Project Leader: Dan Solmon Project Dates: June 4-August 17, 2011 Phone: 208-861-1039 eMail: firstname.lastname@example.org  Glenwood-Pedlar Ranger Districts: 27 Ranger Lane Natural Bridge Station, VA 24579 Phone: 540-291-2188
Final Report 
Download our Final Report here!
The George Washington-Jefferson Trail Corps Team finished their final hitch on August 11, but had six more days to complete our end of season chores. This was far more time than we needed to clean our tools and gear, so I arranged to do a little more trail work.
During our season on the Glenwood-Pedlar RD, we had never worked on the Appalachian Trail. We camped near it for several weeks at Maupin Field, and enjoyed meeting the hikers, and the hikers gratefully inhaled our leftovers. Many of us had hiked on the AT during our days off, and come to appreciate the beauty of the Trail, its famous social aspect, and the idea that one can follow those white blazes all the way to Maine or Georgia.
For a final project, I arranged with the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club to do a bit of work on the club's section of Trail #1, as the AT is labeled on Forest Service maps. NBATC President Trudy Philips showed Kevin, Christopgher, and me a section just to the south of Cow Camp Gap that needed some drainage work.
After Hitch #5 was over, our crew, minus the sadly absent Amy, took a day to build walls to prevent hikers from cutting and further shortening switchbacks, and to clean waterbars, per the recommendations of Trudy and NBATC Supervisor of Trails Sam Ripley. I chose this project not only for a chance to work on the AT, but to give the crew a chance to use their skills in a true volunteer fashion.
We arrived at Cow Camp Gap in a thick fog, and met two Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers and an Amherst County Sheriff's deputy, investigating a body found in a nearby shelter. However, our work was not near theirs, so we proceeded to work on the trail. It is hard to describe, but we had a wonderful time, relaxing, working, laughing, and, of course, improving a small part of a national treasure.
And shortly thereafter ended our crew's twelve weeks together, and our ten weeks in Virginia. We are now headed our separate ways, some back to college, some to other SCA crews, and some to jobs and adventures not yet known. We are all grateful to SCA and the George Washington-Jefferson National Forest for allowing us to work here, and to get to know each other.
To be more specific, I would like to thank everyone at the SCA Boise office who set up and helped out with this crew. Trevor Knight, Chris Sparks, Jarrod Ball, and Jill Kolodzne, you are all great, and my job and my members' experience woud have been difficult without your hard work. Thanks as well to all New Hampshire SCA staff who helped us keep things rolling.
At George Washington-Jefferson NFs and Glenwood-Pedlar RD, I would like to thank David Whitmore, District Recreation Program Manager, and Annie Downing, District Ranger for hosting us on their district. Pete Irvine, head of recreation for all of GWJeff, thank you for continuing to work with, and believe in what SCA has to offer your National Forest. Adam Christie, of the Glenwood-Pedlar recreation shop, thank you for your frequent visits, great stories, and at times caustic wit. Thanks to the Forest Service staff at Sherando Lake Recreation area. I know it must have been hard having six extra people living in your territory, but we appreciate you accomodating us.
Finally, I am most grateful to everyone who came to work with us. Many thanks to Mike, Mike, Tim, Jim, and Katraina of SCA's Carolina Wildfire Protection Plan crew, aka the Ragin' Raleighs. You made a hard project go by faster, and we enjoyed teaching you about trail work. Thanks to Jarrod Ball for visiting us during Hitch #4, and adding your muscle, experience, and ideas to our projects. Thank you to Jordan Albright for also coming during Hitch #4. We were glad for your help, and it was great to see someone move huge rocks while sporting a huge grin.
And thank you to everyone who has been reading these updates!
In the final days of crew GWJ #12321, we assaulted the magnificent and hostile Belfast Trail. The largest project this fine team has encountered. With a wide trail that could hold two shoulder to shoulder we tackled this step-demanding trail under the watchful eye of the Forest Service, Belfast being one of their most popular trails. Seeing as it leads to the Devil’s Marble Yard, a large boulder slide, a rare sight in Virginia.
