|Restoration (Hinge)||3/4 Mile|
|Corridor Clearing & Brushing||1 Mile|
|Drainage Features||3 complete, 1 underway|
|Type III Switchbacks||2 complete, 1 underway|
Our second hitch at Hidden Valley was marked by some notable improvements. After enjoying four days off in the Charlottesville area, we all headed back to Hidden Valley to set up our second camp. Though we stayed in the same campground, we made serious progress in our camp-making faculties. We put up a sturdy tarp shelter, which lasted the entirety of the hitch with ample head clearance for the entire crew. Having learned from our very itchy first hitch, we stocked up on citronella candles. The food was as delicious as ever, especially with the liberal application of Sweet Baby Ray’s barbeque sauce. On Wednesday, Angelika put up a solar shower for the group, complete with a tarp for privacy and a demarcated path for poison ivy avoidance. After going food shopping on Friday, John neatened up our provisions. He even provided tours of the bear box for the crew in order to make the transition into organization easier.
We were well prepared to continue our work on Bogan Run. In total, we had three switchbacks to restore on the eastern side of the trail. We divided up the crew to work on the switchback restoration that we had started at the end of our first hitch, and to start work the switchback above it, which required the same treatment. It was a definite team effort to get the first switchback and rock retaining wall completed on Wednesday. We completed the second one a day later, and then began intensive brushing of the trail from top to bottom.
Bogan Run has an impressive population of mountain laurel. Unfortunately, some of that population infringed on the trail. We spent much of Thursday through Monday battling it. Armed with gas-powered brushers, fire rakes, and a chainsaw, we pushed through until the trail was once again visible and passable without a helmet and eye protection. Our other big project was to repair the hinge – the place where the tread meets the back slope of the hill - throughout the trail. Leaves and other organic matter had sloughed off the hill and piled up onto the side of the trail, narrowing the tread. Using grubbing tools like the Pulaski and hazel hoe, we cut down the detritus and widened the tread. Hinge work, along with beginning the third switchback and retaining wall, occupied us until the Wednesday, when we started work on Muddy Run.
On the second Monday, we were fortunate enough to get a tour of the Warwick estate, a house on Forest Service property that is operated as a bed and breakfast by Pam and Ronny, an impressive couple from Ohio who completely restored it. They furnished the building with period decorations and furniture, and did much original research into the history of the property and the Valley as a whole. Pam was so generous as to show us around the bed and breakfast, and to share some of her knowledge with us.
Trail Corridor brushed Approx 8,470 ft
Blow down removed from trail 32 trees
New trail/ rebenching 4250ft
Rock structures 2
Drainage dips installed 30
Site improvements/garbage removal 2
Another great hitch in Joyce Kilmer! Our week was divided into clearing the upper portion of the Stratton Bald trail and continuing the “Big Dig” on the Naked Ground Trail. It appears that Naked Ground will be the most intense work of the summer. The trail has very steep tread and is built into a steep bank, which has equaled- lots of digging. The group is excited about the progress on this trail and decided to mix it up a bit with the Stratton Bald corridor clearing. It was great to mix up our total body building throughout a hitch. Digging provided an excellent opportunity to build our stomach and back muscles, while lopping and sawing works those arms from the biceps to the triceps! We are all getting strong!
We received our long awaited cross cut saw and it is helping us take out the big old growth trees that make this trail so popular. Our D handle pruning saw is also a surprisingly big help in this process. We have been amazed at what that little saw is capable of cutting. The weed whip has also proved to be a handy tool (we had our doubts). Dan and Tony are mastering the art of taking out thick berry bushes along the trail with powerful swings. The Stratton Bald trail was so grown in you could not see in front of your face for at least half a mile! This trail leads to the most beautiful bald, but you would never know along the way amongst the thickets. Now it is open for all to enjoy without getting bloody scratched arms on your way to the bald.
The group camped at the top of Naked ground trail on the ridge. The views were spectacular and all the days on this hitch were clear as can be. We feel lucky that the sun has been shining each day. We are in a perfect work environment because the trees give us great shade. It may be in the 90’s in town but the woods are comfy. Water is a bit of a challenge, but the group planned well and prepared by pumping water at the beginning and end of each day at the known water source down the hill from camp. We are experiencing an unusual summer with very little water, but when the water comes back the trails will be ready.
We have all our trails scouted now and we are close to moving to the next exciting project. We hate to say goodbye to Naked Ground, but we must move on!!!
The Trail Town Ice Creams were envisioned by the 2009 TTOC team. While having a scoop of the “Rockwood” ice cream, created by Judy Pletcher, owner of Rockwood Mill Shoppes & Opera House, the team was inspired to have unique flavors for each town. Town ice cream flavors provide a fun community project and provide additional incentive for trail users to venture into the towns. Each of the other five towns had community groups gather together to brainstorm a flavor inspired by the cultural and natural history of their respective towns. Once a distinct, delicious combination of ingredients was decided on, Jackson Farms Dairy produced each town’s unique, rich ice cream. With the arrival of hot summer weather, this cool new treat is now available in each Trail Town. A name selection contest went on in each town wherever the signature ice cream was sold until the Fourth of July weekend when the new Trail Town Ice Cream names were announced in each community. The new signature Trail Town Ice Cream names are: West Newton: “Yough Ness Monster,” Connellsville: “Youghiogheny Mud,” Ohiopyle: “Cherry Rapid Delight,” Confluence: “Gobble Berry,” Meyersdale: “Maple City Marvel,” with Rockwood’s remaining “Rockwood.” Queen City Creamery has also been busy producing Maryland’s Trail Town Ice Creams. Frostburg’s is “Bobcat Blast” and Cumberland’s is “Lover’s Leap.”
