2024 Backcountry Caretaker
Green Mountain Club
Green Mountain Club Backcountry Caretakers are multi-talented stewards of the Long Trail system! Caretakers live on-trail four nights a week, stationed at Long Trail overnight campsites. As a Caretaker, your duties are divided between trail maintenance and hiker education. Caretakers are NOT rangers; you'll employ friendly education and stewardship techniques at the Green Mountains' most popular hiking areas in order to encourage safe, low-impact hiking practices and to protect the trail.
Caretakers are generally responsible for maintaining 10-20 miles of trail: repairing drainage structures, cutting blowdowns, and repainting signs and blazes. You will also maintain the shelters, privies, and trail structures within your range.
At your assigned summit or pond, you will engage the hiking public in conversations about low-impact hiking practices and about the fragile natural areas which support many rare and endangered species. Our goal is to facilitate a positive experience on trail for all hikers, while protecting the resource of the trail itself.
All caretaker positions require the ability to work independently, desire to educate the public, and drive to do gritty behind-the-scenes work (including privy maintenance)! All caretakers must be comfortable spending 4 nights per week camping in a tent, sometimes alone and sometimes sharing campsites with the public. Caretakers are responsible for their own food and transportation to/from the trailhead and days off. Green Mountain Club provides tents or shelters, stoves, stove fuel, tools, field guides, maps, and informational resources. Communal day-off housing is available in Waterbury Center and Danby, VT.
Caretakers are stationed at approximately 10-12 popular and ecologically sensitive sites on the Long Trail System.
Caretakers in Southern Vermont work on the Long Trail/Appalachian Trail within the Green Mountain National Forest. These caretakers are assigned to popular hiking and backpacking destinations such as Stratton Pond and Little Rock Pond.
Most caretakers in Northern Vermont are stationed on peaks which feature fragile alpine ecosystems. These caretakers spend about half their time in the alpine zone modeling and encouraging low-impact hiking practices. Most northern caretakers are each assigned to Camel's Hump or Mount Mansfield, plus one at Sterling Pond and another on Mt. Abraham.
Caretakers are supervised and supported by the Caretaker Supervisor and Field Coordinator, plus a Lead Caretaker for either Northern or Southern Vermont.
2024 Position Dates:
Commitment to full season preferred.
Full Season: June 5 - October 17
Summer: June 5 - August 9
Fall: August 5 - October 17
Schedule: Five days per week, typically including weekends. Camping on-site required four nights per week. Regular weekly schedule assigned at start of season.
Compensation: $635/week plus housing.
Benefits: Housing provided, Wilderness First Aid class included with training, retirement (403b) matching, eligible for pro deal gear discounts.
Backcountry Caretaker Responsibilities:
- Educate hikers about fragile ecosystems at high-use sites along the Long Trail.
- Maintain assigned backcountry shelters and tenting areas.
- Regularly maintain assigned composting outhouses.
- Maintain 10 - 20 miles of hiking trail using hand tools.
- Staff designated overnight site four nights per week, acting as knowledge resource for campers and encouraging minimal impact camping practices.
- Collect visitor use data at overnight site and at pond or summit.
- Submit weekly shift reports and group use feedback forms.
- Write formal End of Season report if leaving in October or informal mid-season report if leaving in August.
- Encourage and model Leave No Trace practices and low impact behaviors on trails and at summits, ponds, camping areas, and backcountry shelters.
- Serve as professional backcountry representative of the GMC, both as knowledge source and as behavioral role model.
- Carry first aid kit and sufficient supplies to travel safely in the backcountry at all times.
- Voluntarily participate in Search and Rescue operations.
- Assist with weekly cleaning of staff housing.
Backcountry Caretaker Qualifications:
- Strong backpacking and outdoor skills
- Ability to live independently and work in a remote area with little supervision
- Comfort working multiple days outdoors in sometimes adverse weather conditions
- Comfort with basic hand tools (trail maintenance training provided during orientation)
- Knowledge of Leave No Trace principles (training provided during orientation)
- Ability to effectively communicate with individuals and groups
- Environmental and/or outdoor education experience preferred
- Basic knowledge of Long Trail/Appalachian Trail system
- Wilderness First Aid certification (class available free-of-charge during orientation)
- Must be willing to work weekends and holidays, these are the busiest days on trail!
- Physical Requirements:
- Ability to lift and carry up to 50 pounds at a time
- Ability to be on foot for prolonged periods of time, including hiking several miles with a heavy pack
- Ability to perform difficult manual labor and to carry heavy loads as a regular part of the workday
- Must have valid Driver's License and access to a reliable personal vehicle