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TRAIL TALES: The poems of Roger Bell

The misadventures of a rookie trail builder.

Read more of Roger's poems from the trail.
Trail Tales
: Roger Bell’s trailbuilding poems published in book form.




I remember my very first job

Fish Canyon with Harvey and Bruce

On sabbatical to write my thesis

My schedule was fairly loose


Besides they were in the Angeles

Not very far from my home

I could go check out trailbuilding

And return to writing my tome


I got up before five each morning

I was barely conscious then

Half asleep, I drove to Duarte

Where my new life was about to begin


What blew my mind was Harvey

With a pry bar in a pile of rock

He did miracles with that tool

An artist without a block


Here I was, just a novice

A beginner without a clue

And my blue-collar brother a genius

There was more to this work than I knew


An excuse to sleep in later

Was the bad poison oak that I got

I tried to stay home and write

But my focus was totally shot


So back to the trail work I went

Itchy arms and wounds to lick

I wasn't skilled, but determined

To find meaning in swinging a pick


'Course Harvey had great fun teasing

(The out-of-shape rookie's fate)

Over and over he told of

One morning when I arrived late


I dragged out my old Army boots

Way too large and boy were they beat

As I hurriedly laced them that day

Turns out they were on the wrong feet!


I was so tired that I didn't notice

Till I started out on my trek

When I looked down I nearly collapsed

I was duck-walking… what the heck?


Well, that story had a way of sticking

Harvey's guffaw could be heard for a mile

Rookies provide entertainment

And sometimes we do it with style.


Roger reminds our readers to join American Trails and help support our work for trails and greenways for all Americans.


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