My goal was to continue laying out a mountain bike trail on Oak Hill that we started last year. What I didn’t expect was that I could convince a whole crew to join me for a day of trail building over the weekend. With the help of John Collier at the helm of the excavator, and by splitting up the group to focus on one turn at a time, we were able to finish a baseline for the entire trail. No doubt, we are going to need to do some polishing in the spring once the trail has hardened, but the whole day was a messy, exhausting, satisfying trailwork day. Can’t wait to ride it!
This fall’s leaf colors are the best that I have seen in a long time. Today, I paddled on Goose Pond with Peter, a good friend from Dartmouth’s woodshop. Paddling around the pond in a kayak, one of the first days of exercise in a long time was amazing. Getting a tour of the geography of the surrounding area, listening to the loons, and eating a hearty lunch of brats and sauerkraut with an awesome couple was inspiring.
The other night Dartmouth’s new president, Philip Hanlon, had the opportunity to have a dinner with members of the Dartmouth Outing Clup. Staying true to our tradition of a student run operation, two members made the dinner, and 15 DOC leaders were invited to Harris Cabin (one of the DOC’s 10 cabins) to welcome the President and his wife. The food and conversation were great, and it was really nice to talk to President Hanlon in an informal setting.
I asked him mostly education questions at the beginning of the dinner – where he thought that online college platforms were going to bring education, how he ended up going from a math major to the President of a college, and other general questions. His answers were really insightful, as were other comments from everyone else. The amazing thing was that it didn’t feel like dinner with the president. It felt more like a dinner with friends.
After dinner, a few leaders shared some lessons learned from their experience in the DOC. What tied them all together was that the DOC has created a platform where students learn real life leadership. There is real risk, reward, and people depending on you. If you are in chess club and you forget the playing pieces for a meeting it can be awkward, but if you are going on a winter hiking trip and you forget the crampons, you could be putting people at risk for injury. This combined with the personal commitment that students have in the club and the tradition of upperclassmen paying it forward to underclassmen, was powerful to reflect on. I always took it for granted that our level of leadership was normal for a college experience, but apparently it isn’t typical for outing clubs to be completely student organized and guided.
At the end of the dinner, before we all headed home, President Hanlon shared a few words about the DOC. He compared Dartmouth with the human body in 50 years. As part wear out, we will be at the point where we can just replace them. Once everything is replaced, what is left? In the same way every 4 years, the student body turns over, every 6 a building turns over, every 20 the faculty, so what is left?
Hanlon said that it was the context – the surroundings – the snow and fall leaves, the bike trails and rivers – New England. In this way he said that the DOC is the closest thing to the true essence of Dartmouth. It is an organization centered on helping students get to understand this amazing place that for four years we get to call home.
At the end of this summer, I had the amazing experience of showing my second home, Hanover, NH to Wolverine as part of their Guardian Project. I was really excited to show them my favorite trails and hangouts near school, but I needed to think about the ‘guardian’ part of myself. According to the Wolverine Guardian site, guardians are shepherds and stewards, creating, maintaining, repairing, educating, and guiding so that others can continue to explore and enjoy.
I have never considered what I do as guardianing, but just trying to get more people outdoors having fun. My feelings toward bringing new people into the outdoors is that if we cut a 2’ wide trail through the forest and get people on it, those people will want to protect the scenery surrounding the trail.
And the best part? Enjoying the outdoors is always a fun time.
so one could do many laps, and fun for beginner riders as well as experienced riders. The only catch was that the design I had in mind needed a mini excavator and a qualified operator. This project stood at a standstill for most of fall, until I had an idea – recruit an alum with enough experience to satisfy risk management. I did so, and in one day we took in tampers, shovels and an excavator and turned a stretch of Oak Hill woods into a sequence of burmed turns and jumps — yeehaw!