It was a long, slow job, but Tolland High School freshmen and girl scouts Lora Giguere and Serena Lotreck have accomplished their goal: they have remarked and remapped the extensive trail systems in Crandall Park for the ease and enjoyment of all of Tolland's nature lovers.
"We heard people complain about how the trails were hard to follow,"Giguere said. She and Lotreck found out that the trails markers, originally painted on tree trunks, were flaking off and that the latest maps, updated in 1997, did not include all the new trails, official and ATV-made, that were in .
Once they heard about the issues, the girl scouts knew they could create a solution for the community while completing their Silver Project, the second highest honor in the Girl Scout program according to the Girls Scout Web site.
However, the girls learned that there are always inevitable bumps in the road.
"We got lost a couple of times," Giguere said, explaining that the map they were using for navigation had very slight, but crucial errors. For example, one trail was marked as continuing to go straight when, in fact, it took a slight left turn. Recreation Department Director Tom Ainsworth had to go find the girl scouts, who were accompanied by Giguere's mother Amie.
"We had to keep singing really loudly for him to find us," Lotreck said, recalling the humorous incident. Luckily, Ainsworth, who guided the girls throughout many hurdles of the project, was able to find the trio and lead them back to civilization.
And even when the girls didn't get lost, the trail re-blazing was slow going as they carried a step ladder through the woods to hang the metal markers high up on both sides of the tree trunks. Giguere and Lotreck also painted over the old markers to prevent any confusion amongst hikers.
While they were positioning the markers, the duo also had a running GPS with them to measure distances. Then, with help from Giguere family friend Clinton Morse, they applied the data to a stripped-down orienteering map to create the updated map.
"They thought it was really important to do the map," Amie Giguere said. "Their task wasn't complete."
Several large copies of the map were posted throughout town, and small copies of the map are being sold as additions to .
While Tolland residents will benefit from the new and improved map, Amie Giguere said that the girl scouts learned a lot about working with various people and organizations to complete a large task.
"I was encouraging them to make the phone calls," Giguere said of the first few phone conversations with Ainsworth. "Lora was just so nervous to make that phone call, but by the end they were calling him all the time."
From phone calls, to hikes and developing some serious map skills, Giguere and Lotreck have completed quite a journey.
"It was a great learning opportunity for them," Amie Giguere said.
The new maps of Crandall Park are available at , as well as complete copies of this year's new walk book.