Rock Crush Created for Filling Tread 50 cubic feet
Rock Water Bars 2
Rolling Dip type drainages 26
Trail cleared of tripping hazard rocks
and blasting debris 3000ft
Our final hitch started off with the unfortunate occasion of bidding farewell to crew member Mitch after he returned from the weekend with a broken toe due to a mishap while playing in an ultimate disc tournament.
We spent our first few days digging out the muck deposited on the trail below our first section of cribbing and installing one rock water bar that was tied into an extra large, blasting aided, drainage ditch. We also built a rolling dip with the help of Shane Sheldon who was visiting our crew for the afternoon. Needless to say making crush was an ever present necessary undertaking. Tyler departed for Arizona at the midpoint of the hitch to make Resident Advisor Training for his dorm. His presence was missed, along with his passion for swinging a sledge.
The middle part of the hitch was spent on the recently blasted upper section of trail from above deep gap to the wilderness boundary. In this area we filled in some craters created by the blasting to remove larger tripping hazard rocks, and walked up the trail throwing loose rocks off the trail. After the tread was mostly cleared, we started working on creating numerous rolling dips in the places we could get through the high berm to get water off the trail. During this time we had heavy rains that left a small river of water running down the trail. This gave us a clear indicator of where structures needed to be, and once built, showed that they worked properly.
Our last two days were spent packing out our camp and cleaning up our site. At the start of the last trip out for the day the mountain bid us farewell with a standard issue 20 minute thunderstorm complete with a torrent of precipitation that left so fast if anyone not caught in the storm saw is they would have thoroughly questioned our reason for being completely drenched. On the final day the remainder of the Mount Rogers crew, Marissa, Danielle, Matt and Toji hiked out the unwieldy steel box, lovingly dubbed the “Box of Pain” that served as our food container for the summer, and bid a final farewell to the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail.
Rock Crush Created for Filling Tread 80cubic feet
Drainage Ditches 90ft (~810 cubic ft of dirt
After a quick two day break, we jumped back into the field for hitch 5. The blasting project at the end of the last hitch left us with plenty of extra work to be done, so we got right to it. The blasters nearly doubled the length of the lead out ditches on most of our structures, so despite heavy rains and sloppy muddy conditions on our first several days we got the ditches all cleaned up. Throughout the hitch we switched off between this and the ever present job of making crush for the tread. Between crushing and digging we were working hard for the entire hitch and finished ready for a long break.
Rock Check Dams 3
Rock Water Bars 4
Rock Crush Created for Filling Tread 70cubic feet
Drainage Ditches 30ft
4th of July weekend marked the halfway point of our work season, and provided the crew and myself some time away from the trail. A personal highlight for me was watching fireworks alongside what seemed like the entire town of Marion in a Taco Bell parking lot.
Our first few days were noticeably sunny and warm in stark contrast to the constant heavy gray haze that perched itself on our worksite for what seemed like the entire summer. It was a welcome change that boosted moral as we labored to finish filling our second section of cribbing with crush. After the final touches were put on our second and final section of turnpike we moved up the trail and started building some new structures. Above our last section of turnpike the trail gets narrower and steeper, so we built an extensive fortification of heavy duty check dams and water bars.
Our last two days we were made exciting by a Forest Service blasting project which took place about a half mile up the trail from us. We stayed well clear of the hazard area but got to learn a little bit about what went into the round of blasting that was done before we came in to facilitate our work. On our pack out day we spent the morning clearing a path through about a ¼ mile of debris left on the trail. Although we were all tired and wanted to get out of the field, the change of pace was welcome, and we swiftly got the job done and headed home with a sense of accomplishment.
Rock Cribbing 23ft
Rock Water Bars 1
Rock Crush Created for Filling Tread 50cubic feet
Drainage Ditches 48ft
Hitch 3 started off with a relatively light hike in, as we were planning on doing a short but brutal set of four 10hr days. After a setting up camp and taking lunch we got right to work on the second set of cribbing which was started on hitch 2. Despite the fact that we were working 10hr days moral was greatly improved as Mitch was back on the job after being on light duty most of last hitch due to a back injury. The whole crew worked dedicatedly through the long days, and we accomplished our goal of finishing all of the rock setting for the second set of cribbing. Although we did not entirely finish filling the cribbing in with crush, we put down a solid base layer, finished the water bars at the top and bottom, and completed the drains so we left for the 4th of July weekend with a fully functional hardened section of trail.
At the close of our strenuous 4 day hitch we were ready for a much needed break.
