Crew 2: Justus Mountain Relocation
working with Georgia Appalachian Trail Club
click here for the full photo album
click here for the full photo album
For weeks five and six, Crew 2 took their annual trip down to Georgia. To cut down on drive time and to boost productivity, the Crew stayed down in the area for the full two weeks. The Crew picked up where the last year’s Crew left off on a relocation project just north of Cooper Gap.
This .9 mile-long relocation will eliminate the abrupt ascent and descent up and over Justus Mountain by skirting around it at a much more sustainable and pleasant grade. However, a few short steep sections could not be avoided during the trail layout in order to avoid giant boulders and bedrock slabs. The Crew partly focused their efforts in those steep sections during the first week, building rock and earth steps to check erosion.
The crew also tackled a very technical spot where a large bedrock boulder was encountered during the sidehill excavation last year and was protruding into the path. The solution was to build a stone staircase up to the top of the bedrock, chisel footholds in the slanted top, and bring the tread level up on the other side by building a stone crib wall. This ended up being quite a challenging, but fun project. When it was all said and done, everyone had a hand in building it since many of the rocks used required six to eight people to carry them.
Meanwhile, folks from the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club (GATC) could be found digging away at the other end, finishing up the sidehill. They brought with them an impressive number of volunteers each day which greatly contributed to progress. In fact, thanks to them the sidehill portion of the project is nearly complete. They also seemed to walk past the Konnarock volunteers just when they needed help moving an enormous rock.
GATC has become renowned for their hospitality during these two week stints, and definitely did not disappoint this year. Special thanks goes out to Jason for letting the Crew camp on his beautiful property and for throwing the Crew an unexpected cookout one night, and to Tom and Vivian Lamb for hosting their epic barbecues at the end of each week complete with tubing, frisbee, bocce ball, and good times -- southern hospitality at it’s finest!
During the off days between the two weeks, the crew had fun exploring the town of Dahlonega, panning for Gold and touring the Consolidated Gold Mine, the largest gold mine east of the Mississippi. They were treated to a stay at their own private house at Hinton Rural Life Center in Hayesville, NC and enjoyed biking nearby trails, swimming in Lake Chatuge, playing disc golf, and lounging on the back porch.
On the way back to the project, the Crew took a trip up to Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia, and stopped by Mountain Crossings Outfitter at Neels Gap to gear up for the next week -- an iconic spot on the AT.
After a relaxing break, the Crew was ready to get back to work. To aid progress even more, two more volunteers joined for Week 6. The Crew had developed a rhythm by the second week and the new folks quickly caught on and thus accomplished an amazing amount of work. The major project during week two was to build a cribbed stone stair case up and over a rock that was jutting out from the mountainside. The rock became known as “Sharkie” since it was shaped like a shark and even had facial features that seemed to smile as if it were laughing at the volunteers.
As the week progressed, one crew member started the countdown to Tom Lamb’s, and even had it down to the second during the last 24 hours. And after all the heavy lifting and rock crushing through out the two weeks, everyone was ready for some tubing and grub. The Lambs really outdid themselves the next morning by sending the Crew off with a big breakfast.
--Brian Allgood, Assistant Crew Leader