More Trail Maintenance in “The Bob”

Something one needs to do well during this internship is have a “go with the flow” type of attitude. On my third trip into The Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, I was surprised to find out at the trail head that two trips had been combined because of lack of volunteers. So instead of a small weeds trip including Marchand, another intern named Danny, five other volunteers and myself, this trip doubled in size. After an incredible drive just south of Glacier National Park to the Summit Trail head, the two crew leaders and I did the usual safety discussion which includes hiking in bear country, staying hydrated, and hiking with stock animals on the trail. After the safety talk and introductions were over with, we hit the trail. It was a 13 mile hike in to the Badger Cabin where we would be staying for a the duration of the trip. Unfortunately, our stock packer only had five mules with him so everyone had to carry most of their personal gear. Since I usually try to help carry pieces of gear for the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation such as the first aid kit, a couple saws, and other small items, my pack was around 55 pounds (about 20 pounds more than I have been carrying this summer). The group started at 9:30 a.m. and did not arrive to the cabin until around 5:30 p.m. Whenever you hike with a large group of people, the hike can take a bit longer. This trail was especially difficult because we had more than eight river or creek crossings. So every time we came to one it would take about 15 minutes to take off the boots, put on the river crossing shoes, put your hiking boots back on, and start hiking again.

This cabin was well worth the trouble to hike to. It was located on badger creek, and had a large amount of land available for the horses and mules to graze. Similar to the North Fork Cabin I stayed at, it included a nice kitchen set with counters and a nice table. It also included two bunk beds that I resisted sleeping in telling myself, “You did not drive all the ways from Massachusetts to sleep in a cabin and not underneath a full moon and sky full of stars.”

I was happy to hear that on this trip instead of spraying a noxious weed called toad for three days which seemed to be all over the property, I would be helping the east side crew leader Megan teaching and partaking in trail maintenance. On our first workday, we went to our first assignment and did a lot of hiking before we came to our first log to cut. With so few logs down on the trail, we ended up fixing a lot of drainage areas for the trail. After lunch, we continued up along a long ridge until we found a couple huge patches of snow! It was an incredible location with a view way out into Glacier National Park. It was a scorching hot day at around 90 degrees and no one could resist from making a few snow angels and throwing a few snowballs.

Day two consisted of another long hike; only we were surprised when we saw that the creek we were relying on for water was completely dry. Luckily on this trip, our packer Keith had stayed with us the whole weeks and helped carry our tools. He would go ahead of us and scout the trail. We kept hiking up a mountain called Half Dome Crag for one last log but it was another hot day and by far the longest hike we had to do for work. We cut the last log on the trail and turned around for the cabin and would not be back till around 6 p.m.

It can be very difficult hiking in “The Bob” sometimes because of how many other unmarked games and cow trails. These are trails not registered though the forest service but are used by hunters and are also made by large amounts of cattle that roam through the land. On our third and final workday, we lost our focus and ended up on the wrong trail. It took a few hours to get to our work site and there was not much there anyways, so we built a few trail markers called Cairns. Cairns are rock piles intentionally built to hikers do not go astray. After we made the trail more obvious to hikers, we headed back a little early tired from the day before.

All around it was a great trip because it exposed me to a number of skills outdoor leaders need such as patience and decision-making. It was clear we did our jobs well as educators, when one of the teenage volunteers on the trip was showing how badly she did not want to leave with her parents at the trail head. Volunteers for the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation, come out on these trips to give back, relax, and have an enjoyable time in this incredible wilderness area. After approximately 60 miles hiked, 30 trees cut, and many water bars cleared, we left with a sense of accomplishment over those five days.

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Having a Devilishly Good Time

Man, the summer is half way over and I am just getting a chance to sit down and put some words down for my first post, even though I am still currently working, all day, on a Saturday. But hey, I seriously love what I am doing here at the Prudential Center.

A quick introduction:  My name is Andrew Ptacek and I am a senior (sigh) studying sport management at the Birthplace. I am from a small town on the south shore of Long Island called Bayport. I currently am completing my internship with the company Devils Arena Entertainment, who owns the building, the Prudential Center, and also the New Jersey Devils. I am working in the Operations Department, which is compiled into event management and guest services.

This summer we had a plethora of events of different shapes and sizes, literally speaking, with stage setup and attendance numbers. We still have a lot more to come. So far I have seen the opening ceremonies for the Special Olympics U.S. Games, high school graduations, rock & roll concerts (Styx and Foreigner), Professional Bull Riding, WWE, and a Katy Perry concert, which was out of this world awesome!

