Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Week 2: May 5-9, 2016

Crew 1: South of Stecoah Gap Rehab

working with Smoky Mountain Hiking Club at the southern end of the Smokies

Click here for the complete photo album.

Report from Assistant Crew Leader Brian Allgood:

Week Two for Crew One was spent rehabilitating a section of trail south of Stecoah Gap, NC. Over the years, the trail had eroded in a few places creating steep, rocky, root-covered ledges.

These spots posed safety hazards to hikers especially in wet weather. In fact, a local doing trail magic at the gap warned us of these unsafe conditions mentioning that several hikers had slipped and fallen earlier that day. Not surprising considering the rain that had been falling off and on all day.

Luckily, the only cold wet weather we would experience on this project would be on the long drive down and hiking in the tools. It was cold enough that the higher peaks could be seen with a light dusting of snow and rime ice - “blackberry winter” indeed. The crew arose the following morning (and every morning) to the tune of “Reveille” compliments of Konnarock veteran, “Cool Breeze”, on his pennywhistle.

The hike up to the project was steep, but also very rewarding given the vast display of spring wildflowers along the way.

 After forming a solid game plan, the crew got right to work on building log crib steps to remedy to the problems created by the steep ledges.

These structures needed to be fairly substantial since the ledges were around 30 inches high. This posed some challenges because suitable black locust trees, the best timber for building materials, could only be found ¼ mile up a fairly steep grade. Not only that, but rocks for making crush were also scarce. However, with good team work and drag slings the crew was able to get materials down to the site in no time. An assembly line was formed of timber cutting, log dragging, bark skinning, and crush making while others placed, pinned, and staked logs. Crew members were able to switch jobs regularly to give everyone a chance to experience each task.

The crew was rewarded with a good ol’ southern dinner at Lynn’s diner in Robbinsville on Saturday night by the kind folks of the Smokey Mountain Hiking Club.

Refueled by the fine meal the previous night, part of the crew put the finishing touches on the log crib structures while others moved further down to work on grade dips and redefining tread. After that, the crew moved down the trail to begin work on fixing a series of log steps on a steep grade. Every volunteer was able to help in placing steps. A good dent was made on this phase of the project and will be completed when the crew returns in two weeks.

 Everyone was proud of the end results as they should have been! The work accomplished this week felt especially rewarding since the structures that were installed make the trail considerably safer. Another successful week for Crew One!

Crew 2: Justus Mountain Relocation

For this special 2-week Georgia project, the crew did not return to Base Camp until the end of Week 3. See the next blog post for all the details about both weeks in Georgia!

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