This is the 9th instalment in a series of Q&As with past TCT volunteers. The aim of this series is twofold: to provide information about what it is like to volunteer with us, and to preserve our antics for posterity.
From: Golden, Colorado
Probably: initially fell in love with camping as a child for the roasted marshmallows
Currently: In med school in Boston
Once: taught cooking and nutrition classes despite calling herself “not a great cook”
Hopes: someday Tom will call her up when he needs a doctor for an expedition…
Project volunteered for: Dilijan Armenia trailbuilding camp 2017
TCT: This is a grassroots project with a marketing budget of precisely zero. Given that, how did you first hear about the Transcaucasian Trail?
Addie: I heard about the TCT through a friend of mine (Leah Everist), who I met when I was studying global health in Geneva. She worked on the trail in Georgia last summer and said I would love it. I was looking for an adventure before starting graduate school, and I thought this would be a fun project with good people.
I wanted to volunteer for the TCT to see a new part of the world, meet new people, and be a part of what promises to be an amazing trail. I’d done a little bit of distance hiking—the longest hike being a traverse of Iceland from North to South—but hadn’t given much thought to how trails were made. To be honest, I thought they just happened naturally as people walked on them. So I was excited to be a part of the behind the scenes work that goes into trails.
TCT: It’s quite a commitment to travel to a brand new part of the world to contribute your time and energy to something completely new! What motivated you to join the project as a volunteer?
Addie: I didn’t have any expectations about what the project would be like. I suppose I was hoping to have a good time, learn something new, and explore a new place – and my experience in Armenia exceeded expectations.
The best part of being on the trail crew was the constant stream of jokes and stories and riddles (Paddy and Val, you know you loved them). As it turns out, there is a lot of time to talk when you aren’t in shape to swing a tool for all eight hours of the day. The worst part was the mosquitos. They almost broke me.
TCT: Trail work is a largely thankless task, which, if done properly, will never be noticed by the people who benefit from it. Where, if anywhere, did your sense of reward come from?
Addie: Someday I’ll go back and hike the whole TCT and when I’m least expecting it I’ll turn a corner and have a moment of deja vu and realize that in this exact spot I ate lavash and sausage in the pouring rain. That will be the best kind of reward.
TCT: We’re assuming that if you’re willing to be interviewed, you mostly enjoyed your time with us! Who would you recommend our volunteer programme to?
Addie: I would recommend the volunteer program to anyone who is excited about being in the outdoors and doesn’t mind hard work. Armenia is a special place and I really admire and respect the people running the project. You won’t regret it!
TCT: How did you use your time off?
Addie: I used my time off by hiking locally to a few monasteries and going to a nearby zip-line.
TCT: Do you have any stories you’d like to share that didn’t make it into your other answers?
One afternoon, the Land Rover got stuck in the mud, and I helped winch it out. I was really excited because I felt like a badass attaching the cable to a tree, except that I kept saying “wench” instead of “winch,” and everyone made fun of me. I didn’t realize they were different words.
When I came back to Boston I ended up in an Armenian market by complete chance with a Jordanian friend, and I got really excited and pointed to the sujuk (sausage) because I knew what the word meant. Why? Because that was what Victoria and Ben named their Armenian puppy. So now thanks to them some Armenians in Boston are probably sitting around a dinner table laughing about the girl who was pointing and saying “soujouk” over and over loudly in their store.