KERHONKSON, N.Y. – This past spring, Plast scouts of Kerhonkson, N.Y., completed a trailblazing project, assisting in the clean-up of hiking trails located at Soyuzivka Heritage Center.
Our valiant team, led by scoutmasters Roman Hrab Sr., Roman Wasylyk and Nadia Maczaj, included Roman Hrab Jr., Vera Hrab, Julianna Maczaj and Pavlo Mysak, all members of the Plast scout patrol named Pumas. We contacted the assistant manager at Soyuzivka, Stefko Drabyk (also a member of Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization), to ask if we could help in the springtime clean-up. He replied enthusiastically, supplying us with trail blazes and tools. We also received a trail map, showing the five trails – red, yellow, green, blue and orange.
With tools and trash bags in hand, we began work on the green trail, the most popular of the hiking trails among young enthusiasts and the easiest one to hike. With rakes and loppers, we cleaned winter debris from the paths, removing slippery leaves, visible roots and any other hazards, and collecting trash along the way. We did the same for the remaining four trails. The red trail was particularly challenging, as it was very poorly marked and we had to excavate it from the surrounding woods, using our trail map to guide us.
After cleaning all the trails, we hiked each one again, marking each with its specifically colored Soyuzivka logo blazes. As we hiked, we used a phone app to determine elevations and lengths of each trail. To complete the project, we designed and installed trailhead signs for each. The signs reflect the original trail blazes and include details about each trail.
We learned many valuable skills during this project. Our scoutmasters led training for us about cartography and topography. They challenged us to improve our Ukrainian language skills with new vocabulary. We each received merit badges reflecting our new skills.
Since completing our project, we have heard that visitors have enjoyed the newly marked trails. We are proud to know that our work has been noticed and appreciated. We plan to keep up on maintenance of the trails and to add more trail blazes in the spring of 2018 where needed.