JACKSON – Members of the Jackson Pathfinders along with other volunteers gathered recently at one of the township’s trails to install exit signs at five key locations.
“Our new signs point the way to the main parking lot as well as to two alternate exits. These signs will facilitate a stress-free escape from the trail if ever necessary. They might even save someone’s life in an emergency,” longtime Jackson Pathfinders member Dan Green said.
“Last June I wrote a proposal to install exit signs at five key intersections along the Purple Heart Trail. During the intervening months this was discussed and approved by the Pathfinders leadership, and nine different signs for the five locations have now been made by a sign company,” Green said.
He added that for the recent installation to take place, a few obstacles had to be overcome. Those obstacles included forming a plan for obtaining enough signposts, how to transport everything over the challenging terrain and having enough volunteers at the right place and time.
A few days prior to the event, members of the group’s leadership met via Zoom “to work out the final plan.” Those who attended that virtual meeting included Jackson Pathfinders Chair Matt McCall and former chair Karen Walzer.
McCall told The Jackson Times, “as the new chair of the Pathfinders, I one day hope to fill just a small portion of the shoes that Karen wore leading this amazing group.” McCall has prior experience in posting signs. He was part of a team headed by his son, Matthew, who in May of 2021 coordinated an Eagle Scout project involving signage on the Children’s Trail.
“Members of the Jackson Pathfinders, as well as three cadets from Jackson’s Air Force ROTC program, spent three hours on the Purple Heart Trail,” McCall said. He noted the day’s community service event saw the installation of nine directional signs throughout the trail.
McCall added, “the installed signs advise visitors hiking the Purple Heart Trail to the Butterfly alternate road as well as the exit to the main parking lot.” The Purple Heart Trail entrance and main parking lot is located near intersection of Whitesville Road and East Veterans Highway. This trail is located on the property known as Bunker Hill Bogs and showcases many former working cranberry bogs.
“It’s a popular place to fish, hike, bike, bird watch or just relax at – and with the newly installed directional signs, we hope that more people will feel more comfortable visiting this Jackson gem of a property and take advantage of a well-groomed trail, beautiful scenery, and gorgeous views of many different birds and animals that call the Purple Heart Trail Home,” he added.
“We are always searching for Boy Scouts looking to complete their Eagle Scout projects on our trails. Within the last year, we had successful Eagle Scout projects completed on the Jackson Jungle Children’s Trail and the Silver Stream Trail. Any Scouts looking to learn more about possible Eagle Scout opportunities on our trails, feel free to reach out to us on our website via the ‘Contact Us’ option,” McCall added.
The Purple Heart Trail “has a number of branches and spurs, which can result in some visitors becoming lost. The motivation for the exit signs was to help anyone lost to escape, and that was why today’s event was named the Purple Heart Escape,” Green said.
Green advised anyone utilizing any of the township’s trails – four of which are maintained by the Pathfinders – to “wear sturdy shoes or boots and bring drinking water. There is always a trip-and-fall risk, so take a friend along to walk with you; don’t go out alone. Keep a few trash bags in your car and take one with you for ‘carry in, carry out’ etiquette.
“It is wise to protect yourself against ticks, mosquitoes and chiggers before you go out on any trail. Spray your clothing with Permethrin the day before. Then, on the day of your walk, apply Picaridin or other insect repellent to your skin. When you return home, inspect your body and remove any ticks you may find,” Green added.
Resident Ellen Repasy formed The Jackson Pathfinders in the spring of 1999. Volunteers’ trim briars and branches, clear fallen trees, install trail markers and signs, maintain boardwalks and bridges–and much more.