Sunday, August 2, 2015

2004 AHS Volunteer Trail Project on the Florida Trail

The Florida Trail Association builds, maintains, protects, and promotes the 1300 mile long Florida National Scenic Trail which runs from Big Cypress National Preserve in Everglades territory all the way north and west to the panhandle, ending at Gulf Islands National Seashore. It is one of 11 National Scenic Trails in our country. It is divided into nine segments, all of which have free downloadable maps and info.
"Cutting trail" in most places in our country involves laborious digging with Pulaskis and other tools, but in Florida it means running the DR All Terrain Mower through the thick underbrush. In this photo we are creating a new trail section to bypass a lowland area that often floods. Billy, one of the officers of the trail club, makes the second of four passes through the new trail corridor. Then other volunteers clip back encroaching foliage, chop out roots and tree stumps that could trip hikers or re-grow, and blaze trees with the Florida Trail's orange painted rectangle to mark the new trail. I would then walk the old trail section and scrape off the old orange blazes. Of course, since Florida has a lengthy growing season, trail volunteers must frequently mow the Florida Trail to keep the trail from returning to a wild state, so constant maintenance in required.

Here is a view of the new trail snaking through the dense undergrowth. We rerouted three sections of trail which had either been prone to flooding or followed old logging roads, for a total of about two miles of new trail. At one point, we met two through-hikers (Bamboo Bob and Corncob), and it is always rewarding to see that your hard work is being used and appreciated by hikers.

Another project we were assigned was construction of this 32 foot long bridge that is 11 feet above the gully bottom and eliminates a detour around the ravine. 

Now hikers can cross the ravine without the detour down into it and back up the other side, and hikers also are spared hiking through mud when the bottom of the ravine was wet and muddy.

The construction crew finished the bridge project so quickly that the hosts had to find additional projects for us, including constructing a picnic table and three rest benches for hikers and then installing them in locations affording nice views of the Suwannee River. We also constructed two fence lines to keep ATVs out of prohibited areas.

Here is the entire crew, both AHS and FTA volunteers:

standing (l to r): Lynn, Chuck, Jim, Alton (our FTA host), Max, Bob, Fred, Billy, Larry, and Jack
seated (l to r): Charlie, Katie, Eileen, Paula, Linda, and Joe (our AHS crew leader)

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