by Alivia Acosta, ATC Volunteer Development Coordinator
Meet Kris English: Technical Trail Specialist
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is excited to announce the new role of a Technical Trail Specialist. This year, Kris English will be traveling along the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) providing a variety of workshops centered around introducing A.T. maintenance standards to people interested in volunteering as well as refreshing skills for long-time Trail volunteers.
Kris is thrilled to share her passion for trail work with others while exploring the beauty of the A.T. this season. Learn more about Kris and her work below and join one of her upcoming training courses near you: https://www.appalachiantrail.org/waystovolunteer
Tell us why you work on trails.
Nothing feels better than getting covered in dirt and putting in a hard day’s work. Even on the toughest day there’s nowhere I’d rather be. For all the things that trails and the outdoors have provided me it’s nice to feel like I can give a little something back.
What have been some of your most challenging and favorite trail projects?
The first one that comes to mind is trying to wrestle rocks down a sloped trail with mud as thick as peanut butter. We could barely walk without falling or slipping, and my crew didn’t think it would be possible to get this project done. However, we put our heads together and rigged a pretty creative solution. We were able to complete our new switch back with two retaining walls. At the end of the week, we were covered head to toe in mud and everyone said it was the most fun they had all season. My favorite trail projects are normally ones where my crew and I have gotten to share in a challenging experience and worked together to overcome it.
How has your experience working on trail projects shaped your connection to the outdoors?
Working on trails made me a more educated hiker and conscious of the impact that humans create. There’s also a deeper connection to nature that you get from digging up some earth and getting to know the ground you walk on. During my time as a trail builder, I have seen more flora and fauna than any other outdoor activity. I have found salamanders in the ground and snakes climbing trees. Grouse protecting their nests, bears running back home, and slugs falling in love. One day I almost walked right into the butt of a moose!
What are you looking forward to the most this season as a Technical Trail Specialist with ATC?
This season I am most looking forward to connecting volunteers and understanding all of the diverse components that go into making such a long and incredible trail.
If you were to be personified as a trail tool, which do you feel would represent you best and why?
I would have a say a pick mattock because it’s the tool I would bring with me to do just about any kind of trail work. Some people have one aspect of trail work that really resonates with them, but I love it all! It’s also a tough tool with a few different ways to use it. I like to think that most problems can be solved if you try hard enough and maybe get a little creative!
What would you tell someone who is not sure if volunteering on the Trail is right for them?
I have seen all different ages, genders, and skill levels be successful at building trails. You don’t have to be super strong! There is a friendly and supportive community among the A.T. and any work that someone is able to do is appreciated.