This post comes to us from Jeremiah “Jay” Roy, a member of ATC's inaugural Conservation Leadership Corps (CLC). The CLC provides valuable training and work experience to 18- to 25-year-olds who are new to the outdoors by offering professional development in the fields of natural resource and trail management. These young and diverse conservation leaders had never stepped foot on the A.T. before joining us this summer!
Konnarock: The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s oldest and best-known trail crew. Where do I even start to describe our experience with this historic band of Trail maintainers? After orientation and training at Wilderness Skills Institute, Konnarock was the CLC’s first real chance to put our new skills to the test. For me, Konnarock was a mixture of pleasant camping and intense work. Our crew was given the task of beginning a large relocation project to move the Appalachian Trail away from private land susceptible to development on Seng Ridge, along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina.
After what would become our morning ritual for the next few days, a one-mile uphill hike to our work site, we spent the first day mapping out and walking the route of our relocated trail, an estimated mile or so to help redirect the A.T. and create a less steep and erosion-prone section. The hike to map out the relocation wasn’t easy, as we walked through thorny vines that grabbed our ankles with every step. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?!
Thorny vines aside, I enjoyed working with Jerry and Brian, our crew leaders for the week. Jerry was an outstanding leader, whose high expectations we managed to surpass. We built 1440 feet of new sidehill tread with the help of some extremely experienced volunteers from the Carolina Mountain Club, and cleared over 1700 feet of corridor.
As a thank you from CMC, the whole crew got to go to an all-you-can-eat buffet. You know I was more than happy after a week of hard work and camp food! We also got to go on a mini hike to Black Top Rock to watch the sunset, which was truly amazing. On our last day, after we packed up the campsite, we went to see the Appalachian Caverns, an amazing system of caves running underneath northern Tennessee, and I had one of the best burgers of my LIFE at the famous Burger Bar in Bristol - delicious is not a word genuine enough to describe the taste of that sandwich!
Thinking about volunteering with Konnarock? You should know that you’re going to get dirty and work hard. You’ll wear kneepads, a hard hat, safety glasses, gloves, and look fly while you do it. You’ll build up your body to build some Trail. And you’ll make memories that you’ll never forget. Shout out to all the Konnarock crew leaders - Justin, Jerry, Brian and Dave - you guys were the coolest!
Conservation Leadership Corps 2016
Hails from: New Orleans, LA
Studies at: University of New Orleans
Intended major: Business Administration
Dream job: CEO of Groundwork USA
Favorite CLC moment: Climbing to the top of the peaks of mountains that the AT runs through and having that sense that anything is possible through endurance and proper motivation. I loved meeting everyone and having such a wonderful experience. My favorite moment was a series of moments during Wilderness Skills Institute. The energy was ecstatic and opening. A life experience that has changed me completely and I will never forget.