Project Leader: Project Dates: May 27, 2010 - September 20, 2010 Email Address:
Hitch #7 
Corridor clearing 27,456 ft
Blow down Trees removed 33
Stratton Bald trail is now walk able without bushwhacking through heavy foliage! This trail was as thick as the untamed woods of a jungle, but now is back under control for users to enjoy. The trail starts at about 1,000 ft and climbs up to around 5,000 ft. We walked through many different ecosystems along the way. The lower section of the trail is Rhododendron and Paw Paw. The middle of the trail is Oak and Locust and on the ridge line there is a beautiful grassy field with Balsam fir trees and Birch trees. The entire trail is full of blackberry bushes. This was great for a nice snack during our workday. It is nice to be on a trail that offers different environments daily.
Every time we run into someone using the trails in this area they are excited to see us, but also inquire about other trails. We have to inform them that we are focusing on a few trails, but it shows the need for much more trail work in the area. We have cleared many miles with loppers, weed whips, saws and axes. The maintenance of a wilderness is a slow process. We are continuing to clear corridor right through the end of the project to get as much useable trail as possible. We have made excellent progress and hope the maintenance continues to keep the trails in great shape. Happy Trails
Hitch #6 
Corridor clearing 12,560 ft
Retread 1515 ft
Blow down Trees removed 31
Drainage dips installed 2
Old growth removal 1
We have been on the lower portion of the Stratton Bald trail and it really feels warmer without the elevation. The dog days of summer are upon us and the afternoon showers are a welcomed cool down.
We faced some challenges this hitch removing an old growth out of the trail. We had two options 1. Build stairs around it or 2. Use gravity and move the tree down hill. We decided that moving it down hill would be the most efficient way to solve the mammoth problem- boy we were wrong! In the end the tree was removed safely, but there were many calories burned removing it! It looked like it would move easily, but it quickly became an engineering project. Everyone pitched in and it was fun to collaborate ideas on how to best use our wilderness resources. This is a nice change from our typical days of digging new tread and corridor clearing.
We are finishing up a bunch of work on these trails every week, but there is still so much ahead. We will continue to meet the challenge of all our work ahead as we approach the last month of our trail work. We will turn our focus to corridor clearing for the next few hitches to be sure that all the trails are clear for the wilderness users enjoyment.
Hitch #5 
Corridor clearing 10,560 ft
Retread 1050 ft
Check steps 18
Blow down Trees removed 60
Drainage dips installed 78
Bern removal 450 ft
Garbage removal (campsite) 48 lbs
We ha another fantastic week in the Joyce Kilmer/Slick rock Wilderness! The focus of this hitch was Stratton Bald trail. This beautiful trail is located on the western edge of the wilderness. The trail mostly follows a ridge line from Rattler Ford campground at 2000 ft 61/2 miles to Bob Bald at 5341ft. The forest is diverse along the way ranging from old growth popular stands, to Hemlock forests, and Rhododendron thickets. There are many blueberry bushes along the way to which we stop for an occasional berry here and there. Of course we make sure there are plenty for the bears! We have noticed on the ground the presence of black bears getting plenty of black and blueberries!
The group faced the challenge of digging drainage on a 0% slope in many places. The water has nowhere to go but down most of this trail, so getting a slope in drainage is a ton of work. We installed 78 drainage dips in about ¾ of a mile of damaged trail. In that one section 18 more check steps were installed and we plan to do more! Since we have witnessed all kinds of trails we are really learning why trail science has come so far! This trail was not built like they teach us today and the repercussions of that are some extreme maintaince issues due to heavy erosion.
The lower half of the trail does not have the same problems. It was well designed and is benched into a side hill. There were sections that we needed to rebench, but the trail was in overall good shape. We are also working on reestablishing the corridor on this section. The wilderness always tries to fill in a trail and we work hard to open it back up. Over 2 miles were trimmed back using loppers and the weed whip. Also 60 trees were removed from across the trail tread.
The group is all troopers about digging and lopping. Our trails have needed a bunch of work and everyone puts in their fullest each day. We had several heavy rains this week and everyone remains in good spirits. A wise man once told me “A rainy day on the trail is better than any day in an office”. I thought of this quote several times this week, and found myself smiling at the rain.
