Monday, August 11, 2014

Weeks 2 & 3: May 15-19, & May 23-27

Weeks 2 & 3: May 15-19, & May 23-27, 2014

Crew 1: Grassy Gap Relocation in Georgia

Impressive log cribbing with the team that built it.
A two-week Konnarock project in Georgia in the spring has become something of a tradition for the Konnarock Crew in recent years--and like any great tradition it gets more popular as the years go by!

Because the crew has to travel so far from Base Camp for this project, we need volunteers who are willing to work two weeks back-to back. Despite this major time commitment, many alumni crew members requested the Georgia project and signed up early.
Why is the Georgia project a perennial favorite? Here's a countdown of the top 3 reasons!

#3: North Georgia is a wild wonderland!
The inviting Georgia A.T...
As A.T. hikers know, the Georgia mountains are gorgeous--especially in the spring, when the waterfalls are gushing and the forest is festooned with wildflowers. To avoid a long drive back to Base Camp, the crew stayed in Georgia for the three days off between weeks 2 and 3--which gave them plenty of time to rest up and explore! They used their days off to visit Amicalola Falls near the A.T.'s southern terminus on Springer Mountain, Neel Gap, and Brasstown Bald--the high point of Georgia!

Building a rock crib wall around a tricky hunk of bedrock.
 #2 Work To Be Proud Of
The rugged Georgia A.T. gets hit hard each spring by crowds of aspiring thru-hikers, so it needs a lot of T.L.C. Fortunately, the volunteers of the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club (GATC) work hard year-round to keep the Trail in great shape, and they rally each spring to help Konnarock accomplish the major Trail improvements they have planned.

This year's Georgia project was the Grassy Gap Relocation. Due to new development within view of the Trail, about half a mile of the A.T. near Suches, GA is being relocated. GATC volunteers came out in great numbers to work alongside the Konnarock Crew each day, digging new sidehill trail out of a steep slope and building impressive stone and log structures around obstacles like bedrock and giant tree roots.

The satisfied crib wall crew with their finished tread!
With two work weeks and lots of help from GATC members, the Konnarock Crew made truly satisfying progress on this relocation: they built all but 600 feet of the relocation! The new trail includes about 60 cubic feet of crib walls, 11 steps and 4 waterbars for drainage. GATC continues to work on this project and expects to open the new trail soon!

Chowing down at the end-of-week party!
And the #1 reason Konnarock alumni keep coming back to Georgia...

Southern Hospitality!

Not only does the GATC come out to work with the Konnarock Crew, they really show their appreciation for the crew's hard work. For the fourth year in a row, Tom and Vivian Lamb hosted the crew for an end-of week party complete with great food, a campfire, and live local bluegrass music (extremely local--the Lambs have some talented neighbors!). GATC member Tom Ottinger opened his doors to the crew and let them clean up, rest, and recover at his home on their days off. It takes a special kind of person to open his doors to 12 strangers after they've spent 5 days digging in the mud and camping!

Thank you, GATC, for making Crew 1's two weeks in Georgia so festive and memorable!

And many thanks to the great crew of Konnarock volunteers who found 2 weeks to give back to the A.T.!
Drying out all the tents in Tom Ottinger's yard.

Scroll down for a few more Georgia photos, and to find out what Crew 2 was up to.

And to see all of Crew 1's photos from Weeks 2 & 3 in Georgia, visit the album on ATC's flickr page.

Yanking out a stump with the griphoist!
Dinnertime in camp.


Two weeks together can make the crew silly...
Improvised trash-bag rain poncho.

The whole Georgia crew!

Meanwhile, in Virginia, Crew 2 was making A.T. history!


Crew 2: New River Relocation

Digging in Week 2.
Crew 2 also spent Weeks 2 & 3 building an A.T. relocation, but they had an ambitious deadline to strive for.

For the past 8 summers, Konnarock has been working on one of the largest, most critical relocation projects on the Trail: the New River Relocation. The purpose of this 5.7 mile relocation between the New River and Rice Field Shelter north of Pearisburg, VA, is to move 1.2 miles of the Trail off of privately owned land and on to a scenic corridor where it will remain protected from development.
Week 2: Log steps to stabilize a steep spot.

