Trail Brushed: Approx 2.5 miles
Program Manager Alex Olsen filled in as Project Leader for this hitch, and due to some various circumstances, was joined by a reduced crew of Ashley Resh, “J” Ramsey, and Josh Franklin. Next week Program Coordinator Shane Sheldon will fill in, and member Marion Wing will return, and the next week after that things will go back to a more regular pace with replacement leader Toji Sakamoto (formally of the Mt. Rogers Crew) will fill in for the rest of the season.
We started this week on Tuesday, August 3. Waking at dawn, we had a quick breakfast and drove to the Black Mountain Crest trailhead. The crew pointed a potential camp out to me on the map, and, after a 2.5 mile, 2000 vertical-foot gain hike in (phew!) we did indeed find a pleasant camp site on an old narrow-gauge grade: near water , with space for several tents, and off the trail enough to satisfy LNT requirements.
We then gathered up the tools we needed and began our push to brush out the section of trail from the base of the Black Crest trail up to Winter Star Mountain (about 6.5 miles). Though the original plan was to brush up to the tool cache left up on Winter Star peak (about 4 miles from the camp), it soon became obvious the severity of the brushing required would take at least the 4 10-hour days we had, if not more. Sure enough, we ended up just completing about 2.5-3 miles of brushing, from just below our camp up to about a mile short of the point brushed by Winter Star. We shouldn’t (and didn’t ) hang our heads about this- the brush on the top of the ridge was often shoulder to head high, and completely obliterating the trail. I estimate about 3 more days will be needed to clear out the remaining section.
We encountered just about every sort of weather- from scorching hot sun to torrential downpours, though we did get some absolutely superb views from the top of the Black Crest Trail, and the camp we lived in, seated as it was next to a babbling brook and nestled among some beautiful big trees, was rated by the members as “the best one yet.”
Many thanks to J, Ashley, and Josh for hanging in there and introducing me to this gorgeous section of North Carolina.