So I guess I should explain what exactly I do here at the PruCenter, shouldn’t I? Well some things are confidential so I can’t give away too much but when it isn’t a concert day, I am in the office doing the regular office stuff: filing, copying, scanning, running errands around the offices, and basically anything else that my supervisors call upon me to do. I’ve created spreadsheets to compile numbers from past events to show data percentages for other departments to use. I’ve created quotes and estimates for potential customers whom wish to use our spaces for an event of some sorts. I have sat in countless meetings with partners and other departments about anything and everything dealing with the operations piece of an event.

All in all the days are busy but enjoyable.

The guys in the office are a blast to work with and have really helped me out and shed their knowledge about the field on me.

During events, I rotate working with either event management or guest services. When working with event management, the work usually starts about a week before the event, but if you’re lucky and working with someone who knows what they’re doing, it might start a few months before hand. That means going through walkthroughs of the facility, developing an event flow and location, along with other more confidential material. However, on event days, my day has an early start, like today for instance, we have a Columbian concert tonight and I needed to arrive for work by 8 a.m. and when commuting via train from Queens to Newark means I need to wake up quite early.

After I arrive, the stagehands are on their way, building the stage and rigging for lights and what not.

Throughout the day, we work with the event promoter and basically make sure everything on the contract has been met and is accounted for. Once the event beings, our jobs are pretty much finished. Then we get to go and enjoy the show.

When working with guest services, the main goal for us is to make sure every guest has a happy experience. This is sometimes difficult, but it must be done all done with a smile too. In some cases you make their day but doing relocations, which is basically giving out floor seats to a party that is sitting up in the rafters. Lately I have been in charge of VIP ticket will call. They come in, tell me their last name and show proper identification, and then I give them their tickets. If there is a problem, which there has been, you go to the source who either left them the tickets or who sold them. Not too difficult, but they are VIP so they needed to be treated with the utmost of care.

That’s the rundown on what I do pretty much weekly. Its long hours, sometimes I leave work passed 11p.m., and I work on weekends, but in the end I am loving what I am doing, I am learning a whole lot, and I get to see some awesome shows so it is all worth it. When the end of August comes around I know I am not going to want to leave this place. There is a great working and social culture here that I am proud to be a part of. Well, time to get back to work. Hopefully I can write again soon!

It’s hard to get pictures of me since I am constantly moving around but here are two that people in the office took my me. The one with the radio is from Special Olympics and the other one is from Katy Perry.

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Another Two Weeks!

It’s been quite some time since I have written anything! I’ll just say I have been building the suspense. My second group of two-week campers are here and boy are they different than my last group. They listen better and get things done a lot quicker, but they aren’t nearly as playful and silly; every group is different. Here is what we have done so far and a few things I have learned along the way.

  1. Cali kids love “good vibes.” We spent a day in arts and crafts making ‘good vibes’ shields to keep the peace within the cabin and in the water. “Shred the gnar” is a common term.

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  1. Our camping trip to San Onofre will never be the same from one group to the next. The first time we went the waves were perfect and the kids were on “high alert” because the boys and girls were super flirty. This past trip the waves weren’t nearly as good and the kids were super laid back and mingled without creating cliques. Pros and cons to each!memz5Our tent set up at San Onofre

 

  1. A girl can be taught to ride a bike and bike for 28 miles in the same day. One of my girls, Taylor, is 15 and had never learned to ride a bike. The bike trip is something that happens for all two week Beachcombers (our teens group). We spent an hour and a half in the morning teaching her to ride a bike and then took off. It was really challenging, but one of the other girls was super helpful to me and we would help her take off and then we would run back to our bikes and continue on. The trip was far longer than usual, but Taylor was  grateful that she had learned to ride a bike.

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I’ve learned far more along the way, but those are just a few memorable moments.

I had a day off at the beginning of the week and was able to go to Good Will, spend time with friends, work out (much needed!), and go to the drive-ins. I have seen wild dolphins jump right in front of my face, learned (basically) how to surf, and have been to one of the most world-renowned surf spots. Life is A-okay!

More to come soon!

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Beautiful scenes in SanO!

Sectionals vs. Nationals

These past few weeks into the rest of the summer the group has been split. The majority tapering off for sectionals in Greensboro, which starts Thursday, and the national group chugging along with doubles. We are now about four weeks out from nationals and I keep getting emails from Southwest stating “my trip is right around the corner.” All the athletes training have become stroke and event specific.

I’ve gotten to alternate which group I’m working with and the lanes are much more spread out and everyone’s training is really coming together. People are swimming stronger and smarter from the look of it all. I’m really excited to get on deck at the next two meets. These will be the biggest swim meets I’ve ever attended and I’m extremely excited to be there with the UNC coaches. I’m also glad I have the opportunity to go to these meets and observe and have little responsibility. Someday I hope to help athletes get to that caliber of swim meet and I’m relieved I’ll have deck experience before someone else is relying on me to remain calm, cool, and collected. I also love watching fast swimming. Should I not be employed next March perhaps I’ll take a trip to NCAAs just to watch.

