|Corridor Clearing & Brushing||200 ft.|
|Log & Tree Removal||3|
|Rock Retaining Wall||2 Complete|
|New Trail||250 feet|
|Backfill Material Distributed||5 yrds.|
|Paint Marking||2000 ft.|
Twelve weeks ago, five strangers from across the country arrived in Augusta Springs, VA to complete an SCA internship. This week that internship comes to end. Through toil, sweat, frustration, hard work – five strangers came together to complete a task that many claimed to be daunting. River loop, Hidden Valley West, Bogan Run, Muddy Run and Jackson River – all trails that will never be the same due to the work of the Bath County trail team. This week our experience in Virginia comes to an end but its effects will not. We will carry this experience with us for the rest of our lives: looking at the stars, eating lots of rice, playing ‘The Settlers of Catan’ – doing meaningful, masterful work in the George Washington Jefferson Nat. Forest. It is an experience that we will share with our descendants.
We concluded our internship by resuming work on the Jackson River reroute. The focal point of this work was the construction and completion of our two primary rock retaining walls along with an eighty foot new tread construction area. This work consisted of not only clearing the region in which the walls were to be placed (which involved lots of grunt work and grunting – as another boulder needed to be moved) but also quarrying rocks and setting them in place. Amazingly, owing much to Ian, Pat, and Laura both rock walls were completed by the fifth day of the hitch. With two of the obstacles completed we then set about doing finish work on the wall section and completing the tread. Finish work on the walls involved the physically intensive job of moving hundreds of pounds of shale up a steep hill in order to shore up the trail. With this ended our task finally shifted to the tread construction which we completed in less than three days. We ended this hitch very fittingly doing the work in which we first started – tread reconstruction at the far end of the trail.
Besides work…. This hitch also contained a few notable exceptions to our usual routine. On July 27, we were asked to participate in a meeting including the Warm Springs District staff along with the Regional Forest Service Director of essentially the entire southeast. On July 30, we were joined by Kurt... an ex fire fighter and trail builder who showed us what it really meant to dig quickly. Finally on August 1, we were given a send-off picnic by the Warm Springs District staff in which not only did we leave stuffed but also feeling very appreciated and well recognized for our contribution to their district.
We would like to thank everyone who made this experience possible along with the support offered by our friends and families. Off to Virginia beach!
|Corridor Clearing & Brushing||1+ mile|
|Log & Tree Removal||20|
|Boulder Relocation||1 (1000+ lb.)|
|Rock Retaining Wall||1 Complete, 1 Underway|
|New Trail||350 feet|
|Backfill Material Distributed||15 yrds.|
Hitch number four brought the whole crew back together again after an off-hitch separation: Adam went back to New York to spend time with family and home cooking, Ian returned to Indiana for a classic rock concert, Angelika and Patrick took the tourist route in Washington D.C., Laura visited a school friend in Norfolk, and John spent time with family in Hot Springs. Everyone enjoyed the off-hitch and was looking forward to returning to work on the Jackson River trail.
The Jackson River trail is a beautiful trail that runs right along the river closer to the trailhead and then slowly climbs the hillside for a higher view of the river. The trail ends at an exciting suspension bridge. Before the crew started their work, the trail was an overgrown mess with some fallen tree obstacles, but that quickly changed during this work hitch. Using a motorized brusher, the entire trail was cleared of small vegetation and small trees. With the help of a chainsaw, larger trees were cut and a pole saw was used to cut tall branches.
Because the part of the trail that runs right along the river will be eroded away in future floods, one of our main tasks is to construct a trail reroute. The first step was to build a dry-stack rock retaining wall and to fill behind it with dirt and crushed rock to create a stable trail up the hillside. The crew had to dig a tremendous amount of dirt out of the hillside in order to accomplish the minimum two feet of tread. After the wall, a winding trail was cut into the hillside until it reached a flat area that used to be a road. Another rock wall is in progress farther along the trail to help stabilize it and keep it from eroding away in the near future. More trail was cut after this second rock wall.
Between the second rock wall and the new tread, there are several giant boulders buried in the way. Rock bars and brute strength were used to try to remove these; it was not enough. Now the crew has the task of deciding how to deal with these boulders in the way of the trail. The answer will most likely come about during the next and final hitch.
The flat road continues after the boulders and is now clear of most vegetation. There is more tread to cut, but the end of the trail reroute is in sight. After one more long restoration, the trail should be complete and the crew hopes to accomplish this by the end of the summer.
This hitch was definitely exciting. It started off with a soaking rain and continued rain more than the previous hitches combined; a nice skylight was added to the tarp during a dinner-time fire; close games of Catan continued to stir up the camp atmosphere; and tooth pain and bee stings caused some anxiety. As this hitch comes to a close, the crew can definitely be proud of their work thus far.
