Start Planning Your Summer in the Mountains

The days are stretching a little longer with each passing week. You’ve nearly perfected that new trick move eluding you all winter, or perhaps you finally graduated to backcountry skiing or mastered your first black diamond. But in the coming months your winter escapades will come to an end as the snow slides and trickles into waterways.

Now is the ideal time to plan for summer. A new season entails fresh adventures. But this year, step outside your comfort zone and into a different mountain range. Living in the U.S. gives us a multitude of mountains ranges from which to choose. However, snow sports enthusiasts often gravitate to west of the Mississippi River for skiing and snowboarding, overlooking East Coast peaks.

Yet, the Appalachian Mountains, which run from Georgia to Maine, offer boundless adventures and are dotted with small communities supporting the outdoor lifestyle. If the disappearance of snow means the loss of a job for you, look east to a seasonal job in the mountains that’ll keep you outdoors dirty on conservation projects.

We’ve put together a list of ideas on how to explore the Appalachian Mountains while simultaneously getting paid for conservation/environmental-related work. Scoring one of these gigs just might make you love the rest of the year as much as winter!

Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC):

The AMC was founded in Boston in 1973 and is the country’s oldest outdoor recreation and conservation organization. Obviously, they’re doing something right! This organization is behind the famed huts perched among New Hampshire’s White Mountains. AMC employees not only live in the remote huts, campgrounds and lodges as crew and caretakers, but the staff also maintains more than 1,800 miles of trail throughout the Northeast.

If you’re interested in working and living in the New England mountains, then the AMC is your ultimate resource. From positions as nature guides, teen wilderness instructors and trail crews to staffing the White Mountain huts, there is bound to be an opportunity to match your interests!

Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC):

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is the nonprofit organization tasked with the monumental task of overseeing and maintaining the 2,180-mile Appalachian Trail. They rely heavily on local trail clubs to help maintain sections of the footpath. Volunteer, seasonal and full-time positions are available through the ATC and its state partner organizations.

If you wish to learn a specific section of trail and mountains as well as the curve of your ski, then a seasonal ridge-runner position is your ideal job. A ridge-runner is assigned a specific stretch of trail (varies from 5 – 15 miles to more than 50) and usually lives in a tent along the Appalachian Trail. The person is tasked with reporting any trail maintenance problems like downed trees and also being a source of information and assistance for hikers and backpackers. However, these positions are highly sought after, so you should apply the October or November before the springtime/summer you wish to run ridge lines on the East Coast.

By AI Blog contributor: Megan Parks