Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Compassionate Leaders Turn Attention to Backyard
Saturday, September 26, 2020


Thirty miles of trail north of Sun Valley are in the best shape they have been in years, thanks to 25 high school and college Compassionate Leaders from the Flourish Foundation.

The students joined hands with members of the Pulaski User’s Group to reclaim 20 miles of trail from Hay-Knapp Creek to Loon Creek and down to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in the Frank Church Wilderness.

They also restored 10 miles of trail in the White Clouds and Sawtooth Wilderness area.

Mentors from the Pulaski Users Group taught them how to work with corona saws and Pulaskis, a firefighting tool combining an ax and an adze cutting tool. And they taught the young leaders about how we all own the land they were working on and that we all have a duty to maintain and preserve it so all can experience Mother Nature with minimal environmental impact.

Greg Travelstead, founder and director of the Pulaski Users Group, said the entire 20-mile trail abutting the Middle Fork looks the best it has in at least 20 years.

And Compassionate Leader Facilitator Abby Mills said the experience of stepping outside themselves and rising to the challenge made her feel the joy of being alive and restored her faith in humanity amidst a pandemic and challenging times.

“The passion in which the Pulaski users shared their reasons for why they spend countless hours in the wilderness became an infectious momentum throughout the week,” she said. “I genuinely believe this energy was contagious amongst the crew and kept everyone motivated and united through the long days.”

Noah Koski of Flourish Foundation said he also was moved by the experience.

“To explore our inner landscape with the backdrop of these wild spaces is pretty profound. And to combine that with easing other’s access to our beautiful backcountry is a joy that fills so many cups,” he said. “The more young people have positive experiences in the wilderness, the more voices these places have to stand up for them.” 

In past years Flourish Foundation’s Compassionate Leaders have worked on projects in places like India and Mexico. But the COVID pandemic forced them to focus their energies closer to home. The environmental stewardship trips were made possible through contributions of backcountry gear from residents of both Blaine and Custer counties,


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