Monday, September 9, 2013

Week 12: August 1-5, 2013

Bluff City Supercrew!!

The crew hard at work on the bluff.
For the last week of the 2013 season, the Konnarock Crew went BIG: Big Project, Big Crew, and Big Fun!

First, the Big Project: the Bluff City Relocation near Pearisburg, VA is one of the most technical projects Konnarock has tackled in recent memory. In order to get the trail off of the road, it has to wrap around a rocky bluff on a steep slope.

It's a long way down to the houses below, so the crew working on the bluff wore climbing harnesses and clipped themselves and their tools onto a safety rope.

Handling the gas-powered rock drill is a two-person job!
Using a rock drill, sledgehammers, and every rock tool in the Konnarock arsenal, they removed enough rock to create a three-foot-wide tread along the bluff. All the pieces of rock that were removed had to be carefully carried away from the bluff using a griphoist highline system, lest they roll down the hill and damage the houses below.

Assistant Crew Leader Zack Finney (in white hardhat) is standing on the future A.T.
The rock protrudes from the bluff in vertical fins, so there are gaps between each place where the crew was able to carve out a trail. To bridge the gap, the crew constructed a mighty stone crib wall.

Crew Leader Bobby Berry, who led operations on the bluff, was really pleased with how well the work went!

Masters of rockwork with an impressive crib wall on the bluff. 
Next, the Big Crew: this week Crew 1 and Crew 2 joined forces to become one incredible SUPERCREW! Because of the technical nature of this work, ATC put a call out for the most experienced and skilled Konnarock alumni to help out on this special project. Those who could answered the call, and formed a big crew with even bigger talent! They were joined by several members of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club and two Forest Service employees, including Dispersed Recreation Technician Jonathan Wheeler.

High-fives for a solid crib wall!
Back to the Big Project: there isn't enough room on the bluff for the entire Supercrew to work safely, so the rest of the crew focused on building trail from the Angels Rest trailhead back towards the bluff. This part of the project was optimistically called the "Sidehill Crew".

At the beginning of the week there was some sidehill trail to be dug, but the closer the crew got to the bluff the more bedrock began to get in the way. The "Sidehill Crew" wound up doing as much rock work as the Bluff Crew, albeit without the ropes, cables, and super-steep terrain.

A 14-foot-long crib wall built by the "Sidehill Crew".
This crew also found they needed to build several crib walls to support the trail in between hunks of bedrock.

There is an art to building a durable, stable (dare we say beautiful?) rock crib wall. It takes critical thinking, teamwork, and above all patience to figure out how to make a bunch of lumpy, weirdly-shaped rocks fit together like bricks. Fortunately, the Supercrew was up to the task!

Rifting a rock so it will fit into the foundation of a crib wall.

The typical A.T. thru-hiker hustling into Pearisburg might be too busy thinking about what to get at Dairy Queen to notice these crib walls. But those who take the time to look will see the masterful work of Konnarock's best and brightest!

Now on to the Big Fun! When the rock-busting and wall-building was over, the crew had a great time back at camp around the campfire...but the highlight of the week for everyone was the Corn Boil.

Konnarock Crew members digging in at the Corn Boil!
This relocation is on the section of the AT maintained by the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC), and the club showed their appreciation by inviting the crew to their biggest social event of the year, the Corn Boil. More than just corn, this festive potluck featured a smorgasbord of home-cooked delicacies and a great chance to meet the club members who care for the trail year-round! 

The Big Fun wasn't over when the crew headed back to Base Camp, but you'll have to stay tuned for the next blog post to hear about the End-Of-Season Party and the heroes who stuck around to help clean up Base Camp. Suffice it to say, a Supercrew week at Bluff City was a festive and productive way to wrap up a great season of hard work and good times on the Konnarock Crew. 

A fantastic spread at the Corn Boil.
Thank you to everyone--the volunteers, staff, club members, and agency partners who helped make the 2013 Konnarock Crew season such a success!

Relaxing at camp after a good day's work.

The bluff worksite, ready for next year's crew.

When you need to move a lot of rocks, it's smart to work in a team!

It goes without saying that Crumbsnatcher was a critical member of this talented crew.
The folks who worked on the "Sidehill Crew" the last day, with some of the cribbing they built.

The entire Supercrew, in great spirits after the Corn Boil!


Chris W. said...

Can we "steal" some of these photos for the RATC website?

Konnarock Crew said...

Of course! Steal away. :-)