As I sit here in the 95 degree-heat, 90 percent humidity that is Maryland now that my Northern Forest Canoe Trail summer internship is over, I find myself daydreaming about being on the river again. How do I describe spending my summer along the trail? The people I got the work with? The places I got to experience and see? All of the things that pushed me out of my comfort zone? As I describe these things to my friends and family back home, I have realized that out of everything we experienced this summer, it is the waters of the Northern Forest that will most stay with me
My favorite part of the summer had to be getting to be on the water every day. From Lake Willoughby, to the Moose River, to an amazing little spot in Montgomery Center, Vermont – I got to swim in some of the most beautiful waters this summer. They rejuvenated me after a long day’s work and also acted as my only form of shower for the first five weeks. We even made sure to spend our time in and along rivers on the weekends, washing off the layers of dirt built up from the previous week. We strengthened our friendships while discussing the books we were reading, places we had been, and dreams we had recently had. The rivers connected Lauren, Eliot, Sam, and me like they connect different communities in the northeast.
The rivers allowed me to really see why we were doing the work we were doing. As you paddle down Maine’s Moose River you can imagine how Native Americans once used it for travel. As you go down the Mississquoi River in Vermont, you can picture how timber was once transported down it, bringing life to the little towns along its banks. These waters are sacred places holding so much history and life within their river beds. Keeping them healthy while allowing more people safe access to them is so important for all ecosystems in the northeast, and I’m proud to have been able to do my part.
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail reminded me that there is still wildness out in our country, and most importantly that this land is not just mine. I share it with the coyotes that we would sometimes hear at night, the loons that circled me while I swam in Attean Pond, and the ferns that have rooted themselves along the river’s edge. We must also keep these waters healthy and alive for them.
As I lie down at night – now back in a bed – missing the sound of water tumbling over smooth river rocks lulling me to sleep, I wish that my friends and family could go out and experience the NFCT for themselves. I wish that everyone could experience it. My description does not do it justice, they must see it for themselves. Working on the NFCT for ten weeks gave me more appreciation for river systems than I could have ever imagined. I can’t wait to get back up there to witness more of its beauty!