Born and raised in Indianapolis Indiana, Ian is currently a Junior in the College of Agriculture of Purdue University. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (his major), Ian plans on attending Law school (location currently undecided) with a concentration in Environmental Law. From there, Ian hopes to find employment with either environmental non-profit organizations in Indiana, Indiana Environmental Agencies, Private or Public Law offices.
Ian enjoys climbing, basketball, the company of his family and friends and the outdoors. He was drawn to the SCA on the advice of a friend and classmate whom had completed a trail crew internship in the summer of 2009. In addition to this, his numerous years in the Boy Scouts of America (and the attainment of his Eagle Scout award) have driven him to remain active in the field of conservation. Ian’s hopes for this internship are to grow both mentally and physically from the rigors of trail work and to develop a more comprehensive and “wise use” conservation mind set.
A little bit about me. I live in Portland OR and am originally from Southeast Michigan. After working in web design the past couple years, I decided it was time to move on and chase my dreams.
Over the past couple years, I've done a lot of volunteer trail work in my free time, constructing and repairing mountain bike and hiking trails in Northwest OR as a way to give back to the areas that I enjoyed recreating in. I came to a realization that I wanted to go beyond volunteering on my weekends and make trails and conservation work a career. Working as a Trail Crew Leader for the SCA sounded like the perfect fit for me and I jumped on the opportunity.
Previous to my stint in web design, I worked as a wilderness therapy field instructor in Eastern OR with troubled teens. The program I worked at focused on wilderness skills which included fire starting with found materials--I'm excited to put together a bow drill set for us in VA and get some fires going! Besides conservation and outdoor activities, I enjoy listening and attempting to make music (drums, guitar, mandolin), gardening, reading, friends/family and spending time with my fiancee and pet pug. I can say from having hiked a fair bit in Virginia and the Appalachians in general that we're in for some nice scenery and there should be plenty of opportunities to make a contribution to a great area of our country.
|Tread Restoration||1/2 Mile|
|Corridor Clearing & Brushing||1+ Mile|
|Drainage Features||1 Complete (drainage ditch)|
|Type III Switchbacks||1 Complete|
|Rock Retaining Wall||1 Complete, 1 Underway|
|New Trail||150 feet|
|Channel Clearing||1 Blockage|
After spending a relaxing off-hitch in Roanoke the crew was welcomed to hitch number three. The off-time came at a great time because the entire crew has been working very hard to complete each project. Most of the time was spent re-charging their energy either at the pool or in the hotel room. We also went on a short venture into downtown to see a car show. The highlight of the break came on the drive back to Hidden Valley when we had the opportunity to see iron furnaces dating back to the pre-Civil War era.
The new hitch began with several long term projects up for completion. The crew started with the continuation of the water diversion drainage trench on Muddy Run. The trench was approximately 2’ deep by 2’ wide and ran 30’ in length and took almost the entirety of the hitch to complete. Three rows of rocks were placed on the trail-side slope of the trench to keep it from eroding. The final stage of the trench project consisted of filling in dirt to the trail that had previously been trickling with water drainage. Although the construction of the trench was especially hard on the worker’s back, its completion came with great satisfaction for the crew.
Muddy Run required a variety of work separate from the drainage trench. Several different tread restoration sections were completed in places where the trail was uneven and overgrown. Plants that have been taking over the complete length of the trail were removed with a motorized brusher. Another task was removing dead tree limbs and muck that had blocked a section of a stream. This removal allowed for the water to flow in the direction it was supposed to rather than get backed up into areas that should be kept dry for erosion purposes.
On the sixth day of the hitch we finally checked Bogun Run (East) off of the list. It came to completion by finishing the final switch-back rock retaining wall. Much effort was also put into finishing the last restoration section at the top of the hill and cutting hinge for the rest of the trail that was not already finished. The following day we enjoyed a day off to celebrate Independence Day at the Homestead Resort. In the afternoon we watched the movie Avatar in the resort’s movie theatre and later viewed the resort’s great fireworks display preceded by a live Beatles impersonation band. The end of the hitch brought with it the exciting beginning of a new trail called Jackson River Gorge. A massive trail relocation project is already underway for the trail. We have begun by brushing out trees in the line of the new trail and digging out new tread, and additionally, have started a rock retaining wall that will provide adequate tread width at the beginning of the relocated section.
|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.
|Corridor Clearing||½ Mile|
|Tread Repair||600 Feet|
|Rock Water Bars||1|
|Rock Retaining Wall||½ Completed|
We began our work week enjoying the Memorial Day holiday. Once we began our work, however, we moved straight to the River Loop trail of Hidden Valley (arguably our most labor intensive trail of the hitch). Our restoration assignments included tread restoration, brushing the trail’s corridor and re-vegetation of the affected trail. As we acclimated to the heat and the new rigors of our work, we were fortunate enough to enlist the help of the Cold Springs Correctional Facility’s work crew. They helped us brush out the vegetation, lay new tread and were all-around good guys.
