“It’s the size of a mini-bus, there’s no way we’re moving it” asserted Elia Del Molino, Trails Coordinator at Greenagers. “I’ll take that bet” countered Mike Leavitt, Trails and Outreach Coordinator from Berkshire Natural Rources Council (BNRC). The friendly bet, which Elia ultimately lost, was in reference to a 10-ton boulder—a sizable piece of gneiss that would be moved by one person wielding but one grip hoist. The situation was one of the many impressive and daunting challenges poised at last week’s Greenager Grip Hoist Training.
For sixteen hours over the course of two days a small group of local trail building professionals were put through their paces by Jedediah “Jed” Talbot of Off the Beaten Path (OBP): Trail Work and Training. Jed is considered one of the preeminent experts in the field of grip hoist use in trail building.
But what is a grip hoist and why would Greenagers want to get trained in its use? In layman terms a griphoist is a hand operated mechanical hoist capable of moving very heavy objects. From a trailbuilding perspective that means less stress on backs, fewer fingers under heavy objects, and easier movement of stones and logs. It will be a truly helpful tool in the Greenager arsenal.
Learning the parts of a system, their respective jobs and limits, formed the foundation of their learning. The words: griphoist, shackle, power-block, anchor, workload limit, mechanical advantage, and belay became commonplace, calculations on force and angles necessary.
In the field, more accurately the Appalachian Trail in Egremont, they set up directional and power blocks, cables and rope, and mechanical advantages that would safely and efficiently move rocks that no group of individuals could move via muscle alone. In the end Greenagers were made to move, lift, test, calculate, a grip hoist system.
By the end of the training seasoned Greenager and ropes expert Mac Litishin said “I never thought we could learn so much, so fast, and feel so confident in only two days of time. I can’t wait to get on the trails and apply all these cool concepts.”
It won’t be long before Mac gets that chance. In a few short weeks he’ll take to the woods on the Appalachain Trail Crew. Until then he will have to be content waiting for his future fellow Greenagers fill out their applications for the summer.