Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Week 6: June 6-10, 2013

Supercrew at Mount Rogers!

Jumping for joy in the highlands!
Konnarock wrapped up the first half of the season with a Supercrew week in the beautiful Grayson Highlands of Virginia. Unlike most Konnarock projects, the crew camped in the backcountry near Thomas Knob Shelter. The Forest Service brought in the crew's food, tools, and camping gear using an all-terrain vehicle on a horse trail, while the Supercrew backpacked about 5 miles into the campsite with their personal gear.

Crew 1 moving a BIG rock!
The Supercrew camped together in the highlands, but worked in two different areas within the Lewis Fork Wilderness. Crew 1 made some impressive improvements to the spur trail that leads from the AT to the summit of Mount Rogers, the highest point in Virginia.

The trail was badly eroded, so Crew 1 built a massive crib wall and a side drain to improve the drainage. They also built several steps and waterbars, working together to move BIG rocks and crush smaller rocks into gravel.

Crumbsnatcher inspected the inside of the crib wall for stability.

Before: erosion and exposed roots. :-(
After: 13 beautiful steps! :-)
Crew 2 worked on the Appalachian Trail near Brier Ridge. Unlike Crew 1, they were mostly working under tree cover, but they were close enough to the open high country to enjoy lunch out in the open with idyllic views of wild ponies. Crew 2 used some of the abundant large rocks in the area to build steps and waterbars, including an impressive 13-step staircase.

End-of-day adventures.
Backpacking into the camp site.
Crew 2's favorite lunch spot.
Despite plenty of rainy weather, both crews enjoyed the high country's famous vistas when the clouds cleared. Some crew members climbed around on boulders at the end of the workday, or went looking for the feral ponies. While the crew was working, volunteers from the Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club (MRATC) kept an eye on camp and fended off curious ponies. After the crew hiked out at the end of the week, the MRATC provided a fantastic potluck dinner back at base camp!

The Supercrew really appreciated all the help from MRATC and the Forest Service that made this unique project possible. Thanks!!

Crumbsnatcher the AT Shelter Mouse prying a rock with her pick mattock.

Supercrew doing some SUPER stretching!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Week 5:May 30-June 3 2013

 Crew 1: Bluff City Relocation

Crew 1 traveled to Pearisburg, VA to tackle Konnarock's most technical project of the season. The Bluff City Relocation will move the AT away from roads and into the forest, but it involves traversing a steep, rocky bluff. The bluff is so steep the crew members working on it had to wear climbing harnesses and clip into ropes for safety. They also had to prevent the rocks they removed from rolling downhill to the houses below. Between the griphoist high line system that carried the rocks away and the climbing ropes, there was a lot to keep track of out on the bluff!

While some crew members attacked the bluff with sledgehammers and picks, the rest of the crew built new sidehill trail with a lot of help from members of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club. The Konnarock Crew really enjoyed working with RATC members all week, and had a lot of fun playing games around the campfire at night. The crew staff is looking forward to returning to this project Week 12 with a Supercrew!

Crew 2: Big Butt Rehab

Crumbsnatcher and Harper enjoying the sunset from Pickens Nose.
Crew 2 went south, to the beautiful Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina. They did rehab work on a section of the AT just south of Albert Mountain, traversing a landform with the hilarious name Big Butt. Of course, the jokes were flying all week in a place like Big Butt...

The soil in this area is thin and prone to erosion, with bedrock close to the surface. This makes it tricky to build structures, but the crew hauled rocks and logs across steep terrain and used their patience and ingenuity to solve some interesting puzzles. The crew focused on the most dangerous problem areas, adding steps and cribbing in places where the trail gets slippery in the rain or may eventually slide down the mountain without further support.

Camping at an elevation of 5,000 feet, the crew made the most of their scenic surroundings. Crew 2 caught a breathtaking sunset from the Albert Mountain fire tower, splashed around in Betty's Creek after work each day, and hiked to Pickens Nose for another sunset. On Sunday the Nantahala Hiking Club showed their appreciation for the crew's hard work by taking them out to a nice dinner at a Thai restaurant in Franklin, NC. Thanks for all the support, NHC!

Before the Konnarock treatment...
...and after the Konnarock treatment!

A glorious sunset from Albert Mountain.
Dinner in Franklin, courtesy of the NHC!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Week 4, May 23-27 2013

Crew 1: Fontana Lake Relocation

  Crew 1 went back down to the Smokies to put in another great week of work on the Fontana Lake Relocation. The crew blazed forth with loppers, hoes, and rakes to clean up the sidehill trail that was dug by a miniature dozer. They also build both log and rock steps, and several brave volunteers jumped right into the mud to build a french drain and dry out a wet spot on the trail.
There were a few roots to deal with in the backslope.

Crumbsnatcher was joined by her mouse friend Harper. Here they are cutting off the top of a stake in front of a log step.

Celebrating a solid new log step.
All done stretching and ready to hike in!







Crew 2: New River Relocation 

Rolling a rock down the trail to build a rock step.
Crew 2 went north to work on the New River Relocation, outside of Pearisburg, VA. They found some BIG rocks!
The team that built these nice rock steps.
The Outdoor Club of Virginia Tech brought treats like pizza and ice cream up to the crew at camp Friday night. On Sunday, the crew bushwhacked along the route of the future AT to enjoy the view from Rice Field. The new trail they built is so pretty, you'd never know how many rocks and roots they had to remove!
Enjoying the sun on Rice Field after a hard day's work.
Assistant Crew Leader Zack Finney jumping over West Virginia!

Campfire time back at camp.
Crew 2 on their beautiful new trail!

Week 3, May 16-20


Crew 1: Fontana Lake Relocation

Crew 1 went down to beautiful Fontana Lake, North Carolina. With an arsenal of digging tools and loppers, they blazed their way along a trail relocation that will move the Appalachian Trail away from the road and closer to the lake. 

The crew enjoyed camping at the Fontana Lodge Campground, and got creative with the food this week--they even had a dessert cook-off!

A hard day's work deserves a good dessert!
An inviting stretch of the future AT, brought to you by Crew 1.
Crew 1 looking to the future of the Appalachian Trail.

Crew 2: Another great week in Georgia!

Crew 2 at Neel Gap!
To avoid the long drive back to Konnarock Base Camp, Crew 2 stayed in Georgia for their days off between weeks 2 and 3. They enjoyed some well-earned rest and relaxation at the R Ranch, were treated to a river party at the home of GATC members Tom and Vivian Lamb, and did a bit of sightseeing and geocaching. The GATC really showed Konnarock the meaning of "southern hospitality"!

Investigating a geocache.

Crumbsnatcher looking toward the AT from Brasstown Bald.

On Thursday the Crew was back at it, working side-by-side with the many dedicated members of the GATC who came out every day. With their help, Crew 2 built an incredible 87 rock steps and 4 waterbars during their two weeks in Georgia!

The GATC and the Mountain High Hikers aren't afraid of BIG rocks!
GATC members even participated in the morning stretch circle!

This stretch of trail won't wash away any time soon.
Crew 2, with new GATC friends!