The last two weeks couldn’t have been more eventful for the Atlanta crew. Their endeavors took them to lakes and mountains, creeks and climbing gyms, parking lots and the sides of highways. On sunny days and rainy ones, through dark thunder and intense heat, they surveyed, surveyed, and surveyed some more and met many a character along the way.
It’s been a whirlwind, and a fun one at that.Surveys were the primary activity of the ﬁrst week of the hitch. Sitting on the roadside, fashionably clad in ﬂuorescent yellow vests and the freshest SCA gear around, the Atlanta crew chatted up the lake-visiting public with smiles, good humor, and, you guessed it, utter class. Many projects were undertaken in the moments between work; Michael perfected both the paint can woodstove and pop can alcohol stove after putting the ﬁnishing touches on his modiﬁed compost tumbler (patents pending). Leah broke ground on the Hillbilly Hilton’s backyard trail, the aptly named Punky Brewster, which is surely soon to be one of the most prestigious hikes in the world of trails. Clayton wrote a lot of wimpy poetry about the birds, trees, and ﬂowers of North Georgia, while designing birdhouses to compliment the Punky Brewster.
But rocking N. Georgia like a hurricane wasn’t enough for the ATL folks. Seeing a chance to diversify their portfolios of raditute on their days off, the ATL hauled up to Nashville, Tennessee for a country music fueled conservation project adventure. For a day they split ways, Michael riding off into the sunrise on his motorcycle, destined for the infamous Dragon’s Tail, Leah and Clayton heading off straight for the land of the Grand Ole Opry. The crew reveled in the company of Nashville’s ﬁnest folks, Sophie, Mike, and Eva, and exchanged stories of wild and wonderful survey periods of the past few weeks. This was no mere leisure trip though, folks. There was business to be done and that business was a day working in one of the gardens of the incredible Nashville Food Project. The crews painted their thumbs green for the day and set to planting arugala, spinach, fennel, and most importantly the cucumber garden, which they helped, from clearing the ground to planting. It was unsurprisingly a real good time and everybody in the crew left feeling smarter, prettier, and inspired by the awesome work of the NFP. Check them out, folks! They are cool beyond my ability to explain.
After a tearful departure from their esteemed colleagues up north, the ATL crew headed back for the bread and the butter they had left behind…more surveys! Michael and Clayton diversiﬁed their worldviews a bit by switching survey schedules, Michael heading for the western reaches of the state at Carter’s Lake and Allatoona, Clayton moving closer to the homefront at Lake Lanier. A sadness was noticeable in the fearless leader, Leah Cantor, as she realized her days of surveying were coming to a close here in Georgia. She made her last few survey days count, and engaged the public with wit and jubilance! Don’t worry Leah, you’ll be surveying again in Kansas soon enough!
At the Hilton, a call was heard from the North. The Great Smoky Mountains were summoning. There was trash needing picking up, and we were the folks to do it. Only two of our three could go – Michael, ever mindful of the call of the survey, graciously volunteered to stay behind so that Clayton and Leah could sally forth. He spent his time bettering a community near and dear to his heart, the climbing one, creating a brochure of helpful tips and resources for climbing safely and mitigating detrimental environmental impact. Leah and Clayton, aided by their allies Sophie and Mike V., took on the litter-strewn roadways entering Great Smoky Mountain National Park as a part of their annual Earth Week festivities. With tenacity characteristic of SCA members when faced with mass amounts of garbage, the combined teams combed through the roadside like a vigorous dog groomer, and came out with 5 heaping bags of trash and a few odd items. To the delight of the trash hounds, the SCAers won awards for most trash collected and weirdest item (a restaurant pager found by Sophie). The spoils of victory? Pizza and ice cream! The crew gave thanks for their feast and shared their bounty with fellow campers and AT through hikers, which gave back its own rewards, new friends, and potential co-workers. It could not have been a more fruitful experience. Reunited again at the Hilton, the team closed out the hitch with a few slow, stormy days. Michael and Clayton, surveying, got well acquainted with the spring showers of Georgia, which although miserable to sit through, brought the beauty of the hills and lakes into full bloom.
Leah worked tirelessly on setting things up right for her crew in Kansas. Sunday, the ﬁrst day of the hitch, the rain broke, a sunny welcome into the newest and ﬁnal phase of the initial ATL crew adventure.
Thanks for reading,
Herbert the Deer Head.