Each year we kick around some ideas for a “Trail Mission for the STS” and each year it amounts to about the same. The usual chores always need attention: deadfall removals, limb lopping, brush cutting, mowing, blaze painting, maybe a log bridge here and there, another shelter.

It might sound sort of mundane, but by spring we’re anxious to get out there and get started. You’ve heard our saying by now — “Spring Around The Trail,” which means that each section maintainer should get out and check his/her stretch as soon as feasible.

I like to wait for bare ground for a couple of reasons; you can see what you’re walking on and debris isn’t still frozen to the ground. Besides it’s nicer to work in fair weather.

We do have at least one different project to work at this year. We have mileage markers to put up. These will be placed at each mile along the loop, giving hikers a good idea where they are at any given time or distance.A measuring wheel will be used to determine correct mileages.

Our club president, Wanda Shirk, is in charge of this project, but I’m sure she would welcome some assistance. When the time gets here to start that, we’ll let all members know. And remember, you needn’t be a member to join us on any of our projects, not just the work details but also at our monthly meetings, information booths at events, parades, whatever.

And each year we are finding more places we can mow with the DR mower. What a machine this is, kind of like a lawnmower on steroids. At first glance it looks kind of intimidating, but it operates like a pussy-cat, with electric start, power steering, four speeds and reverse, operator-presence lever (you just let go and everything stops).

We’ve found only a couple of steep spots where it didn’t readily go, but with some coaxing it finally went OK. It cuts briars, small saplings, burdocks, barberry, about anything we encounter on the trail.

We also hope to put up another trail shelter as soon as we can. We need to wait until the back roads are passable to get out and scout a new location. It then has to be approved by DCNR. Hopefully we could get one up earlier this year, so that summer hikers could be using it.

They have made good use of the others and we get good reports on them. If it saves setting up a tent in the rain and packing up a wet tent the next morning I guess it’s all worth it. In each shelter we try to provide a small table which can be used inside or outside as space and conditions allow, a bench, a register box with sign-in book, a broom and rake, and a fire-ring (which we trust is used with great care).

Hikers are urged to leave any comments (even complaints), so that maybe we can keep on improving things.

So make 2020 the year you visit the STS, and be thankful for the Susquehannock State Forest we have to roam around in, all 265,000 wonderful acres of it.

Our club has available guide-books and maps of the STS and associated trails. And DCNR has a public-use map with a myriad of trails throughout the forest, so you can hike to your heart’s content. A wise man said, “Of all exercises, walking is best.” The STS is perfect for a week in the woods.

Bill Boyd is a member of the Susquehannock Trail Club. He can be reached at billboydsts@gmail.com.