That’s all for now! Congrats to all the kids back home who swam at seniors this past weekend! And best of luck as all of you begin to wrap up your summer seasons with regionals, age groups and beyond!

Go Heels!
Kait

Scapegoat Wilderness Trail Maintenace Trip

After a few days off from my last trip, I packed up once again for my second trip into the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. Within the Bob Marshall Wilderness complex are three different wilderness areas. These include the Great Bear Wilderness in the northern end of the complex, the Bob Marshall Wilderness consisting of one million acres, and the Scapegoat Wilderness. On my second trip, I would enter the Scapegoat Wilderness, which is in the southern end of the complex. This project, like many of mine in the future, was a noxious weeds assignment. There are basically three different types of weeds. There is your standard weed like dandelions that are always in a constant battle against homeowners. Invasive species of weeds, which can take over large amounts of land in a short period of time. And lastly there are noxious weeds. According to the U.S. Department of the interior Bureau of Land Management, a noxious weed is any plant designated by a federal, state, or county government as injurious to public health, agriculture, recreation, wildlife, or property. In order to control these noxious weeds, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation has partnered with the forest service.

The Scapegoat Wilderness was an incredible place to go backpacking. I was told that in 1988, there was a massive forest fire started by a lightning strike and continued to burn around 250,00 acres of land!

My crew leader, five volunteers, and myself started at the North Fork Trailhead where it was a seven mile hike in to the North fork Cabin which consisted of a small room and kitchen. Once again, on this trip we had pack support. Meaning at the trailhead we dropped some of heavier pieces of gear such as our food contained in bear-proof metal boxes, tents, and herbicide packs. We settled in for the night and got some rest for a few days of work.

The noxious weeds we saw most prevalent in the Scape Goat Wilderness included Spotted Knapweed, Toad Flax, Hounds Tongue, Canadian Thistle, along with Musk Thistle. On our first workday, we only had to travel a quarter of a mile away from the cabin to a field that was simply filled with Toad Flax. One of the treatment methods weeds crews often use is herbicide spraying. Toad Flax usually takes a couple of weeks to feel the effects of the tellar and milestone herbicide combination sprayed on it. It also depends on the amount of photosynthesis occurring in the plant. Our only option of treatment for Toad Flax is herbicide spray. The roots of Toad Flax are fragile and if you attempt to pull it up, they will break and five more plants will grow where one was originally.

The next couple work days we tackled a field of Spotted Knapweed about two miles away from the cabin on the edge of the Blackfoot River. Knapweed is on Montana’s noxious weed list because its roots have a poison in them that exterminate the plants in its immediate surroundings. Fortunately we have a couple methods of treatment for this high priority weed. These include simply pulling the weeds and once again spraying them. When pulling the weeds up, it is vital to get the whole root of the plant out or else other plants will still struggle to survive and the knapweed can grow back. One day we pulled around seven large trash bags each weighing about 20 pounds. Unfortunately you cannot just pull the plant and leave it there. Forest service horse packers had to come pick all the bags up at the cabin where they are taking to a landfill. We still had to carry them from the field to the cabin though. My supervisor made a type of liter that her and myself used to carry back more than 100 pounds of knapweed the two miles back to camp. Some of these weeds you can burn after pulling. However, if you burn knapweed, the seeds are not usually harmed so we would still have to carry the ash out anyways.

One great part about working for the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation is that it more about educating our volunteers than it is to pull and spray every last weed. On week longer trips, we give the volunteers a day off from work to explore the area, fish, and enjoy the wilderness around them. I used this as an opportunity to do some scouting for a trip I have coming up which goes deeper into the Scapegoat Wilderness. My supervisor and I wanted to know whether it would be worth bringing a crosscut saw or two to remove any down logs on the Cabin Creek Trail. So I set out by myself in to go see how it looked. It was a four-mile hike just to the start of Cabin Creek Trail and I believe I made it about three miles up that trail before I had to turn around because of some dark thunderhead clouds in the sky. I counted more than 20 down trees on the trail, and bumped into other backpackers who came from the other end and counted more than 50 logs and two avalanche pile-ups on the trail. I got a lot of good information to use for our trip and it looked like we will be plenty busy. Although it was a pretty tiring 15-mile day, I enjoyed spending some time by myself seeing some incredible mountain with snowcapped peaks and rushing rivers from the snow melting off.

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