By Matthew Wilson
Making the 180 degree shift from the bustling, loud streets surrounding the city of New Haven, Connecticut to the serene and peaceful rush that comes from sleeping beside a creek, one could imagine my pure joy of being apart of this wonderful organization. The Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation has not only given me an opportunity expand my knowledge and exposure to further pursue a career with the USFS, but it has given me the opportunity to find out what I ought to be doing with my limited time on this Earth. Knowing that I am enduring long hours stewarding wilderness trails so that others may enjoy them makes me fulfilled to the utmost extent (even if those that explore the Bob at their leisure may not take into account the arduous work that goes into maintaining the wilderness). There is nothing more relieving/revitalizing than that first shower coming out of the woods because I know that I have worked hard so that others can share the same life changing experiences that I have within the wilderness. Lets just say in layman’s terms, that I am grateful to be a part of something bigger than myself.
I’ve learned to be quite grateful for being given the opportunity and exposure to pack mules and ride horseback into the wilderness. Not only is this far less of a burden on the backs of the wilderness trail crew, but it’s an experience that not a lot of people can share. Packing and outfitting is not a common skill to most, which makes it all the more engaging that I get to learn some tricks of the trade. It took me a bit, but I finally got to understand how to properly tie up a mantee around a pack box, how to saddle up a mule and a horse (believe it or not there is a big difference), and most importantly how to ride horseback. With the help of all the trails crew staff at Lincoln Ranger District I am becoming ever so comfortable with the stock. Its very difficult to describe, but the mannerisms and demeanor to which you handle stock have fully shifted into my normal way of interaction with colleagues and strangers alike. There is a certain degree of compassion mixed with respect that you must show the animals. You have EARN the animals respect, much like any adult interaction. I find this to be the most interesting aspect to working with the stock because its certainly something that I didn’t expect going into the stock training, but after working with the animals I am happy to say that they have inadvertently helped me take control over my own emotions and increased my individualization.