7/13/10 thru 7/16/10
Due to a rainy forecast, we postponed our move to the backcountry and concentrated our efforts on the nearby Buck run spur trail. We cleared 5280' of corridor, constructed 13 rolling dips, and installed one locust water bar. The mile long Buck run spur is now complete and allows visitors of Locust Springs Picnic area to enjoy a 2 mile loop trail.
During the week we also installed two Recovery Act Signs. One was placed at Locust Springs campground and the other at the beginning of Middle Mountain forest road. On the way to Middle Mountain, we drove into the Laurel Fork area from the East and saw some of the Blue Grass Valley. Three of the crew had not seen this area and thought that it was gorgeous.
Unfortunately we are back to a 5 member crew,...again. However this has not kept us from continuing to take care of business. The original group is still intact.
7/20/10 thru 7/23/10
We finally have a home in the backcountry. Though we moved in nearly continuous heavy rain, we were still very happy to be setting up camp by the river. Our campsite is right on Laurel Fork with our Kitchen and family area overlooking our swimming/fishing hole (which has a rock water slide,...in higher water) We are enjoying easy access to water, whether that be water to drink or taking an evening dip after work. Life is good. We put in a lovely latrine in the Rhodo juggle. Thanks to Ben for hiking in the toilet seat!
Original plans to go North to Cold Springs Run were scrapped due to rising waters preventing us from fording the stream. So we headed South and cut our way to Christians run. The Rhododendron had grown completely shut in some sections of trail making it difficult to crawl through. Now it is opened up so much that someone could drive a truck down it. Cutting this section of Laurel Fork trail is an engineering feat topped only by the contruction of the Panama Canal and Hoover dam. Next week we will probably press on in the same direction and start on Christian Run trail.
We saw two Rattlesnakes near the mouth of Christian Run. So that is 3 Rattlers to date and many other small non-threatening snakes.
Over the past month, the CWPP team has drafted and edited 15 reports and more than 45 accompanying maps for fire departments in the NCDFR’s tenth district. The team has also had lots of fun in Greensboro and beyond.
After assessing Stokes County, the team hiked to a hanging rock at Hanging Rock State Park. The view from the top was spectacular, and the homemade ice cream awaiting the team at the trailhead (courtesy of their NCDFR partner Jonathan Young) was delicious!
The CWPP team also greatly enjoyed bumping into members of the SCA C&O Canal Native Plant team in Washington, DC, where they watched a great Independence Day parade and fireworks on the Mall.
They are looking forward to a busy and productive month of finalizing reports and maps, visiting the South East Exotic Plant Removal team, and beginning to work with fire departments and foresters in NCDFR's District 11.
We spent the last 10 days in both the dome wilderness and on the Spence hot springs trail. We cleared over two miles of corridor on the St Peter's Dome trail. In the area of Spence Springs the crew completed a turnpike,a very large water bar and two retaining walls comprising in total of over 35 rocks. We also worked with the New Mexico YCC out of the Jemez Valley area. We started rock stair cases that they will finish. Over all it was a great hitch and we are very happy with our work and enjoyed sharing the worksite with YCC.
Education/ outreach 1 day
Check steps 13
Check Dams 22
Drainage dips installed 2
Dirt moved 55 bags
This hitch we took on new trails and different types of projects. Despite a cruddy cough mid summer funk that hit the group, everyone took great care of themselves and performed at an amazing level. The projects consisted of lifting, carrying, and strategically placing many locust logs and bags of mineral soil! No one in this group needs a gym! We are getting svelte and strong the good old fashion way!
We started off our hitch in Big Fat Gap. This location has 4 trails that branch out from… you guessed it a “Big Fat” gap. Both sides of this gap are very steep and are washing out. We decided the best way to hold back the bank was with locust timber stairs. That way it will be easier for the public to walk up the hill, and the hill will become stabilized by the logs holding back the soil. This was a fun project for all and gave us something different to accomplish other than the typical brushing and digging drainage dips.
Alex came to visit the group from Boise and we attended a great event in Asheville! The Americas Great Outdoors listening sessions was an awesome opportunity for the group to get the word out about what we are doing, and for the group to hear about other great outdoor achievements and ideas that are happening in Western NC. We celebrated our half way point this week and everyone agrees that the time is flying! We have accomplished so much and it is excellent to see all the transformations we have put into Joyce Kilmer coming together.
The second half of the hitch was spent on the Stratton Bald trail. This is a fall line trail that is heavily eroded. One could mistake this trail as a stream bed! The best solution to this trail was to place many check dams to eventually build the trail soils back up. In a few days the trail really started to transform. We have started the reversal of some erosion that took many years to develop. This whole process will take a few years to fully restore, but eventually the soils will build and walking the trail will be more enjoyable.
There was a ton of signs of Russian Boars on this trail and they are really tearing things up! They have been grubbing the sides of the trail creating a nice trench down each side. We will have our hands full when we start the deberming in this area! We need to teach those boars how to dig trails their technique is all wrong!
Since the last time...Emma and Chris have flown in the Smokey Bear Hot Air Balloon...The crew met with the forest ecologist and the fire ecologist to discuss the current state of affairs in Dixie and Fishlake and to get the bigger picture as to why fire monitoring is important...Andrew was deployed to fight fire with a Color Country squad...The crew went to a risk management talk / stand-up comic routine by Gordon Graham...SCA and Dixie NF celebrated their 50 year working relationship with a picnic and service project...the crew worked in the beautiful aspen groves of Fife Ridge, overlooking Zion NP...and 85 additional plots were remonitored or created.
It has been a busy / fun / productive month!
Looking to the future, the crew will be heading to the Fishlake National Forest for several weeks of plot work. These will be the first Fishlake plots this season.