This year the project took a huge leap forward thanks to a donated easement from the Celanese Corporation, help from the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, a generous donation from Columbia Natural Gas, and a massive effort from local A.T. volunteers over the winter and spring. Thanks to those partners and the many work days of volunteers from the Outdoor Club at Virginia Tech (OCVT), Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC), Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club (NBATC), and the A.T. Communities™ of Pearisburg and Narrows, the relocation was almost ready to be opened to hikers this spring!

Crew Leader Bobby Berry pounds in a wooden stake!

Why all the hurry? To convert the Celanese plant in Pearisburg to cleaner-burning natural gas, a pipeline is being built that will cross the A.T.'s former location on Celanese property. In order to get the northbound thru-hikers out of the construction zone, the relocation had to be opened June 1.

All that remained to be built was about 1,000 feet of EXTREMELY steep sidehill trail. This was tough digging, with huge stumps to pull, lots of steps to install to stabilize the steeper sections, and massive amounts of earth to move with primitive tools. 


Giles County local John Appelquist attacks a stump.

Fortunately, the Week 2 and 3 crews were EXTREMELY tough, and ready for the challenge! Through rain and shine and roots and rocks, they pushed on and built the final connector of the whole relocation, the culmination of over 30 years of efforts to locate the Trail in a protected corridor near the New River!

The New River Relocation opened to hikers right on time: June 1, 2014. Less than 1% of the whole A.T. is now located on unprotected private land. For more background on this historic triumph of A.T. conservation, click here to view the latest issue of A.T. Journeys magazine.

This is now the Appalachian Trail!
Crew 2's weeks at New River weren't all mud-slinging and stump-pulling, though. The A.T. Communities of Pearisburg and Narrows gave the crews an extremely warm welcome to beautiful Giles County. 

Week 2, the Town of Pearisburg sponsored a cookout for the crew at Whitt Riverbend Park alongside the New River. The Crew enjoyed meeting locals from this official A.T. Community who had helped build the relocation, relaxing alongside the river, and feasting on hot dogs and hamburgers!

Ralph Robertson from Narrows came out to work with the crew!
Week 3, the Narrows Now Trail Club from the A.T. Community™ of Narrows, VA hosted the Crew at a picnic alongside Wolf Creek in downtown Narrows. The crew had a great time jumping in Wolf Creek to clean up and cool off, and meeting members of an enthusiastic new trail club in this picturesque small town.

Many thanks to all the volunteers who lent their sweat and muscle to get the relocation opened, and much thanks to the communities of Giles County for their support!
Please scroll down for photos from Week 3.

To see all of the photos from Crew 2 Week 2, click here.

And for the whole photo album from Crew 2 Week 3, click here.

Week 2's Crew 2 at the New River Relocation!

Week 3's cozy field camp.
Crumbsnatcher the A.T. Shelter Mouse has a new tent!

All smiles digging into a steep slope.

Solid new trail, built to last.
Break time!

Game of PELT at the Narrows picnic.

Ribbon cutting for the new trail Week 3! GREAT WORK, CREW 2!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Week 1: May 5-11, 2014

Grayson Highlands Supercrew!

Ready to hike in the first day!

The Konnarock Crew kicked off its 2014 season in one of the most beloved areas of the southern A.T.: the Grayson Highlands!

This area is famous for open balds, sweeping views, the highest peak in Virginia, and herds of feral ponies.

Building rock steps to check erosion, before this trail becomes a ditch.
Thin soils and heavy foot traffic, however, make the Trail in  the Highlands prone to erosion and drainage problems. The Konnarock Crew was tasked with heavy rehab work to prevent further damage and support the year-round efforts of the local volunteer trail maintaining club, Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club (MRATC).

This durable rock waterbar may outlive these crew members!
For this special project, Crews 1 and 2 combined forces into a SUPERCREW! Although the two crews split up to work in different areas each day, they camped together and worked within a few miles of each other all week.

Special thanks to Grayson Highlands State Park for providing space in their campground for the Supercrew! The crew enjoyed luxuries like toilets that aren't available every week.

Ponies wandering through the work site. One has a white blaze on its side!
You can see some of the Supercrew's impressive handiwork below! They installed rock steps to check erosion, stepping stones in flat muddy spots, and waterbars to channel water away from the tread.

