Monday, August 11, 2014

Weeks 2 & 3: May 15-19, & May 23-27

Weeks 2 & 3: May 15-19, & May 23-27, 2014

Crew 1: Grassy Gap Relocation in Georgia

Impressive log cribbing with the team that built it.
A two-week Konnarock project in Georgia in the spring has become something of a tradition for the Konnarock Crew in recent years--and like any great tradition it gets more popular as the years go by!

Because the crew has to travel so far from Base Camp for this project, we need volunteers who are willing to work two weeks back-to back. Despite this major time commitment, many alumni crew members requested the Georgia project and signed up early.
Why is the Georgia project a perennial favorite? Here's a countdown of the top 3 reasons!

#3: North Georgia is a wild wonderland!
The inviting Georgia A.T...
As A.T. hikers know, the Georgia mountains are gorgeous--especially in the spring, when the waterfalls are gushing and the forest is festooned with wildflowers. To avoid a long drive back to Base Camp, the crew stayed in Georgia for the three days off between weeks 2 and 3--which gave them plenty of time to rest up and explore! They used their days off to visit Amicalola Falls near the A.T.'s southern terminus on Springer Mountain, Neel Gap, and Brasstown Bald--the high point of Georgia!

Building a rock crib wall around a tricky hunk of bedrock.
 #2 Work To Be Proud Of
The rugged Georgia A.T. gets hit hard each spring by crowds of aspiring thru-hikers, so it needs a lot of T.L.C. Fortunately, the volunteers of the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club (GATC) work hard year-round to keep the Trail in great shape, and they rally each spring to help Konnarock accomplish the major Trail improvements they have planned.

This year's Georgia project was the Grassy Gap Relocation. Due to new development within view of the Trail, about half a mile of the A.T. near Suches, GA is being relocated. GATC volunteers came out in great numbers to work alongside the Konnarock Crew each day, digging new sidehill trail out of a steep slope and building impressive stone and log structures around obstacles like bedrock and giant tree roots.

The satisfied crib wall crew with their finished tread!
With two work weeks and lots of help from GATC members, the Konnarock Crew made truly satisfying progress on this relocation: they built all but 600 feet of the relocation! The new trail includes about 60 cubic feet of crib walls, 11 steps and 4 waterbars for drainage. GATC continues to work on this project and expects to open the new trail soon!

Chowing down at the end-of-week party!
And the #1 reason Konnarock alumni keep coming back to Georgia...

Southern Hospitality!

Not only does the GATC come out to work with the Konnarock Crew, they really show their appreciation for the crew's hard work. For the fourth year in a row, Tom and Vivian Lamb hosted the crew for an end-of week party complete with great food, a campfire, and live local bluegrass music (extremely local--the Lambs have some talented neighbors!). GATC member Tom Ottinger opened his doors to the crew and let them clean up, rest, and recover at his home on their days off. It takes a special kind of person to open his doors to 12 strangers after they've spent 5 days digging in the mud and camping!

Thank you, GATC, for making Crew 1's two weeks in Georgia so festive and memorable!

And many thanks to the great crew of Konnarock volunteers who found 2 weeks to give back to the A.T.!
Drying out all the tents in Tom Ottinger's yard.

Scroll down for a few more Georgia photos, and to find out what Crew 2 was up to.

And to see all of Crew 1's photos from Weeks 2 & 3 in Georgia, visit the album on ATC's flickr page.

Yanking out a stump with the griphoist!
Dinnertime in camp.


Two weeks together can make the crew silly...
Improvised trash-bag rain poncho.

The whole Georgia crew!

Meanwhile, in Virginia, Crew 2 was making A.T. history!


Crew 2: New River Relocation

Digging in Week 2.
Crew 2 also spent Weeks 2 & 3 building an A.T. relocation, but they had an ambitious deadline to strive for.

For the past 8 summers, Konnarock has been working on one of the largest, most critical relocation projects on the Trail: the New River Relocation. The purpose of this 5.7 mile relocation between the New River and Rice Field Shelter north of Pearisburg, VA, is to move 1.2 miles of the Trail off of privately owned land and on to a scenic corridor where it will remain protected from development.
Week 2: Log steps to stabilize a steep spot.

This year the project took a huge leap forward thanks to a donated easement from the Celanese Corporation, help from the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, a generous donation from Columbia Natural Gas, and a massive effort from local A.T. volunteers over the winter and spring. Thanks to those partners and the many work days of volunteers from the Outdoor Club at Virginia Tech (OCVT), Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC), Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club (NBATC), and the A.T. Communities™ of Pearisburg and Narrows, the relocation was almost ready to be opened to hikers this spring!

Crew Leader Bobby Berry pounds in a wooden stake!

Why all the hurry? To convert the Celanese plant in Pearisburg to cleaner-burning natural gas, a pipeline is being built that will cross the A.T.'s former location on Celanese property. In order to get the northbound thru-hikers out of the construction zone, the relocation had to be opened June 1.

All that remained to be built was about 1,000 feet of EXTREMELY steep sidehill trail. This was tough digging, with huge stumps to pull, lots of steps to install to stabilize the steeper sections, and massive amounts of earth to move with primitive tools. 


Giles County local John Appelquist attacks a stump.

Fortunately, the Week 2 and 3 crews were EXTREMELY tough, and ready for the challenge! Through rain and shine and roots and rocks, they pushed on and built the final connector of the whole relocation, the culmination of over 30 years of efforts to locate the Trail in a protected corridor near the New River!

The New River Relocation opened to hikers right on time: June 1, 2014. Less than 1% of the whole A.T. is now located on unprotected private land. For more background on this historic triumph of A.T. conservation, click here to view the latest issue of A.T. Journeys magazine.

This is now the Appalachian Trail!
Crew 2's weeks at New River weren't all mud-slinging and stump-pulling, though. The A.T. Communities of Pearisburg and Narrows gave the crews an extremely warm welcome to beautiful Giles County. 

Week 2, the Town of Pearisburg sponsored a cookout for the crew at Whitt Riverbend Park alongside the New River. The Crew enjoyed meeting locals from this official A.T. Community who had helped build the relocation, relaxing alongside the river, and feasting on hot dogs and hamburgers!

Ralph Robertson from Narrows came out to work with the crew!
Week 3, the Narrows Now Trail Club from the A.T. Community™ of Narrows, VA hosted the Crew at a picnic alongside Wolf Creek in downtown Narrows. The crew had a great time jumping in Wolf Creek to clean up and cool off, and meeting members of an enthusiastic new trail club in this picturesque small town.

Many thanks to all the volunteers who lent their sweat and muscle to get the relocation opened, and much thanks to the communities of Giles County for their support!
Please scroll down for photos from Week 3.

To see all of the photos from Crew 2 Week 2, click here.

And for the whole photo album from Crew 2 Week 3, click here.

Week 2's Crew 2 at the New River Relocation!

Week 3's cozy field camp.
Crumbsnatcher the A.T. Shelter Mouse has a new tent!

All smiles digging into a steep slope.

Solid new trail, built to last.
Break time!

Game of PELT at the Narrows picnic.

Ribbon cutting for the new trail Week 3! GREAT WORK, CREW 2!!