AmeriCorps 2020: July 14

This post continues the account of my 2020 AmeriCorps term in Boulder, Colorado, through American Conservation Experience (ACE). The other entries in this series are located here.

The Boulder Flatirons.
A shot of the famous Flatirons in Boulder, which we were rarely far from on workdays. Skies Above Boulder by Jonathan Reyes. CC BY-NC 2.0

Our second ‘real’ workday with ACE/AmeriCorps was one of our most memorable, due to an unexpected twist at the end.

On July 14, my AmeriCorps crew and I returned to the same trail network that we’d worked on the previous three days. We hiked in on the Mesa Trail, laden with tools as usual, and then turned right on the Bluebell Trail. This would be our worksite for the day.

Our objective was to walk the Bluebell Trail and repair any damage that we found, which often took the form of drains that needed to be widened and deepened.

The lower levels of the Bluebell Trail were entirely open to the sun. There was thick brush on either side of us, but few trees large enough to provide any shade. This began to change as we worked our way along the trail.

Our crew split into segments, usually pairs, when we began working. One pair would tackle a problem spot, finish it, and then “bump up” to an area further along the trail.

We spent the morning leap-frogging up the Bluebell Trail in this fashion. As we did so, the trail climbed in elevation, and the ecosystem changed around us; coniferous trees became more frequent, until eventually we were in a forest.

This forest felt like paradise. We were cloaked in shade for the first time in days, giving us a break from the relentless sun.

We continued to work our way up the Bluebell Trail, greatly appreciating the shade, until we reached a spot where the path leveled slightly.

I took off my pack, began working, and then a thunderstorm appeared out of nowhere. The rain wasn’t heavy, but the lightning was right on top of us, so we had to leave immediately.

We hiked down the trail as quickly as we could. Most of us didn’t put on our rain gear, because the cool rain felt fantastic.

After about 20 minutes of rushed hiking, the storm vanished as quickly as it had arrived. By this time, however, our workday was done, so we returned to our van and drove home.

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