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!


Matthewlee said...

I realize this is a couple years old, but the pond mentioned, Watson's Pond... is that this?:

If so, any info about it? I've been up the road that this branches off of before but never saw an indication of the pond.

Konnarock Crew said...

Yep, you found it! It is behind a locked gate, on Forest Service land. So you can't drive to it, but it gets some use as a campsite for horseback riders and hunters. It's a pretty spot, but can be buggy in the summer!