Rock Cribbing 25ft
Rock Water Bars 2
Rock Crush Created for Filling Tread 100cubic feet
Drainage ditches 50ft
Hitch 2 brought our crew back into the swing of things after a much needed break. We spent the entirety of the first two days making crush for the section of cribbing we completed on hitch 1. We had discovered that while we were gone the combination of rain and horses necessitated another layer of crush on the tread. We had originally built the tread with a layer of crush, then a layer of mineral soil, another layer of finer crush, and then a top layer of mineral soil, as per our forest service contacts recommendation. With the additional crush added to the surface we found it to be a much more durable surface that should be able to handle years of abuse from equestrian usage with little maintenance.
After we were through making the majority of the crush, we refocused our efforts on our second set of cribbing. Our most experienced rock setter was unfortunately on light duty for the entire hitch due to a back injury, but this created an opportunity for the rest of the crew to alternate through taking the lead on setting rocks. It was a bit slower going, but everyone on the crew has increased their rock setting skills. Teamwork improvements also showed in our ability to move unwieldy boulders for the wall that in our earlier days in the field would have been exceedingly difficult with all six of us.
On the last day of our hitch we got hit with an unusually strong afternoon thunderstorm and got to really see our work function. Within 20 minutes a formidable stream of water was flowing down the trail and off of it where we had installed drainage structures. The tread we hardened with crush stayed solid and easy to walk on and the areas protected by our drainage features became muddy from the shear volume of water coming straight down, but it drained the way we wanted it to and stayed perfectly usable, while the rest of the trail quickly turned into a swamp that entirely swallowed boots and, at best, left its victims with soaking wet muddy feet. Experiencing this down pour was a great moral boost for the crew, as we saw firsthand that our work was functional.
Originally from Los Angeles California I have had a lifelong love for the outdoors and throughout college developed my skills as an outdoor leader. I graduated in 2009 from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration with a concentration in Outdoor Recreation. During my time there I spent four years working as a trip leader for the universities outdoor program where I lead numerous trips including backpacking, rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering and canyoneering. Also, I worked as a ropes course facilitator and maintenance tech for the Cal Poly ropes course. Over the past year and a half I worked for a nascent event company as the volunteer coordinator and, among other tasks, recruited, organized, and directed volunteers. I helped the small crew at All Out Events put on two brutally hilly 10k runs, two annual weekends of a multi sport 12hr adventure race that ranks as the largest adventure race in California, two weekends of the annual Pine Mountain rock climbing competition, and a four day New Year’s rock climbing festival. In my free time I enjoy road biking, mountain biking, wrenching on bicycles, rock climbing, and slacklining,. I am excited for this summer and my opportunity to contribute to the trail system that I spend a great deal of my time enjoying.
Rock Cribbing 55ft
Rock Water Bars 2
Rock Crush Created for Filling Tread 60 cubic feet
Drainage ditches 70ft
The first morning of our 10 day excursion into the land of rock work began with a 3 hour meeting with our Forest Service partners. The crew received a formal introduction to the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, and had the opportunity to meet the Area Ranger Beth Merz, as well as a few of the Forest Service volunteers working near us this season.
Around lunchtime we arrived at our trailhead and started packing in our gear to set up our camp. Our camp site was a beautiful spot located off the Appalachian Trail about 1/8th of a mile from the start of our project area, and about 2miles from the parking lot. It took 3 trips to pack in all of our tools, food, personal gear, and a 6.5ft long steel box. The box was lovingly nicknamed the box of pain, as it weighed at least 100lbs and only had two small handles. Luckily the box will remain at the campsite for the duration of the season. Camp was fully set up around 10pm, and we promptly went to sleep.
The next morning we hiked our tools down to our project site, had a stretch session, a safety meeting and then met up with Evan Blevins, one of our Forest Service contacts, and got started on the day. Evan showed us what needed to be done in the first section. The first section was about 50ft long, starting at where the blasting team had created the beginnings of a lead-out ditch in the high berm, and ending at an old check dam that was not functioning. We needed to first shovel out the 4 inch layer of muck and then raise the tread to get it out of the water course, and build a drainage to get the water clear of our trail.
We proceeded throughout the hitch to set 55ft of large rocks into the trail, and made lots of crush to backfill between the crib wall and the uphill slope of the trail, effectively elevating the trail 6 to 8 inches. We spent most mornings with 1 to 2 people setting rocks, while the other 4 located new ones and used the magic of rock bars to roll them over to the wall. In the afternoon the groups switched to making crush, re-vegetating the spots where we quarried rock from, and the other group charging away at setting rocks.
As the crib wall was completed the drainage structure was built. We first cleaned up the lead-out ditch, then worked up hill, digging an out sloped drain parallel to the tread to channel water down to the lead-out ditch without tearing up our new tread surface, or depositing muck on it. We finished these off with a rock water bar at both the top and bottom of our wall, to ensure the water flowed where we wanted it to. We still have to make more crush to finish raising the tread, but overall we got a lot done and worked together really well.
