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Journey Into The Whites: Rovers return to work the great White Mountains

August 14-24 - The cars began to pull into the field at around 2pm. Right off the Kancamagus Highway in Conway, New Hampshire, Jolly Rover crew members from NY, NJ, PA and CT assembled to meet with their NH brothers and sisters for their 3rd annual long distance trip up north. Vehicle after vehicle was unloaded; the kitchen shelters were erected, coolers organized, firewood gathered, showers set up, tents pitched, privy dug, camp duties assigned and within a few hours... Camp Rover was fully operational.

"You guys are like a roaming village!" One Forest Service employee joked upon entering the camp, and after a quick tour, we got to reviewing the upcoming weeks work plan while the rest of the crew continued to settle in to what would be their home for the next 10 days.

Last year marked the Rovers first trip into the White Mountains at the request of the United States Forest Service's, Saco Ranger District. With the success of last years trip, where a section of the Champney Falls loop trail was improved with 26 stone steps and 30 feet of stone wall, the Forest Service invited the Rovers to return for a second stint in the Whites this year to continue their work on the highly trafficked trail. A total of 30 Rovers made the trip over two extended work weekends from August 14-24.

Once there, crew members proceeded

with the harvesting of the native rock surrounding the worksite. Strangely enough, a mere 100 feet beyond the site we worked at last year (where the granite split so beautifully), this site proved quite the opposite as far as the granite's agreeability to being split and shaped. More exposed and weathered than the quarry located in the prior year, the rock provided no shortage of surprises in the form of internal fissures that would reveal themselves well into the shaping process.

Not dissuaded, the crew continued forward, quarrying and moving stone to where it would finally be installed on the trail. Once the rock was transported, things went smoothly as several series of 3-4 step staircases with stone paved landings emerged from the eroded trench that was the trail. By the end of the second weekend, a total of 22 stone steps were installed along with 3 stone paved landings to accommodate seasonal water flow across the path.

Back at Camp Rover, each evening the crew would gather together for dinner accompanied by campfire merriment and song. Special mention should be given to crew member Bob Chapel and his incredible 4 hour long acoustic performance of 1950's Rock, Rhythm and Blues songs with interludes of TV theme songs ranging from "Green Acres" to his incredible encore performance of "Super Chicken." The riotous night of song was one of the many memorable events of the trip, to grasp them all however...I guess you had to be there.

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