Friday, August 23, 2013

Week 10: July 18-22, 2013

Crew 1: New River Relocation

Building a step around a large, embedded boulder.
Crew 1 headed north this week, to work on the ever-interesting New River Relocation. This ambitious 5-mile relocation will eventually move the AT off of private land near Pearisburg, VA, ensuring that it remains in a protected, wooded corridor in perpetuity.

Building a durable trail takes attention to detail!
Volunteers who have worked on this project in the past will be excited to hear how much progress Konnarock is making this year! This was the fourth of 5 weeks set aside to work on the New River Relo in 2013, and it is now less than half a mile from the end of the constructed trail to the beautiful views on Rice Field. Between the Konnarock Crew and Outdoor Club of Virginia Tech (OCVT), a staggering number of dedicated volunteers have helped to get this project so close to the top of the mountain!

An impressive amount of cribbing and crushed rock.
Peters Mountain does not make trail construction easy, though: the higher the crew gets on the mountain, the more rocks we find! Some crew members were surprised to find large rocks embedded in the ground where they tried to dig, while others began to build a trail across a field of medium-sized rocks. Crew Leaders Bobby Berry and Zack Finney helped the crew find creative ways to build a trail around and through these obstacles.
Relaxing on the banks of the New River.
The crew celebrated their hard work by heading down to the New River one night, for a chance to take a dip and eat dinner by the river. Crew 1 is heading back to New River for one more week: tune in here to see what they accomplish!

Dinner by the river--is this a meeting of the Clean Plate Club?

Crew 2: Rocky Fork Relocation

Climbing up to the work site from Flint Gap, on the NC/TN border.

Crew 2 tackled another big AT relocation: the Rocky Fork project. When completed, this relocation will move the trail off of an eroded former logging road that is frequently misused by ATVs. You can read about the conservation triumph that made the Rocky Fork Relocation possible  here!

Digging on the ridge!

The big event of the week was rounding the corner onto Snake Den Ridge. For the previous two weeks, the crew was digging on a steep slope in a tangle of rhododendrons. Completing the trail where it wraps around the corner and will follow the top of the ridge means easier digging and the cool mountain breezes that are only found on a ridgeline. The views will be great up here in the winter!

Volunteers from the Carolina Mountain Club's Friday crew came out one more time to help pull some mighty stumps with the griphoist and clear out the corridor along the ridge. They also treated the crew to a fabulous pizza dinner in Erwin!

This Slimy Salamander was carefully relocated.
The Rocky Fork area is a Temperate Rain Forest, which meant the crew had to get used to summer thunderstorms passing through. But it also meant they got to see mushrooms in every color of the rainbow, and an abundance of salamanders. Thanks for the memories, Rocky Fork! See you next year...
Jumping in the swimming hole at Rocky Fork!
Rounding the corner to the top of the ridge! Anyone who has worked on this project knows what a big milestone this is!

Trailside mushrooms.
A game of PELT back at camp.

Beautiful morning rays on the hike to the work site.

Way to go Crew 2!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Week 9: July 11-15, 2013

Crew 1: Little Rock Knob, TN

Crumbsnatcher the AT Shelter Mouse worked with Crew 1 this week.

The Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club is relocating badly eroded sections of the AT across Little Rock Knob. For the second week this season, Crew 1 headed down to Tennessee with a truck full of gear and a van full of energetic volunteers to give them a hand!

The dedicated trail maintainers of TEHCC brought their considerable know-how and muscle to the project each day, working side by side with the Konnarock Crew. Projects with TEHCC are always popular, because Konnarock alumni know how much fun these guys are to work with!

Setting up a 5:1 pulley to get this big stump out of the way. 

The crew chopped and pulled out some mighty big stumps, and built cribbing from rocks and logs to support the trail. Thanks for all your great work, Crew 1!
Yanking that stump out of the ground--that's what we call People Power!
Cute little red efts were all over the place.


A beautiful day to dig in the dirt!

A carefully constructed crib wall, as seen from below the trail.

Two thumbs up for the new trail! (Well, at least one.)

Crumbsnatcher meeting one of her heroes: legendary trail maintainer/hostel owner Bob Peoples.

Crew 1 with a job well done!

