Hitch 1.5 was a success! Despite the park closures, unpredictable weather, and changing schedules, we were able to accomplish a lot of work on the Shenandoah National Park Appalachian Trail connectors! Our initial first hitch was cut short due to weather so we had an impromptu break before rescheduling hitch 1.5.
Taylor clearing out a drain to get water off the trail.
The work was very similar to the previous week, water bar and grade dip clearings and vegetation work took up most of our time. With some dangerous weather, we also improved our tool sharpening skills. We worked on many shorter and more spread out trails so we were able to view a considerable amount of the park while driving from trailhead to trailhead. Having the work carry over from the last hitch was nice because we were familiar with the terrain and the tools. The work can become quite rhythmic with the sounds of the forest in the background.
Thomas cleaning out debris, overgrowth, and build up in a drain.
Bear are very common in the park, but we had yet to see any. Then on Thursday we saw two black bears! The first bear mozied it’s way across and up the trail from us during an afternoon of work and the other was a younger bear who commonly appears in the Big Meadows Campground. Seeing such powerful and amazing creatures is a great reminder of how vast and wild the world around us is.
The best thing about this hitch was how our group continued to grow together. I’ve had a lot of experience with Tuckman’s stages of group development: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. The forming stage is where the group starts to come together and there is often some uncertainty and hesitation within group relations. Storming is where people start to understand their role within the group and conflict and competition is very common. Norming is the cohesion of the group within interpersonal relationships and there becomes a sense of belonging and trust. Performing marks peak performance and is characterized by independence, strong leadership, and productivity. Adjourning is the end of the work and of the group. Groups will move back and forth and do not always experience all five stages.
It is really interesting to see how groups reach these stages differently. You will never experience each stage the same way twice because every group is unique. I really enjoyed getting to know my crew more this hitch. I believe we transitioned from storming to norming and are at the brink of performing. We all seem to be opening up and becoming more comfortable with one another. With the longer drives we spent more time talking and getting to know each other. Dinner is a social time and we often play cards afterwards until going to bed. We have 2 crew leaders and 6 members from different places and stages in life. It is very cool seeing how 8 individual people can all come together in the woods and accomplish so much.