JACKSONVILLE — Those who like to walk through this historic town's neighborhoods now have access to a meditation trail and circle at First Presbyterian Church, thanks to an Eagle Scout project by Cascade Christian High School student Landon Moir.
The 15-year-old and his army of family and volunteers extended the church's 50-foot meditation trail by 350 feet and added a circle with benches for those needing a quiet spot to reflect.
The trail, accessed through the church's parking lot at 425 Middle St., is easily reached from other walking trails around town and is open to the public.
When Landon was seeking a project for his Eagle Scout rank — the highest in Scouting — First Presbyterian Pastor Larry Jung told him to speak with Dave Henderson, who had been leading efforts for several years to establish a trail through the church's scenic property.
“When he came in with this project, he just gave us a big leg up,” Henderson said. “It’s pretty nice now. Each extension will just make it nicer.”
Most previous work had been removal of underbrush. There is a wetland on the property, a vineyard borders one side and there are views of surrounding countryside and hills from the church's 10-acre site, about half of which has been developed. Future trail extensions are planned.
“I talked with him and said that was the vision to get, to make a meditation trail available to both the community and the congregants for just quiet walks and quietness,” said Henderson. “He seemed to catch the vision."
Henderson told Landon to develop the idea, as Eagle Scout candidates are required to plan projects on their own. After his proposal was approved, Landon began detailed planning in early August. He also secured materials and labor for the project.
“I studied how trails are made, do they have something under it, how do you do the design,” said Landon.
Weekend work sessions with family and others started in September and culminated in a six-hour push on Oct. 24, when 22 people finished the projects. Participants included members of the church's youth groups, Scouts, Scout leaders and parents.
The trail is 6 feet wide, covered with wood chips and has treated 4-by-4 borders. Barrier cloth is underneath the trail to prevent weeds.
“Near the end of my workday, my workers started getting tired," Landon said. "We hammered in about 250, 18-inch rebar stakes into the ground. There were just four of us that kept hammering and hitting them.”
Landon’s work allowed the church's trail committee to turn its attention to putting in a culvert to bridge a waterway and to continue the trail further by removing undergrowth.
A sign will be put up inviting the community to enjoy the meditation trail, which is reached by crossing the back of the church parking lot from a city trail on the old railroad right of way that runs beneath Bigham Knoll in east Jacksonville. Ultimately the church trail will circle back, ending near the administration building.
Landon, a freshman, has one more merit badge to complete before undergoing a Scout master’s conference and a board of review to obtain the Eagle Scout rank. He belongs to Troop 7 of Medford and has been attending the church for 11 years.
Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.