Whenever somebody asks me how my summer was, my answer always starts with, “An adventure.” How can I trim down all the amazing places, experiences, and people I met to just one short answer? Writing this was a challenge, and deciding which memories to include was so difficult.
This summer was my first summer away from home. I grew up in the Adirondacks, so the idea of being in the woods for 10 weeks was not too daunting. I was sad about not being surrounded by my small town community. Little did I know what a wonderful community the Northern Forest Canoe Trail was about to welcome me into.
The first community I found was that of our crew. Ethan Israel, Jonah Yaffe and I spent 10 weeks together living out of tents and a truck — how could we not become close? After our field coordinator, Will, left due to a family emergency, the three of us became a cohesive team, using our combined strengths to fill his role and teach each other along the way. Together we changed flat tires, foraged for berries, and survived countless rainstorms. While it was sad to see Will go, it allowed us to spend more time with Noah, the NFCT’s stewardship director. Noah taught us how to balance hard work and hard play, welcomed us into his home, and even showed us where some of the best blueberry picking in all of Maine was!
Spending each week in a different location gave us the opportunity to become part of a community not based on location, but on a shared love of paddling, the outdoors and giving back to the trail. Everywhere we went we encountered generous locals willing to feed and house us without a second thought — even though we were complete strangers! The volunteers that joined us each weekend were full of passion, stories and wisdom. They inspired us to keep working, even when we were exhausted after weeks of labor, shared experiences around the campfire, and came to our rescue — like when our stove caught on fire!
When I began the summer, I was barely able to use a drill, and 10 weeks later I had successfully built privies, stairs, bridges, benches and more all over the Northeast. I learned how to paddle class-III rapids (and how not to), that I actually can cook, and how to back up a trailer. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without the amazing NFCT community, for whom I will forever be thankful.
Home is where the tent is!