Last week, as assistant athletic director Trish Austin ‘01 was cleaning out the athletic storage area in anticipation of construction starting on Phase 4 of the Farrell Field House project, she came across a Proctor Woodlands Trail map from the mid-1980s.
The product of former faculty member Derek Mansell’s MALS coursework at Dartmouth College, this detailed trail map was one of the first to illustrate the vast network of trails constructed over time by dedicated faculty and staff. This morning, mountain biking coach and dorm parent Chris Grotnes shared an updated version of the Proctor Woodlands Trail Map with the community as we prepared for Earth Day workshops. The growth of this trail network over the past few years has been significant, while the magic of Proctor’s woods remains the same as it has been for decades.
Our group Earth Day group navigated up and over Ragged Mountain from New Canada Road in Wilmot, stopping at the Balanced Rock lookout before descending into Proctor’s network of trails. Crossing Choppah’s Trail and preceding down Dragon’s Pass (another new one you need to check out!), students in our group noticed the condition of the trails. They were remarkable: leaves blown off, drainage ditches created, bridges built. For those of us who use the trails regularly, we have become accustomed to their pristine nature and often overlook all the hard work that goes into maintaining this resource.
So much of this year has been about us being served: tables are wiped down behind us at the dining hall, food served on our plates, dorms cleaned more frequently, and due to safety concerns, students are not able to help clean as much as they have in the past. The notion of everyone doing their part to keep this community running has become increasingly compartmentalized based on our role at the school. When we are asked to become more specialized in our responsibilities, we become less aware of the work of others simply because we are detached from it.
Today’s Earth Day projects provided an opportunity to reconnect to the work required to keep this school going: taking care of the land around us, connecting with each other, getting our hands dirty. We all share a responsibility to steward that which is before us, and today we carved out an entire day to do just that. We built bridges, replaced camping platforms, hiked, pruned, weeded, gardened, and explored. It rained. It was muddy. We got dirty. And it was glorious. It was just what a celebration of Earth Day should be.