Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Week 12: July 30-August 3, 2016

Crew 1: Sinking Creek Mountain Relocation

working with Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club near Newport, Virginia

Click here for the complete photo album.

For the final week of the 2016 season, Crew One revisited Sinking Creek Mountain in Southwest Virginia to continue construction on a relocation near the top of the mountain.

Since the new trail is routed across several boulder fields, and the work in these spots is more tedious and technically challenging, the Crew has been focusing their efforts in these areas. This week, they certainly had the right team for the job.

All of the Crew consisted of alumni and included several current and former leaders on other trail crews: Leah Bradley of the Ice Age Trail, Billy Williams of the Mountains to Sea Trail, Artie Hidalgo of the Jolly Rovers Trail Crew, former Konnarock Assistant Crew Leader Davis Wax, and of course Clark Britt who has basically been the unpaid third crew leader on Crew One all season.

Also on the Crew were John Tatara, a 17 year Konnarock alumnus and volunteer at the ATC headquarters office in Harper's Ferry; plus Rachel Moses, Michael Arthur, and Steve and Joyce Hicks - all returning for their second or third year. Needless to say, a considerable and surprising amount of progress was made.

The week kicked off with Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club’s Corn Boil, an annual potluck of epic proportions where the Crew made sure to pack in as many calories as possible to fuel them through the week. The amount and variety of food that was served was downright amazing, not to mention delicious. A HUGE thanks goes out to RATC for inviting the Crew to their event, especially before they had accomplished any real work. Rest assured, they earned it over the next few days.

A gap had been left from week eight where a massive piece of slanted bedrock had been uncovered in the first boulder field leading up to a steep ledge covered in large tree roots. In order to build, the base of the structure would need to be pinned with rebar so the Crew had pack the hammer drill and generator up the mountain. They were lucky to have Davis, who was in the middle of a thru-hike, to pack the 50 lb. generator up the steep ascent.

This project in particular proved to be quite a technical challenge and required a great deal of rock shaping. Thankfully, Artie was willing to share his wisdom and knowledge with a few others throughout this project, and together they turned a mess into a masterpiece of a staircase.

A few other lingering projects from week eight needed to be tackled as well including installing some retaining gargoyles on a series of stone steps and finishing up an extensive crib wall.

The rest of the work took place in virgin territory, through the next two boulder fields. The trail was nearly completed through one, and a solid start was made on the other. As stated, no one imagined what a productive week it would be considering the nature of the work.

To aid progress, RATC showed their dedication as usual by making an appearance each day. Several folks from the Virginia Regional ATC Office in Roanoke also came out to help. A special thanks goes out to both parties as their expertise is always appreciated in the field.

Though the Crew worked hard this week, they also had plenty of fun around camp at Joe’s Trees Christmas tree farm feeding the farm animals and passing the time with good conversation with old friends. Thanks again to the folks at Joe’s Trees for letting the Crew use this wonderful spot.

On the way home, since the rain prevented the Crew from going swimming, they decided to have a bowling tournament in Blacksburg followed by lunch at Bull and Bones Brewhaus - not a bad way to end the week!

Thanks to the especially great group of folks who came out this week, whose unparalleled dedication and expertise made it possible for the Crew One to finish the season strong, and more importantly, injury free; and to all who took the time to volunteer this season to continue to make the A.T. what it is. Simply, the Trail would not exist without you all. It’s been a good one, see you next year!

Crew 2: Backbone Rock Relocation

working with Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club near the TN-VA state line

Click here for the complete photo album.

This week for Crew 2 was another returning project from earlier in the season at Backbone Rock in Tennessee. We were working with the Tennessee Eastman Club to relocate a very steep section of the trail that goes up at about a 50% grade, to a mellower, sustainable grade. 

This is one of the more physically tasking projects we have had this year, with the hike starting off with approximately 160 stairsteps, about a mile and a half up a ridge at a considerable grade, and the work for the day was constant sidehill digging. Crew 2 was whooped by the end of each of these days, but thankfully we had a reprieve from our sore muscles and bones in the form of a creek at the bottom of the mountain. This creek’s maximum occupancy was tested this week, since we had ten volunteers and two crew leaders that basked in it each day. 

Our campground was a special treat this week as well for a couple of reasons. There was an open field with a hill to watch the sunset and stars each night, there were blackberries ripe for the picking, and the sounds and sights of nature were abundant as well.

The Tennessee Eastman Club showed their appreciation for the volunteers with an infamous barbecue from one of their club members. We ate pulled pork sandwiches, macaroni salad, cole slaw, baked beans, and banana pudding. We also went into the town of Damascus one night and ate at place named Bobo MacFarland’s, where a few of the daring volunteers ate chicken livers, and some of the more daring volunteers were hoping to get on stage and sing karaoke. Unfortunately or fortunately for the audience, we had missed karaoke night by just one night.
On the last day of the week, we had a special celebration, with this being the last week of the Konnarock season! There was plenty of adult beverages to go around, and several familiar faces from the season showed up to join in the festivities. We had a slide show from the season, and a special award was given to all of the staff for an injury free season! It was a very special time for everybody, and it was great to see all of the folks from different crews, clubs, organizations, etc. all enjoying each other’s company.

Not only did crew 2 this week wrap it up with an injury free season, but we were also able to dig an impeccable 940 feet of new trail! A big appreciation goes not only to Crew 2 this week, but to everyone who volunteered with us this year. We hope to see you all again next season. Thank you Crew 2! OWWWWWWWWWWWW!

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