For the last several years CORE has sponsored a volunteering opportunity with the Green Ridge State Forest. Last fall outgoing CORE President Larry Pope requested that the board let him “take” the event for him to host it as a MAFWDA event (Larry is also the current President of MAFWDA) in an effort to make this a good event for all of MAFWDA’s clubs to participate on together. The board was happy to say yes to the request with hope that it could foster more mingling among the clubs as well as it being a good volunteering option for all to join together on for various reasons. A week out it looked like Larry had gotten a mixed group to come together but several last minute changes including a medical issue meant the group shrank at the last moment. Along for the volunteering this year were the following.
Our task for the day, plant 25 apple trees. Well we got right to it
- Larry Pope (MAFWDA Member) – Blue Chevy Silverado
- Andrew and Cherie Taylor (CORE/MAFWDA Members) – Silver Nissan Xterra
- Mike Vincenty and Donna Edwards (MAFWDA Members) – White Rubicon TJ (Volunteering Only)
For the entire week leading up to the volunteering camping weekend it rained. Cherie and I knew to expect it to be muddy, but boy were the roads sloppy on the way into the forest that Friday night! Cherie and I arrived around 11pm, as we have a reputation for doing, to find only Larry sitting at the campsite. Apparently the other person who was still planning on being there could not make it meaning that Larry had been the only one on the site since his arrival at noon. After saying our hello’s and catching up a bit Cherie and I quickly set up camp. We talked a little longer and then decided to turn in for the night.
We all awoke to a beautiful cool morning. As we finished breakfast Dennis Yoder and Jim Halbertstadt arrived to lead our volunteering project. A few moments later Mike and Donna arrived. While talking before heading out for the morning we learned that a new overlook had opened in the northeast corner of the State Forest. Unfortunately we also learned that the rutted out section of Carroll Road we would be traveling on our way to the volunteering spot (a washed out road just south of Group Site 6) was to be “repaired” in the spring. It was sad news as this along with Twigg Road are the only two spots in the State Forest that offer an even somewhat interesting driving experience for those that are interested in off-roading. During the CORE Snow Run we had run back over this hill 3 times just because it was something that we could flex out a little on if we chose to! But I digress.
We headed out to our volunteering spot for the day, just northeast of Bond’s Landing. We went through the normally closed gate to find a mostly empty field. On one part not far from the area of planting was an old home foundation. This would turn our volunteering into a little bit of an archeological dig because during the planting Larry found a large rusted metal spike, and the rest of us at one point or another found ourselves trying to dig through an old brick foundation or walkway of some sort that was only a few inches underground! Our task for the day, plant 25 apple trees. Well we got right to it, planting the apple trees first, then putting mulch around the bases, stakes and fence up to protect them from deer, and tree tubes around the bases. We apparently worked quicker than expected because even with a smaller than expected group we found ourselves done around noon in front of an astonished Dennis and Jim.
We parted ways with Mike and Donna as well as Dennis and Jim as we left the field. Cherie and I followed Larry back to our campsite where we all broke out the lunch stuff and enjoyed a good meal. It always seems like the lunch in GRSF immediately after volunteering tastes so good! Anyways, we decided that after lunch we’d go and checkout the newest overlook in the forest that had just opened last year.
After lunch we took the scenic route up to the new F.O. Zumbrun Overlook at the northeast corner of the forest. It’s a nice new overlook only a short walk from the parking area. It offers a great view to the west. Afterwards, again via the scenic route, we stopped by the gas station to get some more firewood and snacks. Cherie and I were exhausted and we loaded up on chocolate and coffee drinks. Well, despite the caffeine, by the time we got back to camp 30 minutes later, we had decided we both needed a nap!
About 2 hours later we arose from our slumber. I don’t nap often, but when I do it tells me I am really exhausted. Well, let me just say that a 2 hour nap in the woods is a spectacular way to do a nap, I highly recommend it! A little while later we broke out the dinner supplies, had great camp food, and shortly after Larry went to bed. He noted something about he didn’t take a nap in the middle of the day or something!
Sunday morning we took our time breaking camp, and weren’t ready to leave until approximately noon! We discussed the history of the forest more with Larry who it turns out is a bit of a history buff on this particular forest! Among other things we discussed the history of the chimney right next to group site 6 which is apparently from an old steam powered lumber mill from way back in the day. Also interesting, the old road that leads west from group site 6 used to be the only road going west from this area. Now it is overgrown and would be impassable by 4×4, which is unfortunate because a short walk down the path gets you to some interesting (and seemingly unexplored) terrain. As we all parted from the campsite Cherie and I discussed how we need to come back and plan to spend more time just out and about as GRSF is kind of a great place to get away!
Trail report written by Andrew Taylor. Pictures courtesy of Cherie Taylor.