Hitch #4 
Education/ outreach 1 day
Check steps 13
Check Dams 22
Drainage dips installed 2
Dirt moved 55 bags
This hitch we took on new trails and different types of projects. Despite a cruddy cough mid summer funk that hit the group, everyone took great care of themselves and performed at an amazing level. The projects consisted of lifting, carrying, and strategically placing many locust logs and bags of mineral soil! No one in this group needs a gym! We are getting svelte and strong the good old fashion way!
We started off our hitch in Big Fat Gap. This location has 4 trails that branch out from… you guessed it a “Big Fat” gap. Both sides of this gap are very steep and are washing out. We decided the best way to hold back the bank was with locust timber stairs. That way it will be easier for the public to walk up the hill, and the hill will become stabilized by the logs holding back the soil. This was a fun project for all and gave us something different to accomplish other than the typical brushing and digging drainage dips.
Alex came to visit the group from Boise and we attended a great event in Asheville! The Americas Great Outdoors listening sessions was an awesome opportunity for the group to get the word out about what we are doing, and for the group to hear about other great outdoor achievements and ideas that are happening in Western NC. We celebrated our half way point this week and everyone agrees that the time is flying! We have accomplished so much and it is excellent to see all the transformations we have put into Joyce Kilmer coming together.
The second half of the hitch was spent on the Stratton Bald trail. This is a fall line trail that is heavily eroded. One could mistake this trail as a stream bed! The best solution to this trail was to place many check dams to eventually build the trail soils back up. In a few days the trail really started to transform. We have started the reversal of some erosion that took many years to develop. This whole process will take a few years to fully restore, but eventually the soils will build and walking the trail will be more enjoyable.
There was a ton of signs of Russian Boars on this trail and they are really tearing things up! They have been grubbing the sides of the trail creating a nice trench down each side. We will have our hands full when we start the deberming in this area! We need to teach those boars how to dig trails their technique is all wrong!
Hitch #3 
Trail Corridor brushed Approx 8,470 ft
Blow down removed from trail 32 trees
New trail/ rebenching 4250ft
Rock structures 2
Drainage dips installed 30
Site improvements/garbage removal 2
Another great hitch in Joyce Kilmer! Our week was divided into clearing the upper portion of the Stratton Bald trail and continuing the “Big Dig” on the Naked Ground Trail. It appears that Naked Ground will be the most intense work of the summer. The trail has very steep tread and is built into a steep bank, which has equaled- lots of digging. The group is excited about the progress on this trail and decided to mix it up a bit with the Stratton Bald corridor clearing. It was great to mix up our total body building throughout a hitch. Digging provided an excellent opportunity to build our stomach and back muscles, while lopping and sawing works those arms from the biceps to the triceps! We are all getting strong!
We received our long awaited cross cut saw and it is helping us take out the big old growth trees that make this trail so popular. Our D handle pruning saw is also a surprisingly big help in this process. We have been amazed at what that little saw is capable of cutting. The weed whip has also proved to be a handy tool (we had our doubts). Dan and Tony are mastering the art of taking out thick berry bushes along the trail with powerful swings. The Stratton Bald trail was so grown in you could not see in front of your face for at least half a mile! This trail leads to the most beautiful bald, but you would never know along the way amongst the thickets. Now it is open for all to enjoy without getting bloody scratched arms on your way to the bald.
The group camped at the top of Naked ground trail on the ridge. The views were spectacular and all the days on this hitch were clear as can be. We feel lucky that the sun has been shining each day. We are in a perfect work environment because the trees give us great shade. It may be in the 90’s in town but the woods are comfy. Water is a bit of a challenge, but the group planned well and prepared by pumping water at the beginning and end of each day at the known water source down the hill from camp. We are experiencing an unusual summer with very little water, but when the water comes back the trails will be ready.
We have all our trails scouted now and we are close to moving to the next exciting project. We hate to say goodbye to Naked Ground, but we must move on!!!
Hith #2 
Corridor clearing 1500ft
Berm removal 200ft
New trail/ rebenching 700ft
Check Dam steps 8
Drainage dips installed 55
Dirt moved tons
Another great week on the Naked Ground trail in Joyce Kilmer Wilderness. We are really getting to know this trail personally! Our focus on this hitch was drainage, drainage, drainage. The Naked Ground trail is benched into a very steep hill that is often times on a 75% grade. The trail naturally wants to fall downhill, but we are determined to keep it in the bank! Wherever the trail is falling off the hill and the tread was just 6 inches, we benched it back into the hill to get at least a 24 inch area to give it a fighting chance. In many areas there are rotten trees literally holding the trail together. It seems counterintuitive to pull them out but that is exactly what we needed to do. We pulled out the trees and rebenched into the bank to insure a longer lasting trail. When the trail flattened out we knocked off the berm to make sure that water flows off the trail rather than down the tread.
