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Anna Schultz-Friends On Hike
Anna Schultz / Her Campus
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Meet the trail builders: the feet that pave the way for your fall hike

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Mizzou chapter.

As autumn blankets the MKT trail and Capen Park with fiery oranges and reds, these natural havens beckon college students and Columbia locals seeking a dose of nature’s beauty. However, what many might overlook amidst the vibrant foliage are the unsung heroes responsible for crafting these picturesque trails – the trail builders.

Among these trailblazers is University of Missouri student Kate Ramseyer, whose journey into the world of trail building began in the summer of 2022 with the Appalachian Mountain Club. Ramseyer stumbled upon this unique opportunity through a family connection and decided to dive headfirst into the world of trail construction.

“I’m really outdoorsy,” Ramseyer said. “So I looked and I saw that they had trail-building options and I had always been a hiker, but I’d never done really physical labor like that before and I was really interested. I tried it and I ended up loving it.”   

For their first position in the summer of 2022, Ramseyer worked on Mount Cardigan in Alexandria, New Hampshire on an all-persons trail. They worked with a crew to shape a trail that was five feet wide and accessible for all people. In the summer of 2023, Ramseyer was tasked with rerouting an older trail, Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, on Mount Washington, a more rugged endeavor involving the creation of new footpaths. 

“It’s probably the most fun job I’ve ever had,” Ramseyer said. “I think that it helped me figure out what kind of work I really love.”

In addition to their main trail assignments, trail builders are often responsible for patrolling survey areas to ensure trails are clear and easily accessible. To prepare for the labor-intensive 10-hour days, Ramseyer says consistent workouts and mental preparation are key.

“I hadn’t really done physical labor before then, but I realized I like to be able to use my body in an impactful way, and, after a day of work, you can physically see how much impact that you’ve made.”

On top of the physical labor, crews often adopt a camping lifestyle. The Appalachian Mountain Club provides food and tents for the crew during workdays. Ramseyer’s crew worked Monday through Thursday, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with an hour lunch break and two 15-minute breaks during the day. Most mornings, the crew was awake by 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. and were back in their tents for the night by 9:30 p.m. On weekends, crews live in club-provided housing and receive hot breakfasts and dinners, along with sack lunches. 

“I just have a huge respect for people who are a part of this trade,” they said. “I really love it. It helped me connect with nature more and see how we can interact with the environment in a way that’s still sustainable and safe for the environment, but we can still explore the outdoors.” 

While Ramseyer has only held summer jobs in trail building, they hope to seek more employment opportunities in the trade in the future. 

As hiking enthusiasts and fall lovers hit the trails this season, remember those that have walked the path before you.

Shannon Worley, a first-year writer for Her Campus Media at Mizzou, is a journalist with a commitment to meaningful, honest storytelling. She strives to be people-focused and connection-driven in her reporting. Before coming to Her Campus, Shannon's journalism journey brought her to West Newsmagazine, Stroll Magazine, The Maneater, Fortune Magazine, Vox Magazine and KMOV-TV. Through these opportunities, Shannon has ventured into diverse realms of reporting, covering topics spanning arts and culture, investigations and social justice. Shannon is excited to continue to tell the stories of Columbians from the Her Campus platform. Reach out with any news tips at shannonworley@mail.missouri.edu.