Hello!! My name is Mitch and I'm from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This is my forth year serving for the SCA. My first crew took place in Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado/Utah and from then on I knew that the SCA would be an important part of my life for a long time to come. After my first high school crew I served as a member of SCA's International high school crew the following season in the North Cascades National Park, Washington and Skagit Provincial Park, British Columbia. As high school ended and I entered my first year at Penn State University as a Parks and Recreation Major to pursue a career in adventure based leadership I knew that I wanted to continue on with trail work. Last season I served as a member of the SCA's Trail Corps team in Manti-La Sal National Forest, Utah. Trail Work and the culture that goes along with it are very dear to me. Bringing individuals together from all across the country and world to be apart of something so special is incredible. When you look back at a days work on the trail and see what your crew has accomplished it's a feeling very unique from anything else, and can only be described with a full hearted smile. I look forward to this summer's work and the great group of people I'll be sharing this experience with.
Our project for the summer is rehabing a majorly eroded section of the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail in the Lewis Fork Wilderniss in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. The Virginia Highlands Horse Trail is a 68-mile trail between Elk Garden and VA Rt. 94. It features mountainous terrain, valley views and valley crossings, and is a popular summer destination for equestrians and hikers.
The section of trail we are repairing was built on an old road bed, and has a tread width that is difficult to maintain as only hand tools can be used in a Wilderness Area.
A blasting crew did some preliminary work to aid us in our objectives: get water off the trail, and harden the tread surface with rock crush to withstand the high impact of equestrian use.
It is my continued education and recreation in the outdoors that has led me to an internship with the SCA. I hope that this opportunity to work and live outside for the summer will strengthen me physically and mentally. My environmental education began when I was a child and my family would take me on trips away from my hometown, Roanoke, VA; to nearby national forests and parks. These trips peaked my curiosity about my natural surroundings. After high school I chose to major in Forestry and moved to Clifton Forge,VA where I completed a two year Forestry Technology degree at Dabney S. Lancaster. In the fall I will transfer to Virginia Tech where I will complete my bachelors in Forestry. Some hobbies that I enjoy outdoors that the national forest has facilitated include mountain biking, backpacking, kayaking and swimming. I am fortunate to live near the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest and am glad to serve the forest that has served me so well.
From an early age, I have enjoyed spending time outdoors – fishing trips on Lake George New York, camping in the mountains of New Mexico, and hiking in the beautiful Santa Catalina mountains just north of Tucson. However, it was not until the summer after my sophomore year at the University of Arizona that I first considered pursuing a career in the environmental field. After a summer of building and repairing barbed wire fences in Clayton, NM, I decided to pursue a BS in Environmental Science in addition to my History degree. This experience also ultimately led me to a serving with the SCA by reminding me how much I enjoy working (and living) outdoors and rekindling a desire to work towards protecting the environment. I am thrilled to be returning to Virginia after spending a summer there as a historical interpreter at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Although I have never done trail work, I am looking forward to working in the George Washington Jefferson National Forest and gaining experience, knowledge, and skills that translate into a career with the Park or Forest Service.
As a psychology major and Environmental Science minor, the SCA seems to be a perfect fit for me. The combination of environmental stewardship, acquired trail knowledge and camaraderie create the perfect setting for summer’s worth of volunteer work. As a student of the State University of New York at Geneseo, I hope to make changes this summer not only for the greater good, but also for myself both physically and mentally. Previously, I have been very involved in dance, sailing, hiking and acting, and am very excited to add trail work to my list of favorite hobbies. I am also very excited to be able to see the end product of a summer’s worth of hard labor, that will hopefully benefit many to come!
The SCA first became a part of my life shortly after I graduated from Maclay high school in Tallahassee, Florida. I spent 35 days on a high school crew in Denali National Park and Preserve where we rerouted an old trail. Growing up, I spent many hours enjoying the outdoors, but serving on this crew allowed me to experience nature in an unforgettable way. A tent was my home, and a vast Alaskan wilderness was my backyard. After that summer, I knew that I would be returning to serve through the SCA. During my first spring semester at the University of Florida in Gainesville, I studied abroad in Namibia where we spent two months assisting the Cheetah Conservation Fund and a final month touring the other parts of the country. The following summer I served as an SCA Trails Intern in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area where our crew worked on building the Shasta Trinity Trail. After another year studying Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at UF, I returned to the SCA to serve as a Trail Corps crew member in the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area in Virginia. The SCA has allowed me to travel, serve the land, and spend time in nature. This only skims the surface of what the SCA has given me though. I am part of a community. A community of future leaders in conservation.
|Welcome to the Mount Rogers/ Virginia Highlands Horse Trail Rehab Corps Page!|
|Project Leader Bio|