Thursday, August 13, 2015

Week 5: June 10-14, 2015

Crew 1: Backbone Rock Relocation in Tennessee

From Assistant Crew Leader Davis Wax:

Crew 1 visited Backbone Rock Trail -- a blue blaze trail connecting to the A.T. just south of Damascus, V.A. -- for their second consecutive week this summer. The crew worked alongside the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club to finish an almost 2,000-foot section of new trail, removing a steep, badly eroded section of the footpath.

Besides digging new sidehill trail, the crew also installed some log cribbing to protect large tree roots and to hold up the tread. Crew 1 also installed check dams to slow down water erosion on the old steep trail and pulled in large amounts of brush to hide it from view.

The crew got to stay at a great campsite. They woke up each morning to an open field of wildflowers surrounded by a wooded area, all managed by the Nature Conservancy. Fireflies put on light shows at night and the open skies yielded views of the milky way when it cleared up. On their down time the crew played the card game Werewolf and lots of Pelt, a mixture of hackey sack and dodge ball.

This week there was an international mixture into the crew, as one volunteer traveling across the globe hailed from China and another from Australia. Both of these volunteers will be with us at least one more week, and six others from Crew 1 & 2 will be back as well. We look forward to working with these volunteers again next week!

Leanna Joyner, Patrick Slaughter, and Allison Williams visited from the ATC Asheville office, bringing up fresh fruit for the crew and joining them for an afternoon of work.

The club treated the crew to a homemade barbecue dinner on their second to last day and thanked them by giving out 50-hour Tennessee Eastman patches for doing a week of work in the club's section. The club also supplied Crew 1 with some blue paint in order to paint new blazes on the very last day of work.

Crew 1 thanks all of the club members and other visitors it had for week five -- with your help we were able dig over 900 feet of new trail and finish the relocation!

See all the photos from Week 5, Crew 1 at

Crew 2: New River Relocation near Pearisburg, VA

From Assistant Crew Leader Sarah Ford:

During week 5 at Konnarock, nine amazing people came to tackle an important project that has many challenges. 

Click here for some interesting background about this major Trail relocation from the Summer 2014 issue of A.T. Journeys magazine.

We had several Konnarock alumni in the group, some multi-week crew members, and some new volunteers making for a good mixture of folks. 

During the week, there was loads of crushed rock made with sledge hammers in order to fill behind crib walls and set rock steps. When the rain came, we would switch to digging sidehill tread to avoid the slippery rock work. 

To dig sidehill on this project, you have to go through about 8-12 inches of duff covering the ground, then 2-4 feet of rock rubble underneath that has to be removed. Once all that is moved, finally there is a nice layer of mineral soil! Digging sidehill is no joke at this site. 

Many games of contact and person/place/thing were played during these hours. When we were back at camp after dinner, games of werewolf entertained the crew before bed.  

One night, several of us walked to Rice Fields to watch the sunset. Rice Fields is a beautiful open field along the crest of Peters Mountain. The Trail runs right along the Virginia-West Virginia state line here, with expansive views into West Virginia.

As the group came into the field, a rainbow greeted us in the clearing along with many hikers posted up at the lookout. It made for an evening full of great pictures and good fellowship.

For more photos from Week 5 Crew 2, visit

Week 4: May 30-June 3, 2015

Crew 2: Highcock Knob Relocation in Central Virginia

From Assistant Crew Leader Davis Wax:

Week Four of Konnarock saw Crew 2 working in the James River Face Wilderness of Virginia for its second time this season.

Continuing to relocate the A.T. near Highcock Knob, the crew worked on a large rock crib wall -- over 60 cubic feet (!) -- to get around a bluff where the newly dug tread had hit outsloping bedrock during week two.

The crib wall called for lots of rock-moving and crush-making which the crew jumped to do enthusiastically.

The volunteers also dug new trail and set a few rock steps for the tie-in areas on either end of the 450-foot-long relocation so each section would blend in seamlessly with the current trail.

Throughout the week, the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club supported the crew with a great hand of help. The club helped dig new trail, move large rocks for the crib wall, crush rock for fill, and helped close out the old trail by crosscutting logs for check dams -- cut logs laid in the trail to slow down water erosion and prevent sediment displacement.

