Spiders and mis-placed trail count posts - Trail Count June updates

Trail Counts
-Trail season is now in full swing this month! TTOC is now fully-involved in trail use monitoring from now until November.
-Trail use will now also be monitored in Sutersville, PA to provide even more data for future trail use reports. Other TTOC trail monitoring sites include Connellsville, Ohiopyle, Smithon, Rockwood, Garrett, and Deal.
- TTOC has been performing manual counts monthly at the locations mentioned above. During trail count training with me, Michelle, and Emma this month, we encountered some unexpected road blocks.
At our Deal location, the counter located at the Eastern Continental Divide, we discovered that a fuzzy, fanged friend had made his home in the wooden hole where the counter scope peaks out. After much innovation, we attached a Q-tip to a wooden stick and dug out the thick, cotton ball like web, and urged the big black spider out. Unfortunately, we lost a lot of trail use data since the spider and web blocked the scope from doing its job. But the situation is currently under control.
In addition two of our counter posts were installed in the wrong locations (south of the trail heads rather than north), so we got a great bike workout trying to find out counters!
-I have been very busy planning the July synchronized trail count, where we have many trail volunteers stationed at many trail heads along the GAP for a two-hour, synchronized count. Although coordinating the schedules of over 15 volunteers has been challenging, we are ready for a great count during the second week in July.
- The time of the August synchronized trail count has been changed to 12PM to 2PM. We still need volunteers to help out in McKeesport, West Newton (north and south trailheads), Cedar Creek Park, Smithton, Rockwood (north trailhead), Garrett (north and south trailheads), Deal (trailhead), Frostburg, and Cumberland.

~ Rachael Christie

One of the fun things that we do are the manual trail counts. It is a great way to meet trail users while gaining data on how many people are using the trail. We check the data from the manual trail counts against the information gathered by the infrared counters. For the manual trail counts, we ask for zip codes. A lot of people are from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland, but I had one couple tell me they were from Germany!
On July 4th, I did a trail count at Smithton, PA. I met a lot of nice people - some of them stopped and we talked about the Great Allegheny Passage. One guy told me that after the count, I should go to West Newton and check the Trailside: a restaurant and bike shop along the bike trail. I set up for the count across from a Tufa cascade formation which is a deposit of limestone - like the stalactites hanging from the ceilings of caves. The sign said the Tufa waterfall is estimated at 12,000 years old. It’s also a cool place to hang out on a hot day with the mountain water misting into the air.

~Michelle Rapp