstop downpour, he could crack a joke and keep us motivated to finish the project. Will had amazing carpentry skills and taught us about each tool and cut, rather than just take over and do it himself. He also worked as a head chef for most of his life, which meant we weren’t just eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day. Lastly, Noah kept everyone on their toes about what adventure would be next. He was able to find time in his busy life to bring us on excursions such as whitewater rafting on the Kennebec River in Maine on one of his days off!
Ever since leaving Waitsfield, I have thought about our “family” every single day. I will always appreciate the time we spent together, from digging impressively large privy holes on Valcour Island, paddling through massive rapids in our open canoes in Errol, hiking Gulf Hagas and swimming under Buttermilk Falls, to even just washing dishes together after dinner using the highly rated three-bin system. We truly spent every second together, and even if we had to because we all shared one truck and one loft, I would not have changed anything for the world.
I can happily say that as we move on, we will never lose touch and one day we will come back to our roots by paddling the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, together, from Old Forge to Fort Kent.