Most Randonnée Aventure hiking trails exist because of volunteer trail work. Government cutbacks over many years have transferred much of the work from paid staff to volunteers. Randonnée Aventure is proud to be an active player, participating in trail maintenance since the late 1980’s in Quebec, Vermont and New York.
Our current involvement is in New York, where each September the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Trails Coordinator (at the Adirondak Loj) works with RA volunteers on a weekend trail improvement project. Each project is different, and always rewarding. We repair, clear and reroute trails, build bog bridges, etc. The work can be hard and tiring, yet consistently includes tasks to suit everyone. We go prepared for all kinds of weather. Space is limited (8), yet in addition to faithful regulars, we always welcome and make room for new faces.
How does this work?
Meal planning and shared grocery shopping is done before leaving. The real fun starts late Friday afternoon with a carpool to the Adirondacks, and a restaurant stop for dinner. On arrival at the High Peaks crew cabin near Lake Placid, we unload groceries, unwind in the living room, and settle into our bunk rooms (4 volunteers per room) for the first of two nights. The cabin is rustic but provides indoor toilets, hot showers and a full kitchen.
On Saturday, the Trails Coordinator joins us for the day, meeting promptly after breakfast to outline the plan and equip us with tools for our project. Then we are off with gear and packed lunches for the day’s work. Mealtimes, especially dinners, are great fun with all contributing in the preparation and lively chat about the day’s events. Sunday is another full work day. Hot showers and snacks precede our journey home. Transportation and food costs are shared by all, as is camaraderie, which is never lacking.
Volunteers bring passports for the border, full hiking gear (see the Day Hiker’s Checklist), sturdy work gloves, clothing suitable for the weather, sleeping bags, pillows and their agreed food contribution. Volunteers return satisfied, with stories, new skills and most importantly pride, having given back to the trails we regularly use, which would otherwise become quickly overgrown and unusable.
As with any trip outside Quebec, having health insurance coverage (in this case for the US), is absolutely necessary.
Check the hiking calendar for dates. For more information, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org, indicating “Trail Maintenance” in the subject line.