The check steps we installed were on a hillside that was heavily eroded and had a tread width that was down to 6 inches. This project was a real improvement to the trail! We used our carpenter skills and our master gardening skills on this section. We moved tons of soil to make a more workable slope and supported the bank with beautiful vegetation. As the group would say “It was epic”!
The second half of the hitch was drainage on some very steep terrain. Imagine a trail that increases 1100 ft in the span of one mile. We found a lone locust tree that we are installing to back up the drainage dips in this area. This part of the trail starting at about 3200ft has very rich soil. It is almost impossible to find any good mineral soil but we were determined to get that water off the trail. We ended up the shift creating a 20 ft X 20ft reroute for a washout that appears to occur when we get a heavy rain. We literally redirected a stream so that it doesn’t come down the steep trail. We are nurturing nature to keep the trail as dry as we can, hopefully Mother Nature will agree with our plan!
There were two large old growth trees blocking the trail and hikers were creating trails to get around them. These are not the kind of trees that one can step over, and behind them tends to be a build up of organic soil. This creates a challenging tread repair. Removing the tree can cause the soil above to wash away so we utilized our natural recourses and use the tree wisely. The team worked hard to axe beautiful steps into the trees to allow hikers to pass thru the tree. On the other side of the tree we backed the trail up with drainage dips.
Our agency contact Dwayne came out for a visit on Tuesday. He was pleased with the work we have completed so far. This was encouraging for the whole group to have a professional trail builder tell us that he liked what he was seeing. We also had a hiker report that he had walked the Naked Ground
trail about a month ago and found this trip much more enjoyable. He was able to really see the differences since his last visit was so fresh in his memory.
The hitch was full of beautiful days. We had mostly dry weather and although the surrounding cities were in the 90’s we stayed much cooler because of the height we work at and the lush vegetation over head. Nature provides us with natural air conditioning!
EJ Wallace 
Hi my name is Edward Wallace (aka E.J.). I was born in Orange County New York, and lived there in there for the first sixteen years of my life. Shortly after my sixteenth birthday I moved to California and since then haven't remained in the same place for more than a year. I enjoy work that challenges me mentally and physically. I am passionate about art, music, and Shochiku films. I also enjoy reading self-improvement and nonfiction books. I am computer literate and my alphabetic keying is close to 80gwam. I'm currently a member of an SCA trail crew in North Carolina and so far the experience has been enthralling.
Dan Reudin 
Matt Regan 
Matt was born, raised and went to school in Buffalo, New York. He graduated from the University at Buffalo with a Bachelor's in Fine Arts with a concentration in computer art. After college he moved to Washington, D.C. where he did a year of volunteer service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. He worked at an after-school tutoring program with at-risk youth and a senior service center. At the senior service center he helped seniors with affordable housing, Medicare and setting up a community food pantry. After his year of volunteer service he stayed in Washington, D.C and worked at a non-profit organization where he helped people with HIV/AIDS, cancer and hospice patients get free food. Matt has travelled to Ireland, Spain, Alaska, Hawaii and Nova Scotia, Canada. In his spare time he enjoys hiking, biking, running, camping, cooking spicy vegetarian food and reading comic books. He's very interested in forestry, conservation biology, ecology, sustainable living and environmental science. One day Matt hopes to be employed by the US Forest Service as a forest ranger, forester or conservation biologist. He's very excited to be working in the Nantahala Forest and hopes to do some kayaking and mountain biking when he's not working on the trail.
Tony Kiger 
My name is Tony D. Kiger. I am from the upstate of South Carolina. I graduated from Clemson University with a bachelors of science in Agriculture Mechanization and Business degree. I have worked building houses and doing construction grading work. In my free time I enjoy mountain biking, fishing, and hiking. I enjoy anything that has to do with the outdoors.
Erin Cochran 
I Grew up on Ft. Bragg in North Carolina and will be receiving my degree in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management from NC State University upon completion of thisinternship. I have previous work experience as a lifeguard, pool manager, and swim instructor. In my free time I enjoy exploring, taking pictures, learning, and looking at/listening to other people's art.
