Ozark Trail Spring Mega

I’ve backpacked a good amount of the Ozark Trail. I’ve volunteered to speak at a few of their trail seminars. I’ve even helped them raise a little money by providing silent auctions and raffle items. But one thing I’ve never done for the Ozark Trail Association (OTA) is build trail. That is, until the OTA Spring Mega came around in April.

Every spring the OTA organizes a “Mega” trail maintenance event. Although the OTA puts together a number of volunteer events throughout the year, the Mega events are the largest and best-attended. There is a second Mega each fall.

OTA Mega

Our crew was a hardy group. It was about a mile walk from the forest road to the maintenance site.

Megas are multi-night affairs. Volunteers begin to arrive on Friday night and spent the evening around the campfire. This year’s event was held at Bass River Resort outside Steelville, Missouri. The balance of the volunteers arrive the next morning. After a quick orientation, participants are divided into crews. As a newb, I was lucky enough to get drafted into a crew composed mostly of grizzled veterans. My son and I were really appreciative of that.

OTA Mega

Near the maintenance area, each crew was allotted a number of strange-looking trail maintenance tools.

In the mid-morning crews begin carpooling to the maintenance site, which was only a twenty minute ride away this year. The focus of this Mega was to build a new re-route of a section of trail that followed so close to a drainage that it continually got washed out in heavy rains. So we were tasked with moving the trail higher up on the hillside. Each crew is responsible for a 50-100 yard section of the re-route.

OTA Mega

I learned a lot about the proper way to build trail; to keep it from washing away and eroding prematurely.

OTA Mega

One of the best parts of the day…lunch on the new trail.

We were lucky that a small bulldozer had come through prior to our arrival and cleared the path. It pushed the large rocks and trees out of the way so we didn’t have to. Without it, our work would’ve been much more intense. We ended up building trail until mid-afternoon.

OTA Mega

Thanks for the donations to the raffle, Teton Sports.  This kid left with a new pack.

Almost all of the volunteers camp the second night of the Spring Mega. There is a large bonfire, a raffle, and a chow line that kept the participants well-fed. By the time things wrapped up on Sunday morning, a record 220 volunteers had participated in the Mega. In addition, over $3,000 was raised through the raffle. I am glad I was able to fit the Mega into my busy spring schedule. I’m already looking forward to this year’s fall Mega.

I find volunteering with the OTA to be very rewarding way in which I can give back to the outdoors.  The Spring Mega is just one way to volunteer.  I encourage you to find your own OTA; a place worthy of your time and talents so you can help ensure the beauty of the outdoors reaches future generations.  Those of you interested in becoming OTA members can find out more about it on the Ozark Trail Association membership portal. As always, thanks for stopping by.

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