Enjoying some local color at Phipps Store.
Even after all that work, some crew members had the energy to catch a bit of authentic mountain music at Phipps Store one evening.

Crew 1!

At the end of the week, MRATC provided a great potluck for the Crew to show their appreciation for the help on the section they maintain. Many thanks to all the volunteers, staff, and agency partners who helped make the first week of the 2014 Konnarock season such a success!

Crew 2 with one of the Highlands' many boulders.
The crew got an impressive amount of work done thanks to mostly-cooperative weather and a full roster of volunteers! Volunteer turnout has been great for the beginning of the season--but we have lots of spaces to fill in some of the later weeks. We need help weeks 6, 8, 10, and 11 in particular. Tell all your friends to sign up today, so we can keep this productive streak going and make sure the projects later in the season get the attention they deserve!


Click here to view the 2014 Konnarock season schedule, and look for the "Volunteer Today" button to get started with registration.

And for more pictures from Week 1, click here to visit the album on ATC's flickr page.

Stepping stones for a spot that turns into a mudhole in the rain.
Crumbsnatcher the A.T. Shelter Mouse is back for another season!
Trail Crew with a view!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday

We just had to share this photo that Anna Ball recently posted to ATC's facebook page: Konnarock Trail Crew in the late 80s!

The Konnarock Crew has been making trailwork look good since 1983. Join the legacy this summer!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Base Camp Clean-Up Week!

Base Camp Clean-Up Week!

This week, a group of all-star A.T. volunteers from Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club (MRATC)Piedmont Appalachian Trail Hikers (PATH), and Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club (NBATC) assembled at Konnarock Base Camp to get the facility into shipshape condition after the long, harsh winter.

Checking all the loaner volunteer tents.

From blowing away last fall's leaves to fixing broken lights, painting over graffiti, checking out tents, and giving EVERYTHING a good scrubbing, these dedicated volunteers got an amazing amount of work done to ensure the facility will be a comfortable and functional home base for the 2014 Konnarock Crew.

Replacing the screen door on a pod.
Konnarock Base Camp is a US Forest Service facility in beautiful Sugar Grove, Virginia. We are grateful to the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area for the opportunity to use the trail camp for another Konnarock season!

Thank you Janet Gibbons, Sylvia Swain, Terry Kammer, Doug DeJarnette, Wilbur and Jane Garganus, Dannon McKinnon, Bobby Berry, Ron Hudnell, and Anne Maio!

These clean coolers say "FEED ME!!"

A special thanks to Janet for cooking for the volunteers all week, and to Wilbur for his electrical know-how and hours spent up a ladder repairing the outdoor lights!

It's not too late to join the tradition of volunteerism that built the A.T. and continues to improve and protect it for future generations. Sign up for a week on the Konnarock Crew today!

Who's in charge here? They went thataway!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Meet the 2014 Konnarock Crew Staff!!


We're very excited to introduce this year's excellent Konnarock Crew Staff! They are getting ready to lead volunteers on 12 weeks of important, interesting construction projects on the southern A.T. 

Want to join the adventure and give back to the Trail? Click here to sign up for a session of Konnarock today!

Czar with longtime Konnarock volunteer Sylvia Swain

Name: David Hebert
Position: Base Camp Coordinator
Trail name: Louisiana Bear 
Known around Base Camp as: Czar 
Hometown: Saint Amant, Louisiana
Experience with the A.T.: 2001 Thru-Hiker (NOBO), numerous section hikes 
Trail Crew Experience:  12 years as Base Camp Coordinator for Konnarock Crew; 5 years as Base Camp Coordinator of Mid-Atlantic Crew; 5 sessions on the Mid-Atlantic Crew and 2 sessions on the Rocky Top Crew as a volunteer 
Other talents: Plays guitar and most recently the banjo, fancies himself "pretty good" at Scrabble
Favorite memory of an outdoor adventure: 2001 A.T. Thru-hike 
Favorite place on the A.T.: McAfee Knob and Mt. Katahdin
Why he's looking forward to the Konnarock 2014 season: Gives him a chance to meet new people and see old acquaintances.
What he loves about the Konnarock Trail Crew:  It's a chance to give back to the AT, after all it has given him.