Hitch #1 
Trail Corridor brushed Approx 3 miles or 15,830 ft
Blow down removed from trail 18 trees
New trail/ rebenching 600ft
Structures removed 2
Drainage dips installed 5
Dirt moved tons
Our first day on hitch we hiked the Naked ground trail 3 miles and we noticed it needed a lot of help to keep it an established trail. The thickets of rhododendrons grow into the trail whenever they are given the opportunity. Lots of rain and blow down provide a perfect environment for the rhodo to grow rampant. We spent the first half of the hitch becoming proficient in the art of clearing corridor in the wilderness. There was much to cut out and to hide away from the trail. This is no small feat on a steep old growth trail. Our goal was for the trail to not look cut at all, and we certainly took pride in making that happen.
Of course, there was plenty of large blow down mixed into the trail corridor clearing. Some of these trees were small but several were mighty large. There was a particularly large hemlock across a small stream that made a natural “bridge” but in the current condition it was not at all passable. After clearing away the many branches and cutting a walk able surface into the log it made a great bridge! (See before and after below)
The group excelled in making do with the tools we had. It was a great time for the whole group to master the single bit axe. Everyone had plenty of opportunity to hone axe swinging skills in order to get 18 trees out of the trail tread. Dan had a boot blowout that allowed him a more stationary day of full- on axe swinging.
Many muscles were built during this shift! Lopping and sawing was an all-day affair for several days, too. The digging of new trail tread was sprinkled in as needed. I am still a fan of the hazel hoe, but the mattock worked so well when we needed to cut through a root or break up a rock!
The old saying goes “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?” Well I can’t answer that question directly but I can attest that an old growth hemlock makes a big sound when it falls and one is nearby. We had a bunch of rain this hitch and the dead trees became saturated. We were on our way out of the worksite on the 3rd day and there was some noise on the other side of the river. Within a minute there was a huge tree that took its last fall, and we witnessed and felt the tree come down to its final resting place. We know the chances of this are very small and we were glad that we were on the other side of the river.
The group worked together to help our new member EJ feel welcomed and to get him up to speed on what he missed from training. The group is in the early stages of forming and is learning how to cooperate and work effectively together. The few things that have come up as different opinions have been smoothed out in a respectful manner. The group is heading into the next hitch with a clear understanding of how to interact with one another. This will be important in communicating ideas, and meeting individual needs in the future. We are establishing a safe environment ready for the group to grow together.
Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness, created in 1975, covers 17,394 acres in the Nantahala National Forest in western North Carolina and the Cherokee National Forest in eastern Tennessee, in the watersheds of the Slickrock and Little Santeetlah Creeks. It is named after Joyce Kilmer, author of "Trees." The Little Santeetlah and Slickrock watersheds contain 5,926 acres of old growth forest,one of the largest tracts in the United States east of the Mississippi River.
The Babcock Lumber Company logged roughly two-thirds of the Slickrock Creek watershed before the construction of Calderwood Dam in 1922 flooded the company's railroad access and put an end to logging operations in the area. In the 1930s, the U.S. Veterans of Foreign Wars asked the U.S. Forest Service to create a memorial forest for Kilmer, a poet and journalist who had been killed in World War I. After considering millions of acres of forest land throughout the U.S., the Forest Service chose an undisturbed 3,800-acre (15 km2) patch along Little Santeetlah Creek, which it dedicated as the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest in 1936.
The sources of both Slickrock Creek and Little Santeetlah Creek are located high in the Unicoi Mountains, on opposite slopes of Stratton Bald, a 5,360-foot (1,630 m) grassy bald overlooking the southwest corner of the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness. Slickrock Creek rises on Stratton's northwestern slope and flows northeastward to its mouth along the Cheoah River. Little Santeetlah rises on Stratton's southeastern slope and flows southeastward to its mouth along Santeetlah Creek.
Joyce Kilmer Memorial
The Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest along Little Santeetlah Creek is a rare example of an old growth cove hardwood forest, an extremely diverse forest type unique to the Appalachian Mountains. Although there are many types of trees in Joyce Kilmer, dominant species include poplar, hemlock, red and white oak, basswood, beech, and sycamore. Many of the trees in Joyce Kilmer are over 400 years old. The largest rise to heights of over 100 feet and have circumferences of up to 20 feet. The Slickrock Creek basin is coated primarily by a mature second-growth cove hardwood forest, although a substantial old growth stand still exists in its upper watershed.