This final hitch started with the hitch leaders, Kevin Hillstrom and Christopher Otten, and Project Leader Dan Solmon scouting out the Belfast Trail and possible base camp locations. The trail was decently steep, providing us all with sweaty backs in the end, most disgusting. A Forest Service employee flagged what he wanted completed. It was a short section of the trail, but by far the worst. The flagged section needed many large rock steps skillfully placed and se. After the scout we looked at potential base camp locations and quickly found one we loved, Hopper Creek campground, possibly the most favored camp by the crew. The fallowing days would be full of slow progress and end in a big surprise.
This hitch was filled with our regular conversations. A never ending talk of ancient Greek and Latin was to be expected this hitch. We got a text from the absent crew member Amy, telling us sad news that put a damper on us. We all wish her the best and much future merry making and full belly laughs. One day, upon returning tiredly to base camp, we spotted a case, let me repeat, a case, of orange Gatorade; there was much rejoicing. Along with the Gatorade was: a stack of wood and a bag of fresh vegetables. We were all happy to leave Sherando Lake and work on this new project that required a lot of technical skill.
On the final day of the final hitch, we saw a Forest Service employee walk up the hill, behind him were nine inmates and one guard. We were all shocked and slightly nervous. The inmates turned out to be very helpful and comedic, they worked extremely hard and we were very grateful for their muscles and life lessons. We all wished we could have worked with them more.
So here it is, the final website update from the hitch leaders. It will be odd returning home and adjusting to soft beds and flushing toilets, but I full heartedly believe all of us left SCA with an experience that this writer can not convey into words. We left fuller, I’ll leave it at that.
Wishing every happiness,
~Kevin Hillstrom and Christopher Otten, hitch leaders
14 rock steps
1 mega water bar
800 feet of fine trail
The beginning of our last hitch in lovely Sherando was off to a fantastic start. Every single log waterbar had to be ripped out and replaced, preferably with rocks. Unfortunately, the distribution of suitable rock on that part of the trail was found wanting. With the help of our leader’s master chain-sawing skills, we were able to construct the remaining waterbars out of logs, and there was much rejoicing and merry making.
Friday, we were joined by Jarrod Ball, Program Director for Corps Trails, and Jordan Albright, a volunteer friend of ours from one of our member’s crew last summer. Together, we moved enormous boulders uphill to make steps. Some of these rocks were estimated to weigh 1500lbs, and were transported with make-shift rollers, rockbars, and fierce trail muscles of six of our crew. The steps are very sturdy, and were complimented by a member of the Forest Service. And there was much rejoicing and merry making.
On one particular day, we had a visit from Mike Donahue, a biologist from the Forest Service. We had a great, lengthy chat with him, discussing the local wildlife, botany, and history of the land around us. We learned a great deal and enjoyed his visit, and quite possibly the long break from the trail. After returning to work, another visitor blew in to hang out with us: a dark and gray thunderhead. We were stormed on for close to an hour with massive amounts of rain and lightning that was uncomfortably close. Once the rain stopped, we were soaked and chilled, and the mud was difficult to work with. We returned to our base camp in low spirits, and there was very little rejoicing or merry making until dinner was ready.
Our trail was only 1 mile long, yet we spent every day of our hitch slowly waterbarring our way up. Hopefully, our efforts will prevent the trail from being washed out in the future years. Much brushing was completed, allowing for easy passage of the once-overgrown trail. We enjoyed a feast of a lunch on an overlook, a great variety of stinging insects, extra lunch food, and our crew’s typical schmorgesborg of shenanigans.
Captains Amy Carpenter and Kevin Hillstrom
Total work completed:
14 rock waterbars
2 log waterbars
15’ of rock wall extended
75’ of restoration
12 rock steps cleaned
5280’ of trail brushed
7 rock steps
One 4’ x 3’ x 2’ rock wall
One 3’ x 3’ x 1’ rock wall
1 mile of trail maintained
We began our third hitch on Slacks trail, the second trail we have worked on this season. While hotter and dryer than White Rock Gap Trail, it proved to be in far better condition. In fact, our fervor and awesomeness enabled us to complete the survey rather quickly, leaving us in search of off-survey work. The trail was also full of delicious blueberries, which we took advantage of when making pancakes. Aside from a few water bars in the beginning and a crib wall later on, rock was seldom used and replaced with timber. This switch was met with much rejoicing, considering the excessive use of rock during the past two hitches, and our project leader’s desire to enhance his manly musk with the smell of oak and bar oil.
