Volunteer Spotlight–Katie Aberbach

Name: Katie Aberbach

Town: Stoneham

Involved Since: 2016

Profession: Writer/Communications Professional

Katie tells us:

I moved to Stoneham about two years ago, and since then, I’ve spent a lot of time exploring the Fells. My husband and I love to bring our dog and 1-year-old son on hikes around Spot Pond, Sheepfold, the Reservoir Trail, and the many other trails in the Fells. A highlight of my maternity leave last fall was taking hikes with the Babes in the Woods group. It was such a great way to learn about the natural landscape and connect with other new parents and babies (as well as the very dedicated and friendly hike leaders and volunteers). While I’m no longer able to make those hikes, I continue to spend weekends with my family in the Fells. We love visiting year-round, and we are always amazed at the natural beauty in what’s essentially our own backyard. In addition, I have started to volunteer my time as a copy editor and proofreader for the Friends of Fells. I hope that my contributions help the Friends of the Fells effectively spread their message and protect and promote this local treasure.

In the spring of 2014, the Friends of the Fells launched an updated Fell Trail Adopter Program.  Two dozen interested volunteers attended an information session and ultimately 17 individuals and groups applied to adopt a Middlesex Fells trail in 2014.

Throughout the year, over 15 miles of trails and paths through the Fells were actively maintained by trail adopters.  I could see the impact of their work when scouting trails to plan community service events like National Public Lands Day.  Areas that have often required cleanup efforts were found in a pristine state.  Several trails have been easier to navigate thanks to volunteer efforts to clear brush from the trails and signs.  While hiking or running during hurricane season, I would often encounter downed trees or branches one week, only to find the trail clear and passable the following week.

The efforts of individual Trail Adopters complemented the ongoing efforts of DCR to maintain the Reservation.  Park Ranger Mike Nelson noted that “It’s great to have extra eyes and a fresh perspective out there to let us know what problems exist so we can address them.”  DCR staff have cut away fallen trees reported by trail adopters, and also re-blazed a confusing section of the Cross-Fells Trail based on input from the adopters.

Several local groups have joined the effort.  Melrose Boy Scout Troop 615 (pictured), a Girl Scout troop from Winchester, employees and volunteers from Zoo New England, students from Medford High School working with Eagle Eye Institute, and the Young Members of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Boston chapter all participated in the Trail Adopter program this year.

Thank you to all of our Trail Adopters who have worked to make this program a great success!

Looking forward, DCR has approved the program to continue in 2015 and I have already received reports from Trail Adopters working in the Fells this January.  With 79 miles of trails and paths running through the Fells, there is room for many more to join the program this year.  The Friends of the Fells Trail Adopter Handbook will tell you all you need to know about adopting a trail.  To get involved, see the Fells Trail Adopter Program page.

Sunday’s low humidity and clear skies was perfect for the third running of the 2014 VERT Sasquatch 2.3 mile Fells trail race!  Starting from the field across from the Stone Zoo three waves of a total of 931 runners headed out for the sprint to the finish line!

While the fastest runner completed the course in just 12:37 minutes(!) everyone was happy to have experienced the results of their training and determination to complete the race!  Here is a map of the course and see photos from previous Fells races.

The after race dj party was a blast with free food & beer sponsored by Notch Brewing, Slumbrew, Night Shift Brewing & Downeast Cider.

The race benefits Friends of the Fells and the Stoneham Senior Center.  Thanks to VERT organizer Eddie O’Connor and so many other race volunteers including Friends of the Fells members, DCR Rangers, Stone Zoo, State Police,  City of Stoneham and many others for helping make this event a highlight of the summer!

For more information on additional VERT races click here: http://www.vertraceseries.com

Woodland Road route before entering the Fells

VERT after race DJ Party!