Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Weeks 2 & 3: May 11-23, 2017

Crew 2: Yellow Mountain Rehab

working with Nantahala Hiking Club in North Carolina

Click here for the full photo album.

Weeks Two and Three brought Crew Two way down south to Yellow Mountain in the Nantahala National Forest, only six trail miles north of the Georgia line. Though half of the Crew was able to stay and work the entire two weeks, four reluctantly had return to the “real world” after the first week while three new volunteers joined for the second week.

The work required for this rehabilitation project varied from minor tread definition and vegetation clearing to log step installation and heavy duty rock work.

The Crew camped at a tucked-away spot at one of the many Deep Gaps in the southern Appalachians, this particular Deep Gap being located near the end of FR 71 just south of Standing Indian Mountain. Around camp, Crew members enjoyed good conversation, music played by Cool Breeze on his penny whistle, and the call of the resident barred owls and coyotes. One volunteer had mastered the barred owl’s call so well that she was actually able to communicate with them.

From the campsite, the Crew hiked 1.5 miles up to the work site each morning, enjoying the plethora of spring wildflowers, flowing springs, and mountain vistas through the sparse spring canopy along the way. Once at the work site, they would discover other joys such as dragging brush through thick jungles of rhododendron and mountain laurel, swinging pulaskis and sledgehammers in mires of mud, moving 600 lb. rocks named “Fred”, and of course – crushing a seemingly endless amount of rock. One volunteer even reported that by the end of the project he was crushing rock in his dreams.
With the plethora of wet-weather springs on this segment of trail, one of the main goals of the project was to improve drainage and to create a dry treadway for hikers to walk. Needless to say, many of the projects took place in wet, muddy areas which were only accentuated by the rainy weather. This sort of work is bound to get a person extremely muddy, but who knew getting muddy could be so much fun?

The efforts of those hardy souls resulted in some rock-solid causeways, French drains, stone culverts, and steps that will undoubtedly endure the test of time. Crew members also did an excellent job of clearing out the thick overhanging vegetation, which will allow the sun’s rays to penetrate and help dry the Trail.

Between the two weeks, the Crew enjoyed a few extracurricular activities such as tubing on the Little River in Tennessee followed by a day hike up Clingman’s Dome, a haircut for one volunteer, trivia night at a local pub, and relaxing at Gooder Grove Hostel in Franklin, NC where they stayed during the three off days. The folks at the Hostel were kind enough to allow the Crew to stay free of charge. We thank them immensely for their hospitality.

Speaking of hospitality, the Crew was rewarded with several meals provided by the Nantahala Hiking Club throughout the two weeks - a Mexican dinner at El Charro in Franklin at the end of the first week, a BBQ at the hostel during the off days, and a final potluck celebration at the home of Bill and Sharon Van Horn. The Crew enjoyed the delicious food as much as getting to know NHC's dedicated year-round volunteers.

The Club also aided progress on the Trail by coming out and working several days, even in the rain. We simply cannot thank them enough for their generosity and hospitality as well as their expertise and dedication in the field.

By the second week, the Crew had become a well-oiled machine. The remaining projects consisted mostly of rock work – several water bars, french drains, a rock stair case, and a major crib wall project on the final day on which the whole team contributed. The Crew really outdid themselves by hammering out an amazing work in a short amount of time in spite of the less than ideal conditions.

Congratulations to all those who toughed it out through the rain and mud, especially those who were able to endure the full two weeks. Some very important work was accomplished, and it simply would not have been possible with out a great crew. Good work, Crew Two! HYAW!!!

--Brian Allgood, Assistant Crew Leader

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