The opportunity to better our timber skills was a major highlight during this hitch. The 25 foot timber wall was two logs high and supported by two splendidly de-barked dead men. The project would not have been possible without the accurate felling skills of Dan and the quick-witted comments and axe expertise of Adam, our US Forest Service agency contact.
The rest of the hitch was filled with a plethora of grade dips and provided the crew with numerous “teachable moments.” Apparently, the 5 day break over the Fourth of July was too much for the crew to handle and accurate grade dip building was momentarily forgotten. Not to fear, the upside down ladles were quickly turned to upside down spoons. Additional highlights include when pheromones were scientifically proven moments after one member boldly questioned their existence.
Our campsite haven at Maupin was as wonderful as the previous hitch, regardless of the smaller number of interesting and hungry through hikers. Morning stretching circles, lunch feasting, and fire circle banter was filled with lengthy discussions about the age long game of Dungeons and Dragons©. It was decided that Olivia was the tuneful Bard, Danny the mad Sorcerer, Amy the pious Cleric, Critter the crafty Thief, Kevin the Arcadian Ranger, and Dan the celebrated Fighter. This fair group of adventurous souls is ready for any quest that the SCA overlords can conjure.
Our crew is very excited for our break, whether it will be spent in the City of Bbrotherly Love, the trails of Shenandoah, or the state of Massachusetts.
Bonne fête nationale à tous nos chères lecteurs!
Les chefs: Olivia Horan et Danny Shosky
Total work completed:
One 25’ x 2’ x 1.5’ timber crib wall
One 15’ x 2’ x 2’ rock crib wall
4 rock water-bars
1 timber water bar
18 rolling grade dips
5 rock check dams
7 timber check dams
Narrow 320 feet of trail
Obliterate 20 feet of trail
1227 feet of widening
2.5 miles (13200 feet) of total trail maintained
The George Washington Jefferson crew returned from the chilly, moist Spring conditions of Washington State to find the Blueridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley in their usual warm, muggy Spring conditions. After four days of shopping, planning, trailer organizing, making our just-turned-21 member into an SCA driver, and other logistical chores, the crew was more than ready to work on a trail.
The White Rock Gap trail climbs approximately 1200 feet in 2.5 miles, running from Upper Sherando Lake to the Blueridge Parkway. Many hikers and mountain bikers use the White Rock Gap trail, which had not seen any heavy maintenance since the mid-1990s. This lack of TLC was plainly evident along the route, as was some fresh damage that resulted from a major rain event in early Spring of 2011.
With a survey form in hand, and keen eyes for bad trail on the lookout, the crew began our tasks, including digging new grade dips, building new rock crib walls, rebuilding old rock crib walls, widening tread*, fixing backslope, cleaning water bars, regrading step downs, and filling in washed out trail.
Throughout the hitch, team members engaged in lively and informative discussions on the case systems of Latin and German, acronyms made with team members’ initials, and why objects made of ferrous metals can attract or repel eachother.
Overall, the hitch went well. Everyone worked hard, and progress was faster than expected. We completed all the work on the Forest Service’s survey, and worked on some of the recent storm damage. Now, we are all excited for our five days off, which will be our first break since Corps Member Training began May 23. A well deserved rest!
Further up and further in,
*Widening trail is called “restoration” in Virginia.
Total work completed during Hitch #1:
Seven Rolling Grade Dips constructed
1155 feet of trail widening and backslope repair
Three rock crib walls built, totaling 122 square feet
One rock crib wall rebuilt, totaling 40 square feet
Two step downs repaired, resulting in 30 feet of regraded trail
Nine water bars cleaned
Two rock water bars built
130 feet of washed out tread refilled
90 feet of reroutes restored to natural appearance
Happy though we were to have finished the survey for the White Rock Gap Trail at Sherando on our first hitch, we found enough problems to keep us busy for our entire second hitch. We began with some light lifting – rocks, and bags of dirt which were needed to fill a section of washed out trail spanning approximately 720 ft. We were fortunate to have our friends from Raleigh, the SCA’s North Carolina Community Fire Protection Plan, come and give us a hand on our first day, doubling our dirt-hefting power.
