One snowy weekend in March, students from the Saint Francis Physical Therapy program joined the Inclined Plane Trails capture team on Yoder Hill to experience both new trail building as well as existing trail maintenance. Jacob Lamm, Adam Valvo, Mason Wong, Isaac Lewis, and Austin Andreyo got their hands dirty swinging a number of trail building tools in some pretty chaotic weather over the two days.
“When we have volunteer groups out here for more than one day, I like to mix up what they are exposed to, so the experience is more exciting.” Said Mike Cook, the coordinator for the trails project. “On Saturday we focused on new trail building over on the Millcreek Road property that was sub-divided and donated by the Flower Barn folks. They saw a little bit of everything from brush cutting and trail corridor clearing, to bench cutting with hand tools to create the new trail surface. On Sunday, we moved over on the hillside to the Edgehill Dr. trail head. From there, we widened the first chunk of Morley’s. Over time, the hillside creeps out onto the trail surface. These guys cut the trail back and improved the trail surface in several places.”
When asked about the trail work, SFU student Adam Valvo said, “It is hard work but when you are doing it with a group of people that you enjoy being around it makes the process fun.”
Isaac Lewis had a similar outlook. “I think that this process can be particularly challenging. Some of the challenges include the terrain, weather, and the overall amount of time required to build a new trail or maintain an old one. The process is definitely a lot of work, but it is rewarding seeing the progress that you can make in a short amount of time if you have multiple people working together.”
“Volunteerism really drove the creation and the continued maintenance of the trails. Without it, this project never would have happened. This group absolutely killed it. They did such a great job” added Cook.
“I believe that volunteering in the community is important because it gives us students a chance to provide for a greater cause. Being from Hawai’i, it gives me a chance to give back to a community other than my own. Not only do we get to strengthen our relationships with each other, but we can create new connections with people within the community.”, said SFU student Mason Wong
When asked his thoughts on the overall experience, Isaac Lewis of St. Francis had this to say. “I really enjoyed this experience. I grew up loving the outdoors and being in nature, so I thought this was a particularly fun experience. The work was pretty strenuous but looking back and seeing the progress made it worth it. This would be a great experience for anyone who wants to get out and enjoy nature but doesn’t mind doing some hard work, getting dirty, and having fun at the same time.”
Austin Andreyo added, “Overall, I had a great time this past weekend. It was nice waking up early and working outside with the group. It was also very rewarding to see all of our progress! “
Even though the Inclined Plane is closed for upgrades and repairs until 2023, work on the trails will continue through 2022.