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Summertime and the livin’s easy

Ashley

ASHLEY

Major: Psychology
Hometown: Denver, CO

Year: Junior

When you think of summer, what are some things that pop into your head? Sunshine? Tanning? Hanging with friends? What about not showering for 10 days at a time? Living outside? Or even the forearm muscles of a champion? If you spend a summer doing trail work, option B will comprise your summer much more accurately.

The summer after my freshman year of college, I decided that I wanted to do something different, something that would put me out of my comfort zone. I worked for the Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) and blazed trails throughout the Southwest area.

What does a summer at SCC look like? To give you the stats, six groups of about nine people go out into the woods for 10 days at a time, with four days off between each 10-day hitch. This goes on for about three months.

Now think about this: spending 10 days at a time, 24/7 with the same eight other hungry and exhausted people. Could you do it? But then, think about this: deep conversations, devoted friendships and an overall feeling of immense accomplishment. Now could you do it?

That summer working for SCC was hard and grueling at times, but exhibiting so much physical energy alongside others who were doing the same hard work and whom I admired so much was exhilarating. These people I was in such close contact with all summer became some of the most influential people in my life. Within one week, we became inseparable. We did not leave each other’s side for three months. We couldn’t bear to.

It was the most exciting connection I have ever made with a group of human beings. And I must say, this sort of bond is, indeed, a woods-bond. The only bond that can be made with people who eat, sleep, work and play together; the only bond that is made by watching every single sunrise and sunset together; the bond that can only be made when no one has showered in over a week and deodorant no longer helps.

We griped and moaned about the hard work, but at the end of the day, we praised one another for the great work we had done and how good our muscles looked. I felt like I was living in paradise. I felt like I was truly the person I hoped I would always be. I felt like something was awakened inside of me. And all it took was a little dirt and hard work.

I am still in close contact with my friends from the summer and still find myself drawn to the trail crew world. The job was perfect for a young college kid trying to make some money, have a good time, and learn a lot. Being on a trail crew gives you a confidence that is different than simply hiking a mountain, because you are creating the path to get there. There was never an easy day but there was never a day I wished I were somewhere else.

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