Monday, August 3, 2015

2003 AHS Volunteer Trail Project at Virginia's Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area

This American Hiking Society volunteer program was hosted by Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in Virginia which was established in 1966 and protects about 200,000 acres of land of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. It is a recreation area offering over 500 miles of trails, including 60 miles of the famed Appalachian Trail, 18 miles of the Virginia Creeper Trail, and 67 miles of the Virginia Highland Horse Trail. It has 11 campgrounds, four of which cater to horse parties. It is named for the founder of MIT and the state's first geologist, William Barton Rogers.

Evan, Lee, Tarek, and Sherri (in background) dig out the side hill to widen the trail tread surface. Erosion had caused the trail to slough off over a period of years, narrowing it and thus endangering hikers. We performed a variety of maintenance chores on four trails during our project, and each trail ran through magnificent scenery. With 500 miles of trails, they were grateful for our assistance.

On another trail, Tarek, Chuck, Evan, and Lee pose by the trail crossing of Feathercamp Branch.  On the left side of this photo below, you can see the trail coming down to the creek. A huge nature-made dam of downed trees and miscellaneous debris had rerouted the stream onto the trail and eroded away over half of its width. We gathered nearby rocks and boulders and filled the deep hole that had been just behind us and rebuilt to missing trail section, making the trail usable again. We also "rebuilt" the lovely cascading stream, making several gentle cascades, and returned it to its normal course and natural beauty.

Tom, Daphne, Sarah, Carie, and Lee enlarge the trail, cut back encroaching vegetation, and smooth the surface to improve safety and enhance the hikers' trail experience. Notice the safety gear used by the volunteers: hard hats, gloves, and baseball catcher leg pads.

Here was yet another place where erosion had sloughed over half the trail off the mountainside and down into the creek. We gathered rocks from the creek and the surrounding hillsides and rebuilt the trail tread of rock...

...making it look like this. Hopefully this with withstand many years of rainfall and still be functional as a solid and safe trail.

Removing fallen trees was another of our major duties on our four assigned trails.

The hard-working crew: 
Front row (l to r): Lee, Evan (our Forest Service leader), Tarek, and John
Back row: Tom, Daphne, Chuck, Sarah, Carie, and Sherri

And if you think you're seeing double, you're not. Those are the twins, Sarah and Carrie, who were a delight to work with.  This was their graduation present from their parents -- a week away from home in the woods working hard!


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