Following that escapade was a delectable surprise! A couple lovely southern ladies who traverse our trail on a daily basis brought us a dinner at our campsite of chicken, potatoes, fresh bread, salad, pesto pasta, blueberry peach cobbler, and ice cream. That incident was possibly the highlight of our time at our compost site which allowed no shade and was inundated with wasps. We moved up to Maupin Meadows, a pleasant site along the Appalachian Trail, complete with a variety of thru-hikers who were happy to exchange conversation for our leftover chili.
We found, to our delight, another section of trail that had been thoroughly washed out by a spring flood. This, according to the forest service, is a yearly problem. So, instead of setting about filling it with dirt as a temporary solution, we dug about 15 waterbars, and built seven check steps to help divert water from the trail. We finished the week on a high note, having built a dam to prevent water from flooding our newly re-treaded trail, and a variety of rock crib walls to support the trail.
In our spare time, such as it was, the crew delighted in intellectual pursuits. Many an etymology was discussed, and great conversations were had over the purpose, frequency, and usefulness of sarcasm. This comes from the Greek word Σαρκαζω (sarkazdow), meaning to tear flesh like dogs, bite the lips in rage, or speak bitterly, (in case our inquisitive readers were wondering).
Fun games involving the possible distortion of RV names such as Escaper and Providence were enjoyed. The crew is still holding out for the chance of possible deification in return for our trail efforts. The good people of Sherando, if such plans are in the works, are not letting on. In the meantime, we shall be enjoying our days off, and taking part in some 4th of July celebrations, i.e. a demolition derby.
Captains Amy Carpenter and Christopher Otten
Total work completed:
8 rock check steps
13 rock waterbars
720’ filled in washouts
1 20’ x 2’ dam
1 20’ x 2’ rock crib wall
6 dirt pits rehabbed
2.5 miles of trail maintained
The George Washington Jefferson Trail Corps team met in person for the first time at Camp Evergreen in Longview, WA on May 23. Over 100 SCA Corps Members, project leaders, and admin staff convened to train the 2011 summer crews of the Trails, Native Plant, Fire, and Restoration Corps. Despite frequent rain and a camp cold that sickened more than half of the attendees, all had a fun time getting to know other SCA people, learning the nuts and bolts of SCA life, earning a Wilderness First Aid or Leave No Trace Trainer Certification, and learning workskills for the upcoming season.
Trail Corps members divided into groups named for different styles of facial hair, and turned approximately ½ mile of western Washington soil into a new trail for the future enjoyment of Camp Evergreen's visitors. Along the new footpath, the Chinstraps, the Soul Patches, the Goatees, the Sideburns, and the Handlebars built rock steps, a rock crib wall, a timber crib wall, and a log bridge. Coming to dinner every day sporting fresh coats of Pacific Northwest mud, the Trail Corps members nonetheless beamed with excitement over the new skills they had learned, and the work they had accomplished that day. Various members of the George Washington Jefferson crew described Corps Member Training as “better than last year”, and “baller”.
After training had closed, the George Washington Jefferson team flew to Virginia, where we began preparation for our first hitch at the Sherando Lake Recreation Area. Thanks to our new skills and fresh enthusiasm, Sherando's trails will soon be wider, straighter, better drained, and more stable.
Thanks for reading,
Danny Shosky 
My name is Daniel Shosky and I am 20 years old from Denver, Colorado. This marks my fifth round of service with SCA which began in 2007. I became extremly interested in the SCA when I finished my first crew off of the blue ridge parkway. Most recently I lived in Poultney, Vermont where I attend school at Green Mountain College where I am studying environmental studies with a concentration in environmental education. Growing up in colorado, I hiked 20 peaks above 13,000 ft. I enjoy hiking, knitting, trail work and snowboarding. This marks the begining of my second crew in the blue ridge mountains. I look forwatd to seeing how this crew plays out.
