For Native Americans, canoes were not only utilized for transportation and trade but also symbolized a sense of community and a way of gathering. Likewise, the Northern Forest Canoe Trail isn’t just a paddling route but is a community dedicated to preserving the history and beauty of these historic waterways.
When I first learned about the NFCT internship program, I saw it as an opportunity to become part of something much greater than myself. I was excited about a summer job that combined everything from carpentry to paddling. Being able to venture into the woods for 10 weeks and travel around the Northeast seemed like a vacation, not a job. Indeed, working on the canoe trail has been one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences I have ever had.
The success of the summer 2023 season would not have been possible without my fantastic co-workers Kate Wimberly and Jonah Yaffe. Our small but mighty crew was able to overcome every obstacle and rise to every challenge that was thrown our way. These achievements were made possible by our amazing volunteers, who worked their butts off on tasks like hauling 250-pound stones up the side of a cliff, getting down and dirty in privies, and demolishing docks that could sink a pontoon boat. Dealing with inclement weather, ferocious racoons, and hauling boatloads of gear tested the best of us at times.
One of my greatest memories from the summer was cooking dinner for a group of 12 people during a thunderstorm. The wind took half of our dinner into the dirt, and everything seemed to get soaked, including myself. Our volunteers huddled under the tent as we served them what was left of the meal. Despite the circumstances, we exchanged stories, played music and had a great evening.
The beauty of watching the sun set over the Adirondack Mountains, hearing the noise of flowing water as you lay in your tent, and eating cobbler with fresh picked blueberries goes unmatched to the beauty of the NFCT community. I hope to get back on the trail and relive these special moments as much as possible. This internship was much more than a job, it was an opportunity to give back, form lifelong relationships, and ultimately grow as an individual.