Step Into Their Stories...
Time to Resupply the Trail Magic
by Jen Adams, Director of Outdoor Programs
Resupplying our backcountry expeditions is most definitely my favorite summer work task.
The process begins when I open the door to Packout, our on-campus trip coordination hub, and I’m hit by the smells of garlic powder, cheddar cheese, plastic bags, white gas, and humans working in the hot sun. Adventure is afoot, and excitement bubbles. On big resupply days, everything is magnified as folks work double-time fulfilling detailed lists of food, personal items, mail, gear, and more, which sometimes requires superhuman scavenger-hunting skills. I’m proud of the lengths my team goes to ensure trip leaders and campers receive every necessity.
The real adventure begins once all of the coolers, boxes, bins, buckets, and mailbags make it into the truck. The drives are long and often on dusty dirt roads. After several hours, I’ll round a corner and find a group huddled at a trailhead, bridge crossing, or campsite waiting patiently. They perk up at the crunch of tires on gravel, and the chatter begins before I even open my door. Their last few days on the trail have been an incredible saga, and they can’t wait to tell me every detail. Overlapping stories are thrown my way as campers clamor for verbal air space. And did I bring their letter, piece of equipment, or other special item? They begin digging into the pile of packs and containers. I smile, laugh, and reassure, taking it all in. I know my cameo will soon become another epic chapter in their backcountry adventure (especially when they find the surprise selection of treats hidden amongst the dried beans, letters, and carrot sticks).
Campers also leave an indelible mark on me, filling my heart with pride and often making their way into my own trail stories. Like Matt, a boy with a very large backpack on this summer’s Maine Appalachian Trail expedition. Resupplies are an opportunity for campers to shed items they’ve decided they’d rather not carry, such as a finished book or stick of deodorant. Still, despite much hemming, hawing, and gentle guidance from trip leaders, Matt was reluctant to part with a single item. So, with my deliveries, pickups, and information exchange complete, I headed back to my vehicle a mile from the group’s remote campsite. A few minutes down the trail, I heard a commotion and turned around to see Matt running to catch up with his massive backpack in tow. He pulled out three paperback books, full-size binoculars, an oversized winter jacket, and a pair of jeans. I was flabbergasted that all these items fit in his pack! I received, bagged, and labeled his belongings, and he rambled back to his group much lighter and happier – an important lesson learned.
Each expedition is its own epic narrative, and resupplies are unique, almost sacred opportunities to be part of a group’s journey, if only for a day. I know the trip depends on these touch points, and I take my responsibility to get them food and supplies seriously. And greeting campers amongst New England’s remote outposts and waterways renews my trail-seasoned spirit too.