Today we have a guest post by Aube Rey Lescure, Outdoor Stewardship Program Assistant of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. She tells us about a recent project that the organization took on to restore a popular trail and how NestFresh Eggs helped power the staff and volunteers through this important day of work.
A few stars still twinkled persistently above the ink-black outlines of the Front Range peaks. Even the earliest of birds were resting their vocal cords at 4 a.m., and the only sound that came to break the silence of the pristine wilderness was the clinkering of kitchenware coming from a cook tent near Guanella Pass. Standing by the light of a lantern set atop an icebox, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) crew chef Barbara surveyed a busy stovetop, ensuring the water for coffee was heating and that the black beans for the breakfast burritos were stewing. She poured a hefty dose of creamy, golden mixture into the pan from a giant jar—120 NestFresh Eggs hand-beaten earlier that week (it was, reportedly, quite the arm workout). Barbara gently scrambled the eggs until they were fluffy and yellow, and then stored them into a heated tray in order to later repeat the process all over again. With more than 40 volunteers and project team members to feed, she knew there would not be a moment of respite until the first volunteer car rolled up the dirt road at 5:30 a.m.
For the past 30 years, VOC has mobilized tens of thousands of volunteers on stewardship projects across the state. This weekend while up at Mount Bierstadt – one of Colorado’s most beloved and popular 14’ers – VOC was partnering with the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative to restore damage to a trail incurred by heavy use and erosion. The two organizations worked at this same site 15 years ago to install the raised boardwalk that snakes through the alpine wetlands and keeps hikers out of the mud. Although the task this time around was less of a gargantuan enterprise, it still required a lot of careful execution and heavy lifting, including lugging large logs and 30-pound buckets of rocks miles up the Bierstadt trail.
On a project like Bierstadt, where volunteers face a long and strenuous work day at high altitude, nutritious and satisfying meals are key to minimizing physical strain and keeping volunteers fueled for the day. Since VOC provides free meals for volunteers on almost all projects, the organization regularly benefits from generous food donations from local businesses. NestFresh Eggs have consistently been a breakfast favorite since the company started providing cases of fresh, cage-free eggs to VOC in 2010.
On this chilly morning, just as the sun began to warm the peaks, volunteers started trickling into the campsite and huddling around the cooking tent. They sipped their coffee and chatted while patiently waiting for their turn in line at the burrito station. Soon enough, Barbara brought out a tray of warm flour tortillas, which were then topped with hearty black beans and the sunny scrambled eggs. Tomato salsa, cheddar cheese and green chili peppers were layered on to throw some color into the mix. With fruit salad to complement the savory egg burrito and a steaming cup of coffee on the side—voilà, a delicious and hearty breakfast fit for outdoor champions!
Barbara finally took a break as volunteers devoured her delectable creations, but still kept a vigilant eye over the meal stations to ensure everything was in order—the coffee needed a refill; the peanut butter M&Ms were vanishing far too quickly; and did anyone want more tortillas? In the whirlwind that was breakfast, Barbara was grateful to have quality ingredients like NestFresh Eggs. She said herself, “They are so fresh and tasty on their own that I don’t need to do anything special. I scrambled them up, and the color is just so fresh and beautiful—our volunteers love them and always ask about the eggs!”
Propelled by protein and the crisp alpine air at Mt. Bierstadt that morning, volunteers spread through the willows to install water bars, post barriers and check steps. As they tirelessly shuttled barrel after barrel of gravel down the trail and carried logs up the mountain, they were greeted by effusive words of gratitude from hikers who were enjoying the outdoors. “Thank you for your hard work!” seemed to be a common refrain of the day. Experiencing a project first-hand can really deepen one’s understanding of environmental stewardship as its own “ecosystem”—nature provides a breathtaking experience for outdoor enthusiasts to give back by volunteering to maintain the trails, and Colorado businesses like NestFresh contribute to the cycle by, literally, nourishing the sustainability movement.
To learn more about VOC, including upcoming projects that include free, protein-packed breakfasts (compliments of NestFresh) to power you through the day, visit www.voc.org.