Hikers, fishermen and fisherwomen of Highland County, we are proud to announce that the Laurel Fork Trail will soon be open from Cold Springs Run to Bear Wallow! This will allow access to some of the most beautiful and pristine parts of the river while opening up several loop trails for day hikers and weekend backpackers. We have spent the past few weeks blasting through miles of seemingly endless and impenetrable rhododendron. Fueled by the "Rhodo Rage", Marlene cuts the twisted, gnarly trunks with the chainsaw while Jenkins, Willy, Cletus and Maggard drag the carnage into the woods and out of sight. Sometimes the only thing that keeps us going is the thought of Marlene's cooking: Who would have thought that dehydrated chili and soup mix could be made into something delicious simply by adding summer sausage, fresh veggies, Reverend Willard's XXX hot sauce, fire-seared Spam, and a big dash of love? We spend our evenings around the fire, staring up at a hornets' nest that was the size of a softball several months ago but is now rapidly approaching the size of a basketball. Nobody seems willing to carry out our extermination schemes, which range from throwing a rock and running the other way to affixing a can of hornet spray onto the rope-activated lopper mechanism of the pole saw.
As the season comes to an end, it seems that the hornets will stay after we go our separate ways: Todd over the mountain to Monterey, Marlene and Ben to California, Justin to Alabama and David to Pennsylvania. Our accomplishments are not small: We have opened over 15 miles of trail on Buck Run, Locust Spring Run, Locust Spring Run Spur, Buck Run Spur, Christian Run, Cold Springs Run, and Laurel Fork. This included clearing the corridor, restoring the tread, installing waterbars, steps, rolling dips and retaining walls, and heavy blue blazing.
It feels like these trails are ours, and it is wonderful to see them open and accesible to the public.