Name: Bobby Berry  
Position: Crew Leader
Trail name: Muffin Man 
Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas  
Experience with the A.T.: Thru hiked the A.T. in 2011 and has since hiked about 300 more miles in sections. Member of the Mt. Rogers A.T. Club and newly appointed maintainer for Massie Gap to Thomas Knob Shelter.
 Trail Crew Experience: Worked as a Trail Crew Leader for the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) in 2012, and volunteered with Konnarock, Mid-Atlantic, PATC, and Rocky Top the same year. Konnarock and Rocky Top Crew Leader in 2013. He has also volunteered with SAWS and the DRAFT crews on numerous projects.
Other talents: Foosball, Chess, and putting his foot behind his head. 
Favorite memory of an outdoor adventure: His first true backpacking trip into the La Garita Wilderness area in Colorado--sleeping under a tarp and running through the woods.  
Favorite place on the A.T.: The Presidential Range in the White Mountains in NH, where you first leave the treeline--with the sweeping views and the trail running along the ridge in view the whole way up.  
Why he's looking forward to the Konnarock 2014 season: Seeing old friends and familiar projects, and making new friends on new projects.  
What he loves about the Konnarock Trail Crew: The volunteers! There is nothing like being in the woods getting dirty with instant friends. And the volunteers at Konnarock bring a special kind of excitement to share in the traditions and create new ones.

Name: Jerry Kyle
Position: Crew Leader
Hometown: Alderson, West Virginia
Experience with the A.T.: Member Roanoke ATC, section maintainer for 8 years.
Trail Crew Experience: 11-year Konnarock alumni, plus Rocky Top & Mid-Atlantic experience
Other talents: Paramedic with 34 years experience in prehospital medicine
Favorite memory of an outdoor adventure: Going into Hellhole Cave, WV (160' vertical drop) with his dad when he was 65 years old.
Favorite place on the A.T.: The section he maintains: Lickskillet Hollow to Kimberling Creek in Bland County, Virginia.
Why he's looking forward to the Konnarock 2014 season: Finally having the opportunity to participate all 12 weeks!!!
What he loves about the Konnarock Trail Crew: The sense of accomplishment at the end of a workday, workweek, or project.  Performing rewarding, tangible work and learning new skills!  Meeting new people and seeing new places.  Being outside and eating well! 

Name: Sarah Ford Position: Assistant Crew Leader 
Hometown: Rutherfordton, North Carolina 
Experience with the A.T.: Plans to thru-hike the A.T. in the near future! 
Trail Crew Experience: Spent the last year working with Americorps on trail projects including rock retaining walls, drainage ditches, erosion control, fuels reduction, and rehabilitation.
Other talents: Head stands, climbing rocks, piecing together puzzles. 
Favorite memory of an outdoor adventure: Exploring through the backcountry of Kolob Canyons looking for petroglyphs, unsolved mysteries in the rock, and lurking desert creatures.
Why she's looking forward to the Konnarock 2014 season: The beauty that lies in the people she will meet, the sunsets and sunrises, and the knowledge she will gain working on the Appalachian Trail.
What she loves about the Konnarock Trail Crew: She already treasures the enthusiasm everyone has about the Crew and their positive attitude about preserving and bettering the Appalachian Trail.  

Name: Davis Wax
Position: Assistant Crew Leader
Konnarock name: Rooster
Hometown: Concord, North Carolina
Experience with the AT: Hiking and maintaining various portions with ATC Trail Crews from Tennessee/North Carolina to New York
Trail Crew Experience: Since 2012 he has volunteered 5 sessions with Konnarock, 3 with Mid-Atlantic, and 3 with Rocky Top. He has also worked with the Jolly Rovers Trail Crew and the Tahawus Trails company on trail projects in NY.
Other talents: Running short distances, writing short journalism, and cooking flapjacks.
Favorite memory of an outdoor adventure: Playing pony whisperer in the Grayson Highlands.
Favorite place on the A.T.: Any place you can watch the sun rise in the Smokies.
Why he's looking forward to the Konnarock 2014 season: Traveling to various A.T. spots in the south, seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones, and improving his trail maintenance and leadership skills.
What he loves about the Konnarock Trail Crew: The amazing sense of camaraderie and good humor, the many outdoor adventures to be had, and the program's commitment to quality trail maintenance and environmental preservation for the AT.

Base Camp anxiously awaits the arrival of the legendary Konnarock Trail Crew!