Our efforts on this particular trail continued for three days. Over which time, we moved from restoration zone to restoration zone and finished the trail off with a final brushing of the whole tread, from start to finish, giving the trail a pleasant, even surface. Upon completion of the River Loop trail we moved our sights to the Hidden Halley West Trail which required, mainly, brushing of the overgrown vegetation. To complete this brushing, we were given two gasoline powered brushers which certainly made our job much simpler. Within one morning, we were able to brush ¾ of a mile and began laying a new tread along the river.
Following our temporary completion of the Hidden Valley West Trail, we moved on to the Bogan Run Trail. We hiked up the mountain on the Eastern side and began to brush the overhanging branches. W e then progressed to our assessment of the first type III switch back. A Type III switch back requires a rock retaining wall and we began quarrying (gathering) for suitable rocks to comply. After a full day looking for rocks and cutting into the hill for the wall’s placement, we hiked back down the mountain and prepared for the rest of the work.
Our second, third and fourth days on Bogan Run revolved around the placement of a rock water bar, brushing the mountain laurels (which had given us quite a beating) and working on the rock retaining wall. The wall proved most difficult due to our lack of available, hefty rocks. Further quarrying was required and we are ready to continue and finish the wall at the beginning of our next hitch.
Adam is currently a senior at SUNY Geneseo expecting to graduate in the spring of 2011. This will be Adam’s second SCA internship. As a Biology Major , Adam is looking forward to spending his last summer in the foothills of Virginia building trails and aiding in conservation work before he leaves college for graduate school or the Peace Corp. Adam enjoys walks in the woods and being around animals.
Born in Odessa, Texas; currently residing and studying at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas.
As a student at TXState, Angelika is majoring in Geography-Resource and Environmental Studies. She will be entering her senior year in the fall and will graduate in May. After graduation, she plans to ride her bicycle from Texas to Canada and back, and then pursue a Masters Degree in graduate school. When asked where she plans to go to graduate school and what she plans to study, she is not certain yet but she is currently considering pursuing a Water Resources degree somewhere in the Midwest. Her hobbies include hiking, reading, biking, geocaching, rock climbing, toobing, swimming, tennis, meditating, and hopefully trail building after the summer.
During her senior year of studies, she looks forward to writing her Honors thesis with a focus on humanitarian aid at the U.S./Mexico border and generally just living it up with her boyfriend, friends, and family. She chose to pursue an internship with SCA because several professors at her university recommended it, her love for the outdoors, and because she hopes it will serve as a step into a career in the parks or forest system. Despite the tough manual labor, little experience, ticks and poison ivy, the beauty of Virginia and the company she keeps has erased any anxiety she may have felt entering this experience.
Patrick Mulcare is a student attending the University of Colorado. He studies Sociology, hoping to gain future employment with the National Park Service or a federal law enforcement agency. At 20 years of age Patrick is well versed in activities where physical fitness and the ability to make difficult yet important decisions are necessary. Living in Boulder, Colorado during the school season he is an avid hiker and backpacker. He enjoys spending time in the backcountry where he can be surrounded by the sights and sounds of the mountains.
Out of his passion for the outdoors Patrick gained the desire to work throughout the summer in a way that could improve the trails system. This is his first ever experience working for the Student Conservation Association. Patrick hopes to improve his life skills in areas that will add to his all around knowledge. By spending a vast amount of time in the wilderness he will become more well-rounded at every aspect of outdoor living. He enjoys learning how to use new tools that he can utilize to make a positive impact on the land.
Laura is a rising sophomore at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. Though currently undeclared and undecided as to her major, she finds her primary interests in environmental studies, geography, and women’s studies. She grew up and attended high school in Lexington, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. Prior to this trail corps experience, she had never been to Virginia. She is excited to spend the summer exploring this beautiful, colorful state.
Laura’s inspiration in applying for and accepting a position on an SCA Trail Corps was her desire to improve the public’s access to the outdoors, to gain outdoor living experience, and to spend her summer playing in the dirt. Last August, Laura served on an SCA National Crew in Kisatchie National Forest in Winnfield, Louisiana. Her experience there awakened a desire to learn more about and explore the natural world, and to participate in sharing the unique resources of our parks and forests with others.
Welcome to the informational website for the 2010 trail team working in the Warm Springs Ranger District of the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests. This site will showcase some of our progess as we work to restore trails in our area from late May to mid August, 2010. Thanks for your interest in our work and support of our conservation goals!
What we'll be doing here most of the time:
Project Leader: John Stegmaier, firstname.lastname@example.org, 208-631-7447
Warm Springs Ranger District, C/O Dawn Coulson
422 Forestry Rd.
Hot Springs, VA 24445
|John Stegmaier - Bio|
|Hitch #5 -- A Grand Finale|
|Hitch #4 -- Jackson River Madness|
|Hitch #3 -- Along the Banks of the Jackson River|
|Hitch #2 -- Bogan Run is More Fun|
|Hitch #1 -- DONE!|