With the winter weather nearing its end, members of the Cayuga Trails Club are eager to start spending more time outdoors through the art of volunteering.
Roger Hopkins, Webmaster for the club and a member of the board of directors of Finger Lakes Trail Conference, said the club’s mission is to get members more involved in supporting a major trail system within New York.
“Other than having a good time with some good people in the woods, we are responsible for the maintenance of our section of the Finger Lakes Trail, which is about 90 miles,” Hopkins said.
Volunteers participate in trail scouting, construction and maintenance of the trail, but also get the chance to take hikes, go snowshoeing, and enjoy potluck dinners with others in the area who are dedicated to the upkeep of the Finger Lakes Trail.
One of those hikes that Cayuga Trails Club started in early March was their ”Spring Stretch Your Legs Hike” series, looking to get new members — like Karen Serbonich, manager of mail services at Ithaca College — and returning members excited about keeping up their portion of the Finger Lakes Trail. The late afternoon hikes will also be joined with night hikes starting in late March.
Along with those hikes, Gary Mallow, vice president of the club, said members come out to volunteer undergoing such tasks like trail creation, small bridge construction, and lean-to construction, among others. He said that it is extremely important to be involved in this work now, especially when industry threats, like gas wells, tend to destroy natural areas and make them unsuitable for hiking.
“What started out as kind of a hobby and side interest for me has turned into something bigger,” Mallow said. “It’s a concern about the overall environment.”
The club looks for new members every year to fulfill their mission. Mallow said specifically they are looking for college students to help with trail maintenance. Hopkins said there is something fulfilling about working in a group of dedicated individuals from all generations.
“Being with a group gives you a bigger sense of mission,” Hopkins said. “I feel good about the fact that I’m helping keep this place the way it is.”