Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Week 1: April 24- May 1, 2016

Crew 1: A.T. Spur to Quebec Branch Rehab

working with Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club in Southwest Virginia
Click here for full photo album.
Report from Assistant Crew Leader Brian Allgood:

Week One for Crew One was spent rehabilitating two sections of trail in the scenic Grayson Highlands of Southwest Virginia, not too far from Base Camp. This work was much needed in this area considering the heavy usage not only by hikers, but also the famous ponies that roam the balds. 

The first three days were spent on a section just north of Massie Gap. The crew worked hard installing check steps and water bars to solve drainage issues and fixed many sections of "braided" trail resulting from the heavy traffic. By the time the job was done, it looked like a different trail – smooth, flowing, and a pleasure to walk. 

At the end of the third day, the crew took a side venture into the hills of Ashe County, NC for some pizza and music. Four large pizzas at Pie on the Mountain were no obstacle for the eight crew members after three days in the field. Afterwards, we drove further back into the hills to Phipp's Store where locals gather on Friday nights to pick bluegrass and socialize. While the boys picked, crew members enjoyed hearing stories from the locals and seeing the old timey relics and posters around the store.

The next morning, the crew headed for higher ground south of Massie Gap for some more rock work. Some truly massive rocks were moved to be set in as steps. In fact, moving one behemoth required the help of the entire crew! Another good day's work was put in while enjoying the far-reaching views into Virginia and North Carolina. The view early that morning was particularly special since the valley below was covered in several layers of fog. The clouds grew heavier all day, but this actually made for great working conditions. Thankfully, it waited until we got to back to camp to rain. Conditions were a little soggy the final morning, but did not dampen the spirits of the Konnarock Crew. The crew tied up all the loose ends from the previous day and headed off the mountain.

Everyone was surprised and pleased by the amount of work that was accomplished in such a short amount of time. It shouldn’t be a surprise, though, considering the excellent weather and the all-star cast of many longtime Konnarock veterans. Even the less experienced folks seemed as though they had been doing trail work for years. What a successful start to the 2016 season!

Crew 2: Highcock Knob Relocation
working with Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club in Central Virginia

Click here for full photo album.

Report from Assistant Crew Leader Justin Farrell:

Kicking off the first week for Crew 2 was a trip to Highcock Knob in Virginia, working with the folks from Natural Bridge A.T. Club. We had an interesting but excited mix of crew members, ranging from long time trail workers to first time backcountry campers. 

Thanks to the Forest Service and the recommendation of the club, we were allowed to stay at a beautiful campsite named “Watson’s Pond”, which was just a short drive from our worksite along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Each night the crew was serenaded by bullfrogs, which made for a happy, early rising, well rested crew in the morning. 

The hike in to the worksite was a long, tough, uphill climb, followed by a shorter, steep downhill. That descent was where the work was to be done: putting in a switchback that will replace the treacherous climb up for the hikers heading southbound, or the dangerous rock slide down for hikers heading northbound. Our trail work varied as the land did, ranging from digging sidehill to building rock steps and crib walls. 

As the trail work varied, so did our tools. Several members of the crew were given the opportunity to use specialty tools such as the rifting set and rock chisels. Although the bedrock prevailed in most cases, the crew still had a blast learning how to use tools that most people don’t ever have the chance to use. 

Dave and Justin, Crew Leader and Assistant Crew Leader, respectively, made a mid-week stop for water which just conveniently happened to be adjacent to Cave Mountain Lake! The crew thoroughly enjoyed taking time after a long, sweaty work day to take a quick dip in the cool fresh water, followed by long bask in the evening sun. A couple of volunteers even used the nearby bath house to clean up in hot running water, a pleasant rarity during the work week.  

The lovely Natural Bridge Club spoiled us with a feast of fried chicken and delectable sides such as potato salad, chickpea salad, coleslaw, and fruit salad. One member of the crew put hot sauce on their fried chicken, and the rest of the crew had to follow en suite. By the end of dinner, we had almost gone through an entire bottle of hot sauce! To cool of our sizzling tongues, the generous club also brought ice cream and homemade brownies, and after gorging our gluttonous appetites, the crew was quick to bed. 

Crew 2,  with the help of the club, was able to put quality trail in otherwise tough terrain, and got the year started off on a good foot. 

One can only hope that the rest of the weeks will be as enjoyable and productive as the week we had! Thank you crew 2! OW!

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