Since 1980, L.L.Bean employees, their families and friends have been maintaining an 18.5-mile section of the Appalachian Trail in Maine. For many years now, trip coordinators Laurie G. and Lisa R. have been avid volunteers, making sure the trail is clean and safe every spring and fall season. Here’s why they do it.
When did you start volunteering?
Lisa: My volunteer journey began in the spring of 1985. Chris W., who’s the founder of the program, influenced me to join. After 1987, I had a break from volunteering and moved to New Hampshire to work at the North Conway Outlet. I came back to Maine in 1998, and returned to the AT as well. Over my 19 years of maintenance service, I’ve been on 40 individual trips—and I’ve enjoyed every one of them.
Laurie: I started in the spring of 2001. Over the 14 years I’ve been volunteering, I haven’t missed a year yet! So far, I’ve attended at least one trip a year and participated in 29 individual trips. Both Lisa and I will reach our milestone AT volunteer anniversaries in 2015—20 years for Lisa and 15 for me.
What’s it like being a trip coordinator?
Lisa: I became a trip coordinator in 2003. Our job is to plan trips, take care of equipment, keep the Maine Appalachian Trail Club up-to-date on the work accomplished as well as what needs to be worked on. We enlist some of our regular volunteers as trip leaders to help coordinate the volunteers for the trips that we offer. It’s a great way to meet other people in the company—make new friends, go on hikes together.
Laurie: I became a trip coordinator in 2006. We host two to three trips a year, in the spring and fall. We do everything we can to keep the trail as clean as possible. We remove fallen trees and clear water bars and causeways for better drainage. In later trips, we check our work from before to make sure everything still looks good. It’s been a great experience, and I’ve enjoyed planning and participating in each trip.
Overall, what do you enjoy the most about maintaining the trail?
Lisa: Seeing the results of our work and knowing we are conserving the trail. It’s fun getting my hands dirty and doing physical work. After each trip I can’t help but feel truly satisfied.
Laurie: Giving back and making a difference in the outdoors is a wonderful feeling. It’s always exciting to see all the volunteers and learn new skills to keep the trail clean. Plus, the scenery is beautiful. I recommend this experience to anyone.