Preparing for the NFCT 2012 Field Season

By Walter Opuszynski

This past week was our first Waterway Work Trip of the season at Raquette Falls in the beautiful Adirondacks of New York (we’ll highlight this project in our next post from the field). But before we strike out on the trail to perform projects, there is much that happens to prepare.

NFCT’s 2012 Interns

The Stewardship Intern Crews receive three weeks of training.  Our field season accomplishes a great deal of work along the 740 miles of trail, but at the same time we also focus on giving our interns the opportunity to develop as leaders and practice skills that they will carry with them into the next phases of their lives.

A generous community came together to share knowledge, get outdoors, and take part of something unique. A huge thanks to Rebecca Pfeiffer and Julie Foley from the VT DEC, Tim Hille, Rob Scharges, Bethany Sargent, Misha Cetner, the fine folks at the Missiquoi Wildlife Refuge, Joey from Joey’s Junction, the town of Highgate Center…oh, the list goes on!

Our first week was spent at a special location along the Highgate Falls Portage.  We focused on leadership skills, paddling skills, group dynamics, and identifying each other’s strengths.  The nights were filled with fire flies, and the days with nice weather.  Of course, as typical with most training weeks that we have at Highgate Falls, our brake lines blew on the crew vehicle.  Always good to get the bugs worked out early.

A big crowd pleaser for the first week of training, and always one of the most photogenic parts of our training, is the flat and fast water paddle trainings on the Missisquoi River.  This year Audrey Burns (2012 Stewardship Intern) facilitated the flat water training and Rob Scharges of Vermont Canoe covered the fast water skills.

Katelyn loving every minute of portaging (Really?!).
Rob Scharges shows the group the in’s and out’s of the paddle (notice “Tony” our new crew truck in the background)
No training would be complete without a “T-Rescue”…..
…..or yarding someone in with a throw-rope……
…or taking a plunge.


It was a great time having the gang together for the first week.  The second week, our Youth Program Interns started planning their trips and the Stewardship Interns entered an intense two weeks of training in trail design, layout, maintenance, and trail structure (rock and lumber).  Our efforts were focused on the LaDuke property between Saranac Lake and Bloomingdale, NY where we are striving to meet the vision that the landowner has for a “NFCT Members Only” campsite.

Renzo gets ready to drive a Timber Lag home.

Looks like we’re ready to hit the Trail, hope to see you out there.  We still have spots open on some of the Waterway Work Trips. Come join the fun!