Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Week 12: August 8-12, 2015

Crew 1: Swim Bald Relocation with Smoky Mountain Hiking Club

From Assistant Crew Leader Davis Wax:

For their final week of the season, Crew 1 returned to Swim Bald to finish the 1200-foot relocation they began last week. After week eleven, the crew had almost 500 feet of new sidehill to build and a number of log structures to install. They certainly had their work cut out for them.

Along to help with the ambitious workload were 19-season Konnarock veteran Billy Williams, 10-season alum Leah Bradley of Wisconsin's Ice Age Trail Association and first-time volunteer Ron Gregory -- the last two back again for a consecutive week at this North Carolina project.

Franklin LaFond, aka "Ox", came out to meet and work with the crew again. Representing the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club, Ox brought the crew more special food for the volunteers -- including biscuits and gravy -- and worked alongside Crew 1 each day to help finish the project.

A.T. Shelter Mouse Crumbsnatcher also made an appearance during both weeks at Swim Bald. She helped dig out stumps for clearing the new corridor for the trail and dug sidehill with the crew, pointing out some of the tricks to smoothing out new tread and broadcasting soil downhill.

Altogether the crew dug 480 feet of new sidehill, tying the new trail into current A.T. They also installed five log steps and 15 cubic feet of log cribbing, filling behind those structures with 24 cubic feet of crush. Crew 1 also had to close off over 400 feet of the old trail in order to send hikers down the new, better-graded section, throwing in brush and check dams to slow down future water erosion. All of this work was accomplished despite the back-and-forth threat and then eventual downpour of rain. Thanks week twelve volunteers for sticking it out through the sometimes muddy mess!

When the crew wasn't working they hiked up to Cheoh Bald for the sunset, played the card game Werewolf, played word games, and set up a card trick corner in camp. The crew also made s'mores on the camp stove and experimented with tahini sauce in one of their pasta meals.

With the combined efforts of Konnarock volunteers and the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club, the Swim Bald Relocation was completed! The crew had an official ribbon-cutting with the help of Crumbsnatcher which signaled the opening of the new piece of trail. Thank you everyone on Crew 1 for your help during weeks eleven and twelve and thank you Ox for your awesome support throughout this project!

It's been real, Crew 1. Thanks for all the great work, fun times, and endless memories made this summer -- you made 2015 a Konnarock season we will not soon forget. Come back and see us in 2016!

Crew 2: Bluff City Relocation with Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club

From Assistant Crew Leader Sarah Ford:
Our final week was such a success! The group had a wonderful time and clicked from the get go, which makes for a wonderful time for everyone. 

This week at Bluff City was full of many different projects including grip hoisting stumps, jack hammering, rock drilling, digging side hill, and doing finishing touches on all the parts in between. 

With all working together, the trail really came together and resembled an actual trail by the end of it all. Bluff City relocation should be finished in the next year- a long awaited completion. 

During the mid week, we all decided to head to the bottom of the mountain for some well deserved Mexican food. On the small excursion, two kittens and a groundhog were spotted in the grass playing together. It’s not every day you see things like that! We also went swimming a couple times at the New River in order to feel a little more human after an exhausting day of work. One day we spotted another strange thing- a man walking his two dogs and his goat. We all got a good laugh and pictures
out of that. Thank you again week 12 volunteers for all the work, laughs, and memories made!

Week 11: July 31-August 4, 2015

Crew 1: Swim Bald Relocation with Smoky Mountain Hiking Club

Crew 1 revisited the southern region of the A.T. for their last two weeks, working on a relocation of the trail south of Swim Bald in North Carolina in the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club's section of maintenance. Week Eleven turned out to be one of the fullest crew weeks of the season and drew a mixture of alumni and first-time volunteers who went on to build over 700 feet of new sidehill trail.

Clark Britt, a 5-year returnee to Konnarock and Leah Bradley, on her 10th year volunteering with the program, both joined the crew for the week, adding their expertise to the beginning process of relocating the trail. Christina Fontello returned for her second week this season and also aided the crew as a volunteer.

Franklin LaFond, aka "Ox", from the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club, met the crew on their first day of travel, camping and working with the crew for every day they were in the field. He brought extra food and desserts for the crew to enjoy and offered his trail wisdom and good humor for the duration of the week. 

Besides the new sidehill dug, the crew put in three cubic feet of log cribbing, 10 cubic feet of crush and fill, and 48 feet of drainage ditch. They also helped clear over 6000 feet of corridor for the new relocation.

When completed, this relocation will replace an extremely steep section of trail that is prone to erosion and difficult to maintain.

