Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Week 3: May 13-17, 2016

Crew 1: South of Scales Rehab
working with Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club with the help of Hardcore and Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club.

Click here for the full photo album.
From Assistant Crew Leader Brian Allgood:

Week Three for Crew One was not just any ordinary week. This week the Konnarock Crew hosted Hardcore, a Trail Days event in which hikers can sign up to participate in two days of trail work.

Traditionally, this event has been led by Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club, but was handed over to Konnarock this year since no large scale work requiring serious man power was needed in Eastman’s section this year. This is largely due to Hardcore’s good works in that section over the past 15 years.

That being said, the extra hands were greatly appreciated and vital in rehabilitating this year’s chosen section because it was in need of some serious work! 

The work took place in Konnarock’s home stretch of A.T. in the Mount Rogers High Country, just south of Scales. The trail was badly braided, heavily eroded, and deeply gullied. Heavy foot, pony, and cattle traffic as well as a relatively higher level of precipitation and lack of trees are all contributing factors to trail erosion in this sensitive area. 

The goal was to bring the tread level up and to prevent further erosion by installing both rock and log steps, check steps, water bars, and grade dips. The braiding problem would be fixed by junking up social trails with rocks, debris, and transplanted blueberry bushes to discourage traffic of any kind.

The crew spent the first two official work days setting the stage for the event. This included flagging where steps would be installed, scouring the area for suitable rock, and then rolling, hopping, or carrying the rocks to their designated locations to be installed over the course of the following two days by Hardcore. The black locust logs, which had been cut during the two “off days” prior by especially committed volunteers and staff, were also carried up to their designated sites.

 Special thanks goes out to Evan Blevins and Stephen Hmurciak of the US Forest Service (Mount Rogers NRA) for hauling in 4 tons of gravel and enough black locust logs to build 84 steps!

These were very labor intensive days because heavy materials were being moved all day with little down time. In addition to all of this strenuous prep-work, the kitchen tarp had to be re-pitched three different times after being blown over by the especially high winds this week. That in itself was a difficult task!

The crew this week was no ordinary crew, and this was no mistake. Some of the most highly skilled and experienced Konnarock veterans were recruited for the event to act as crew leaders. Each crew member was given a section of trail and was in charge of leading a group of 4-6 Hardcore volunteers to complete the work in their designated section. 

The Hardcore volunteers consisted of mostly current and former thru-hikers with varying levels of trail building experience. The less experienced folks were able to acquire new skills while experiencing firsthand what actually goes into quality trail work. Many of the Hardcore alumni even reported learning something new!

Although very cold, windy, and sometimes rainy during the preliminary work days the weather slowly cleared and warmed allowing for the project to go off without a hitch. Everyone was able to celebrate back down at basecamp with home cooked barbecue prepared by our amazing camp coordinator, Janet, with the help of members of Mount Rogers A.T. Club. They definitely worked at least as hard if not harder than the actual crew during this project! A special thank you goes out to them.


At the end of it all, an incredible amount of work was accomplished. About a quarter-mile of trail was completely transformed. The high quality of the work is the perhaps the most impressive part of this job considering the large scale, varied levels of volunteer experience, and short amount of time spent on the project. 

This simply would not have been possible without the help and guidance of our beloved Konnarock veterans. Thanks guys, you really stepped it up on this one! A huge thanks also goes out to Tennessee Eastman, Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club, the U.S. Forest Service, and all who took the time to volunteer this week. The hard work that was put into this event, both behind the scenes and on the ground, will pay off for many years to come.





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