The Trail Town Ice Creams are available at the following locations: West Newton: The Trailside & Gary’s Chuckwagon, Connellsville: Trailside Trading, Ohiopyle: Friends of Ohiopyle events and The Kickstand, Confluence: Sisters’ Café, Rockwood: Rockwood Mill Shoppes, and Meyersdale: Donges’ Drive-In. The ice creams will continue to be sold in each town throughout the trail season. Trail users and community members are encouraged to take a break from the summer heat and taste each town flavor.
Member training was a week all about learning the hard and soft skills necessary to hit the trail this summer. We participated in lots of "modules" and enjoyed the Augusta Hot Shot Base in Virginia. We participated in several workshops inlcuding tread and drainage, sustainable trail design, and got experience working with wood and rock in a few different projects. We became acquainted with eachother, the expectations of the USFS, as well as what SCA is all about. Lots of fun and games were intermixed with learning. A memory that will last forever: the Pisgah crew watched "Alone in the Wilderness", a must see for any outdoor enthusiast, projected against a trailer outside during a movie night-perhaps one of the best drive-in-like movie scenes ever witnessed. Members received Wilderness First Aid Certification and made a bunch of new friends. All 8 teams representing the WESTERN! trail corps (all though we are working in the east) slept outside in approximately 40 blue tents, it was awesome. More importantly we were able to bond with everyone who will be working trails this summer. We built a huge energy ball this week which has since dispersed as every crew made their way to their project sites and new communities...
Here are a few pics from our time together.
The Crew came into the second Hitch rested and relaxed from time well spent in La Grande, OR mostly. It’s the nearest town with all your off-time needs (motel, showers, food, laundry, and a movie theater). After three days, however, you’ve seen all you can see and have done all you can do in La Grande, so each member was ready to get back out into the field, a very familiar field at that.
On Monday morning, we drove the same drive on the Forest Service 52 Road, towards Granite. This time we stopped a little short of a two mile hike in and just camped at a lower access trail head, right next to out Truck and Trailer. Hence, “The Secret Life of Luxury.”
First, we started with 44 liters of potable water, so no filtering for a while, and we had plenty of food storage at our disposal and believe you me, we took full advantage of that. Pan-seared Salmon the first two nights for dinner. Eggs in the morning for breakfast. We brought the Coleman 2-burner stove which attaches to a propane tank, so no more pumping and filling fuel bottles for us, no way. Along with the stove came the oven, yes an oven that sits on top of the stove. We tried it for the first time and had Apple Cake which was delicious, and the girls made Daniel brownies for his birthday. Yeah! Okay, let’s get back to the site. We had Granit Creek all to ourselves and it was running cool and clear ever since the water level has gone down with the coming dryer weather. The Beach was the place to be after the long hot days brushing on top of the ridge or finishing the re-routes. And it wasn’t a beach at all. Piles upon piles of river rock left by the pioneers dredging techniques searching for gold in the late 1800’s. But it was our beach and it was great.
We also tried a new schedule this hitch, nine, nine hour days to give us an extra day off between hitches. So we were getting up earlier to get out of work around 4. That was real nice to have the evening to eat, read, swim, eat, slackline, and watch a movie. Yes, a movie. Remember, Luxury.
So we had a celebrities stop by and entertain us. They really appreciated the work we were doing here in the North Fork John Day Wilderness. Jim Gaffigan, Zooey Deschanel (twice), and Philip Seymour –Hoffman to name a few. We figured it a nice treat to watch an actual movie rather than just quote and talk about them all day.
OH YEAH, the work we did. I almost forgot it was work we were having so much fun. Dan Neff was our Hitch Leader and he had the crew in tip-top shape. Unfortunately we lost Jake due to health and timing. He is doing well and we wish him the best in Portland. The crew logged out a 180 year-old Ponderosa Pine that had fallen across the trail, ‘Big Benjamin’ as he was named by Chip. Big Ben measured 46 inches in diameter and is the biggest tree we’ve encountered on the trail so far. Well, biggest we’ve had to cut through. He was a 5 hour project with cross-cutting, disconnecting, chopping, moving and clean-up. With that, we finished up more tread work and completed brushing the Granite Creek Trail. This hitch we finished two re-routes of trails that had been washed out by the river or over grown and gullied out by high water. Those re-routed totaled 320 ft, and the new tread we grubbed in was over 250 ft. We brushed 5 ¼ miles over the 9 day hitch. Overall it was a great hitch with plenty of dessert.
The crew is planning on camping locally in the Eagle Caps Wilderness and then head near Portland for the Fourth of July. Celebration of Independence. America!