Crew 2: Rocky Fork Relocation

 Crew 1 wasn't the only crew pulling stumps, chopping roots, and getting to work alongside seasoned trail maintainers! Crew 2 went back to the NC/TN line for another great week building the Rocky Fork Relocation.

The weather was more cooperative than the previous week, so the Carolina Mountain Club's Friday Crew made their way up to the ridge to help Crew 2 pull stumps and dig trail. The Konnarock Crew enjoyed working alongside some incredible veterans of trail maintenance--including Lew Blodgett, who is 90 years old!

The CMC also treated Crew 2 to another delicious pizza dinner in Erwin, TN! On the way into Erwin, the crew stopped by the beautiful Rocky Fork Creek that gives this project its name. Who needs showers, when you can take a refreshing dip in a classic Appalachian swimming hole?

Crew 2 headed back to Virginia with a lot of great memories, and maybe a little dirt under their fingernails. With one more week to go at Rocky Fork this year, Konnarock is making progress on this big relocation project!

Pulling out a big stump with the griphoist.
Proud stump-pulling crew.

Digging in the first day!

Dinnertime back at camp.

Evening sky near the crew's campsite.


Stretching at Flint Mountain Shelter.

Crew 2, on the trail they built!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Week 8: July 4-8, 2013

Crew 1: Thunder Ridge Relocation

Crew 1 took a drive up the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway to work on the Thunder Ridge Relocation in Virginia.

Winding through a lush forest dotted with giant boulders, the new trail they built will be further from the noise of traffic on the Parkway and less prone to erosion. The crew enjoyed working with dedicated members of the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club, who came out to help every day!

The light, fluffy soil in this area makes for easier digging than we find on most Konnarock projects, but the large boulders in the landscape kept things interesting for our intrepid trailbuilders.The stone steps and cribbing built Week 8 will last many years as monuments to the crew's hard work and ingenuity.

It takes a little creativity to build a trail around boulders this size!

Crew 1 enjoyed camping near a small spring-fed pond and driving a few miles down the Blue Ridge Parkway to the work site every day, with great views of Arnold Valley. At the end of the workday, they often splashed around in the creek below Fallingwaters Cascade, and the NBATC provided a great thank-you barbecue Sunday night. Crew 2 is looking forward to working on this project Week 11!

Enjoying a view of Arnold Valley.
Camping with Konnarock isn't exactly "roughing it".
Watson's Pond, where the crew camped.

Another spectacular morning on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
A sneak peek of the future Appalachian Trail!

The sweeping view from the overlook on the AT near Thunder Ridge.


Crew 2: Rocky Fork Relocation

Crew 2 with log cribbing they built this week!

Crew 2 kicked off the first of three weeks Konnarock is devoting to the Rocky Fork Relocation this year.

Hugging the NC-TN line, the Rocky Fork project is one of the last major relocations currently planned for the southern AT. It is made possible by the recent 10,000-acre Rocky Fork land acquisition, a huge conservation success led by the ATC in partnership with the USFS and nearly 40 local, regional, and national organizations.

To find out more about the Rocky Fork land acquisition, check out this article from the January-February issue of Appalachian Trail Journeys magazine!

Spotted wintergreen, one of many wildflowers to "spot" at Rocky Fork!

The Rocky Fork relocation will move the AT off a steep, rutted logging road that is prone to misuse by ATVs, and onto a sustainable, narrow footpath. That ideal sidehill trail doesn't build itself, though! It takes a lot of hard work, but Crew 2 was up to the challenge. After dealing with a literal roadblock (a tree across the road), Crew 2 got down and dirty blazing a trail through the rhododendrons that will be a serene woods walk for generations of hikers.

This tree had to be cut for the crew to get to the work site.
A rainy forecast on Friday meant the Carolina Mountain Club (CMC) couldn't come out to work with the Konnarock Crew this week, but they showed their appreciation in another meaningful way: PIZZA! After a few nights in the woods, the crew really enjoyed a hot meal in Erwin, TN courtesy of the CMC. No one minded watching a thunderstorm pass through from the relative comfort of the pizza parlor, either. Thank you CMC!

Just because we're in the woods doesn't mean we can't celebrate the 4th of July!

Stretching at Flint Mountain Shelter.
Cheez-its keep Crumbsnatcher going.
Crew 2, happily full of pizza!