As a group of trail workers crammed in a truck, one asked “What’s one word you would use to describe today?”
My word: dedication. It takes dedication to volunteer your time to do manual labor. It takes dedication to spend your weekend in the middle of nowhere and work all day. It takes dedication to carry equipment under the blazing sun with no shade in sight.
That is how I spent four weekends during the month of July. Every Friday, I would shove my tent into the trunk of my car, buy some food at the grocery store, and drive upwards of two hours to camp in the middle of nowhere. After that, two days of working on the Maah Daah Hey trail ensued. I was not the only one there, however. Different people volunteered to give up their weekends and join us in doing trail work.
In the month of July, volunteer hours combined on the Maah Daah Hey trail was over 700 hours. Naturally this brings a question forth. Why? Why spend so much time working on this trail?
Dedication. The volunteers who worked on this trail did it because they are dedicated individuals who love the trail. Without these volunteer efforts, there are parts of the trail that would be completely impassable. Without these volunteer efforts, this trail would cease to exist. Nobody would be able travel across Devil’s Pass, gaze at the Little Missouri River from the switchbacks they’re climbing, or any other unforgettable memory from the trail.
Because of that, volunteers make 10 mile treks in temperatures over 90. So that this trail is available for the enjoyment of anybody who wants a taste of it. They haul shovels, weed whackers, brush mowers, pulaskis, and any other useful trail tools with them to make as many improvements as they can.
And as each volunteer takes another step and it feels that much harder than the last, all they need to do is look around them. As the badlands expand around them, they’re reminded of why they’re standing under the blazing sun. The sights around them can now be experienced by everyone because of their hard work and dedication.
They go home with the pride that they have a hand in saving the Maah Daah Hey. Because without each trail work volunteer, the trail would not be as useable as it is now. Because of them, the Maah Daah Hey lives on another year to share its views with the world.