I’m something of a news junkie. Not at any type of obsessive level, and certainly not to the point of watching any sort of 24-hour news channel or anything like that, but I do like to keep myself informed of what’s going on in the world. It’s important, I think, to have some perspective and knowledge of what’s going on out there, some idea of all the complex interactions that happen on this little ball of rock we all share.
Don’t worry. I’ll be sparing you my diatribe about how pathetic U.S. news coverage of the rest of the globe is.
Anyway, by the end of last week, it seemed that I was reading a lot of headlines that just had me shaking my head. Lots of examples where I just felt a little let down and disappointed in the rest of humanity for failing to be, well, decent to one another. I don’t blog about things like world events and politics as a rule (I’m not very interested in the flame wars that tend to occur on the internet), but those of you who’ve met me in-person know that I can and will discuss them at length.
So, short story: I felt down by the time I reached Friday.
Luckily I’d signed up at the last minute for a volunteer project up at a little park called Hidden Falls Regional Park. It seems the park is expanding from its current 220 acres to a full 1,200 acres, with the expansion set to open in May. Between now and then trails and service roads are being built, viewing platforms constructed, and trail signage put in place.
So it was that at 9:00 on Saturday morning I stood in the Sierra foothills, warming myself in the morning sun, getting a short safety briefing about tics and poison oak before being dispatched through locked gates into the new sections of the park. The next five hours were spent with shovels and digging bars and pulaskis, carving out a couple of hundred feet of spur trail leading up to a viewing platform over a canyon. At one point, I ended up with a pair of lopping shears in my hand, doing something that I would ordinarily never find myself doing in the wilderness: cutting off several branches of tree and bush to clear the way for the trail. Later on I would find myself helping to build a set of stairs out of stone, before finishing the day hauling rocks to shore up a section of newly built trail.
The weather was perfect, the soil easily turned from recent rains, and they gave us pizza for lunch. I even got a free t-shirt. (I don’t always take the t-shirts at volunteer events, because I usually think the money is better kept within whatever non-profit is sponsoring, but this was from REI and really, really nice, so I couldn’t resist.)
At home that night, I was tired and sore in a good way, so much so that I couldn’t even think quite straight.
But seeing 75 people show up on an early Saturday morning to volunteer their labor and time to help build new trails? Yeah, I felt a little better about humanity that night.
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(Sorry for there being no pictures. Took a few with my cell phone, or thought I did, but none of the files were saved. If I find any online, I’ll add them to this post later.)