Olivia Horan 
My name is Olivia Horan and this is my first SCA crew. I am originally from Philadelphia, but I go to school at Grinnell College in Iowa. I am twenty one years old and am going to start my senior year in the fall. I am a Classics Major and just returned from a semester abroad in Rome studying ancient Greek, Latin, and Art History. For the past three years I worked as a counselor and in-camp staff administrator at Shiloh Quaker Camp in Virginia. Through this job, I led hiking, camping, canoeing, and service trips throughout the Shenandoah Valley. I am really excited to return to Virginia and spend three months doing trail maintenance in George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. My other interests include running cross country and track and field for my college, and singing opera.
Christopher Otten 
My name is Christopher Mark Otten. I am eighteen years old and I’m from Hudson Wisconsin. I just recently graduated form high school and now I am working for the Student Conservation Association in George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in Virginia. During my junior year in high school I spent a year abroad in Portoviejo Manabi Ecuador. During my year I discovered my love of travel and when I got back to the United States I started to look for more options to travel and explore. I really like spending time outside, rock climbing and kayaking so the SCA was a good fit combining being outside, work, and adventure.
Amy Carpenter 
Amy is a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is majoring in Environmental Science and Policy with a concentration in Wildlife Ecology & Management, which she plans to pursue at the graduate level after college at Virginia Tech or Penn State. This is Amy’s second trail position with the SCA. She had her first experience participating in the Alternate Spring Break in the Charles Bronson State Forest in Florida, cutting new trail and constructing a boardwalk through a swamp. She loved the experience of hands-on conservation, and working in a team of like-minded individuals. When not working on trails, she loves spending time with the University’s horses, and her brothers and sisters of her biological professional fraternity, B.I.O. Amy is greatly looking forward to serving in the George Washington and Jefferson forests, in which she has spent lots of time hiking and camping over the course of her life. She is excited to give back to an environment which has, in part, inspired her love of the wilderness.
About the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests and the Sherando Lake Recreation Area 
Site Info – The 2011 SCA Trail Corps crew for the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests will be working on the Glenwood-Pedlar Ranger Districts, specifically in the Big Levels region of the Sherando Lake Recreation Area. The area is popular with hikers and mountain bikers.
The George Washington & Jefferson National Forests cover 1.8 million acres of mountains and gorges, mostly in Virginia, but also including small slices of West Virginia and Kentucky. The Glenwood-Pedlar Ranger Districts run northeast of Roanoke. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail and Blueridge Parkway both run through the districts.
Set in a hardwood forest, Glenwood-Pedlar Ranger Districts are home to black bears, white-tailed deer, trout, bass, ruff grouse, and many other species of mammals, fish, and birds. There is also a great deal of historic sites on the districts.
The 2011 GWJeff Trail Corps team is excited to bring their spirit and service to the Glenwood-Pedlar Ranger Districts this summer.
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Born and raised in the tiny beautiful town of Trout Lake Washington I quickly learned what my biggest passion in life was, the outdoors and everything involved with it; growing up in such a beautiful location I spent my early years backpacking, camping and exploring my massive back yard of Trout Lake. Nothing has changed since then; my passion for the outdoors still holds my heart and soul.
In the coming years I plan to receive my wilderness EMT license and join a search and rescue team, or any other outdoor activity where I can put my license to good use.
Traveling is another plan I have in the coming years. Nepal is in my eyes and I plan to spend four months backpacking and living there; I wish to travel and backpack in many, many countries.
My other passions in life are: traditional archery, bush craft, natural walking, falconry and I am a huge gear nerd when it comes to outdoor products and their technology; another small dream of mine is testing/creating outdoor gear.
Dan brings seven seasons of trail work experience with the USDA Forest Service to this, his first season with SCA’s Trail Corps. Having worked in the large Wilderness areas of Central Idaho and Northeast Oregon, Dan is excited to experience a season in Virginia’s mountains.
Aside from working in the woods, Dan enjoys reading, exploring, and learning foreign languages. Dan holds a B.A. (Honours) in geography from McGill University, with minors in sociology and linguistics.