When the crew wasn't working, they hiked up to see the sunset at Cheoh Bald and hiked to the Jumpoff, a spot almost two miles from camp.

Crew 2: Bluff City Relocation with Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club

The full crew of volunteers made more progress than could have been anticipated at Bluff City this week! With four volunteers from George Mason University, and the other six from all parts of the country, we put in 10 rock steps, 15 square feet of cribbing, and removed 75 cubic feet of rock in the tread! All week the heavy jack hammer was running to remove bedrock that juts into the tread.

Volunteers Nathan and Spencer as well as club member John ran the jack hammer most of the week. Also, the grip hoist was brought out to remove another tree stump that lay in the back slope. The Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club accompanied Konnarock two days during the week to help dig side hill, run the CanyCom, and quarry rock for the remaining rock crib wall. This crew finally helped finish the steps and crib wall that ran around the rock bluff! This was a major accomplishment and something that has been long anticipated. 

During most evenings, our crew enjoyed playing werewolf, chess, uno and smores around a camp fire. The club also put on the annual Corn Boil with a massive feast. We all ate to our fill and then enjoyed a great game of PELT afterwards. Many thanks go to RATC for the great hospitality and smorgasboard of home-cooked summer delicacies.

Coming back to base camp with a great Mexican meal prepared by our base camp coordinator, Janet, finished off the week perfectly!

Week 10: July 23-27, 2015

Crew 2: Bluff City Relocation with RATC

During the tenth week of Konnarock, there was high anticipation to be out at Bluff City again. Konnarock has been working on this technical re-route for three years now and many are anxious to make headway on the project. Matt Ogden has been volunteering at this location since the beginning and we want to give him big thanks for coming out the rest of the season to help! 

Another special thanks goes out to David Youmans for joining Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC) last year after volunteering and joining us once again. That is not to down play our appreciation for the rest of our volunteers who delivered hard work- Hyesun Yi, Tracy Ledon-Retting, Rae Volante, Lytton Volante, and Holly Looper! It was a fun group of volunteers with great attitudes and great teamwork. 

RATC also had many members join us in the field each day to help run equipment, move large rocks, and dig sidehill tread on extremely steep terrain. Thank you everyone for the many hours of hard work.

As the trail winds around the bluff, where a rock crib wall and staircase are being built, there was a large tree stump in the middle of the tread. 

The grip hoist was used with pulleys to achieve a 6:1 ratio to pull the stump from the hard red clay and rocks. It held on for dear life- taking three-fourths of the day for several volunteers to finally let go from its hole. What a glorifying moment when it released and it was 5 o’clock on the dot. Quitting time has never felt so satisfying!

The town of Pearisburg also gets a big thank you for the over-the-top party thrown for the volunteers. We were greeted with a band, a swimming pool, balloons, and more food than we could eat at the Holiday Lodge. There is not much better than a nice cool pool to swim in after a long hot day of rock work! It was Holiday Lodge owner Micky Chavla's birthday, and his parents were in town from India for the celebration. The generosity and time spent planning the shindig was much appreciated by the crew.

Crew 1: New River Relocation with OCVT

Meanwhile, on the other side of the New River, Crew 1 was high up above Pearisburg on the crest of Peters Mountain working on Konnarock's final week of the season at the New River Relocation. The crew picked up where Crew 2 had left off earlier in the season, drilling and splitting off bedrock and moving large rocks to put into a crib wall and to install as steps. 

Crew 1's volunteers included Konnarock alumni Todd Delk, John Tatara, a volunteer with the ATC in Harper's Ferry, Lindsey Dunbar, a multi-week volunteer on her sixth and final week this summer, and many first-time crew participants. 

Before the work week could begin, the crew climbed up Peters Mountain two and half miles to the campsite near Rice Field Shelter. Crew 1 backpacked in any personal camping gear that couldn't fit in the 4WD truck which carried tools and food up a forest service road to where the crew would be camping.

The crew put in five rock steps and 72 cubic feet of rock cribbing while filling 125 cubic feet of crush in those structures. While these numbers may seem a bit low, all of the rockwork had to be installed on or next to bedrock which made the labor a little slow-going. One section required the crew to drill off a slab of bedrock in order for them to be able to continue building the trail through. 

The crew also finished 115 feet of new sidehill and cleared out 540 feet of corridor for future trail building as the New River Relo is worked towards completion next season.

When the crew wasn't working, they played hacky sack up near Rice Field. Here they also watched the sunset and stargazed and met long-distance hikers staying at the shelter. The crew played word games and had fun sharing their various experiences on the trail and outdoors.

Thanks Crew 1 for an awesome week of work and for bringing the New River Relo that much closer to finishing!