Thursday, June 14, 2018

Week 5: June 6-10, 2018

Crew 1: Highcock Knob Relocation

working with Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club

click here for the full photo album

Week 5 has come and gone and it was nothing short of fun! Crew 1 headed back to Highcock Knob near Natural Bridge, VA to continue working on the relocation project that is planned to open in another week!

We continued finishing up the bigger structures along the trail, putting in rock steps, retaining walls and also started doing heavy tread definition, and cutting into where the relocation meets the AT on the southern end.

We had a smaller crew of 4 volunteers, all but one who have been involved with Konnarock before. Despite a smaller crew we got a great deal done, with the help of the fabulous NBATC (Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club) volunteers. We also had some help for a day from JR, the Ridgerunner for the area. The weather turned out to be ever in our favor, as it didn't rain, except while we were in our tents at night. It got a bit humid on our last 2 work days but nothing Crew 1 or NBATC couldn't handle.

The crew enjoyed the campsite at Watson's Pond, enjoying a few campfires and smores throughout the week. Some of the crew took a dip in the pond and the spring was also a place of refreshment after a long hot work day on the trail. The food was a highlight for everyone with the pesto sausage pasta being the crowd favorite. We had some special breakfasts with Jerry's banana pancakes and another morning of eggs, grits and spam with help from "The Bard of Highcock Knob", returning volunteer, Jim.

From the first work day we had little groups working on different segments throughout the trail. There were mini groups setting rock steps, finishing a crib wall and crushing lots of rock to raise the tread. The rock nets were heavily used as there were plenty of large rocks to find, move and carry, for the structures built.

As the week progressed and structures were getting completed, more people got to work on digging tread. There were a handful of spots on the trail that needed slough removed and the backslope redefined. Some volunteers cleaned up backslope where there were big rocks protruding out and small rocks in the backslope that would eventually leave an ugly, unstable backslope. 

The sidehill digging at the beginning of the relocation took a lot of hard work and patience. Doug from the NBATC and Simon with our crew got to do some crosscut work to remove a large fallen tree from the trail. There was a group working on an open culvert on a section that gets heavy water damage.

The week finished out with most of the culvert done and the trail at the southern end of the relocation finished. The crew enjoyed another delicious dinner provided by the NBATC, a spread of hamburgers, hot dogs, homemade avocado salad, cornbread salad and brownies and cookies. It was a great evening of meal sharing and fellowship around the campfire, a well deserved treat!

Our final morning we took the morning slow, enjoyed our coffee in front of the pond, before cleaning up camp. Before coming back to camp we took the crew on quite the adventure at the "Dinosaur Kingdom II", a little park in Natural Bridge, VA that was an interesting twist of Civil War union soldiers and dinosaurs. It was a one of a kind experience that will not be forgotten.

Our last stop was a very pleasant lunch stop at the Foot of the Mountain Cafe that had a very large menu with a fantastic view of Purgatory Mountain right off the interstate. If you are ever driving through Buchanan, VA, stop by this cafe, it will not disappoint!

Another highly successful Konnarock week of fun, trail work, camping, and camaraderie. Thank you to all the volunteers that worked on Crew 1 this week and the dedicated volunteers with the NBATC!

--Julia Smith, Assistant Crew Leader

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