The club also provided a potluck barbecue dinner for the crew on their second day of work. Thanks goes out to Natural Bridge for their aid to Konnarock this week -- it was much appreciated!

When the crew wasn't working in the James River Face they were camping at Cave Mountain Lake Campground where they played camp games, swam in the campground lake, cooked up pancakes, and enjoyed the camaraderie of NBATC member Doug DeJarnette who camped with the crew all week and provided a cooler of cold drinks every day.

Once the major work on the crib wall was done, the crew closed down the old piece of steep trail.They placed brush in the old tread and set check dams and transplanted bushes and small trees to help the old, eroded trail recover. The crew also got to paint new white blazes on the new trail thanks to aid and instruction from NBATC member Trudy Philips.

Konnarock had a blast helping out Natural Bridge ATC with this relocation project, and looks forward to beginning a new relocation in the James River Face later in July of this year!

The crew also got extra help from Tye River Ridgerunner Regina Reiter and ATC Regional Director Andrew Downs! They each joned the crew for one day of work -- Andy helped with the crib wall and Regina helped decommission the old trail by brushing it in and placing check dams.

For more photos from Week 4 Crew 2, visit

Crew 1: Backbone Rock Relocation in Tennessee

From Assistant Crew Leader Sarah Ford:
Crew 2 wrapped up the first month of Konnarock right near Damascus, Virginia at Backbone Rock.

Ten enthusiastic volunteers ventured out into the field to see what it was like to work on building a brand new section of trail.

During the week, we had great turnout from local members of the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club (TEHCC). TEHCC proudly maintains 127 miles of the A.T., right up to the Virginia-Tennessee border which was not far from where we were working.

With the help of the local TEHCC members, the Konnarock Crew constructed 990 feet of new sidehill trail!

The new section includes two sets of beautiful locust log staircases which were necessary because of the steepness of the trail. Without the staircases, over time the steep spots would become eroded.

The last night of the crew week, the Trail Club provided a homemade dinner of pulled pork, coleslaw, and banana pudding.

Thanks TEHCC, and thanks to all the great Konnarock volunteers of Week 4!

For more photos from Week 4 Crew 1, visit

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Week 3: May 22-26, 2015

Konnarock Crew members and GATC volunteers carrying a big rock

 CREW 1: WEEKS 2 & 3 in Georgia

From Assistant Crew Leader Davis Wax:

For Weeks Two and Three, Crew 1 headed south to Georgia to work in the Tray Mountain Wilderness rehabbing the A.T. north of Tray Mountain.

Konnarock projects in Wilderness Areas are extra-special! 

The mission was to fix "trail creep"– when trail is pushed down slope due to erosion and hiker traffic – and build various rock and log structures to help control water erosion and protect very steep sections of trail.

The crew spent the first week digging tread to fix trail creep, putting in rock steps, and building a rock culvert over a natural seep.
Cutting stakes to support log steps.
GATC member and awesome party host Tom Lamb.

The second week was spent fixing more trail creep, putting in more rock steps, and putting in new log steps where previous log steps were too high or had rotted out.

Since the group was working in a Wilderness Area, where chainsaws are prohibited, a crosscut saw was used to cut down locust timbers and cut them into step-sized pieces.

Amicalola Falls.
The Georgia Appalachian Trail Club came out to work with the crew both weeks, totaling 21 total volunteers and over 400 hours of work. GATC member Tom Ottinger camped with the crew the first week, worked with the crew each day, and then hosted Konnarock at his home in Ellijay during the three days the crew had off.

Another club member, Tom Lamb, worked with the crew multiple days and camped with the crew on their second week. Tom also hosted two dinner parties for the crew after each week, offering grilled salmon and onions, grilled chicken, local kale greens, and his own homebrewed beer. Some of the crew got to kayak and canoe the Etowah River close by and the Three Arrows, a young group of old time string musicians, put on a great show for the crew both weeks at Tom’s.


The crew had many adventures on their days off. Amicalola Falls, downtown Dahlonega, and Brasstown Bald – the highest point in Georgia – were all eagerly sought destinations. From Brasstown, the crew was able to see into North Carolina and Tennessee, and could even see Tray Mountain off to the east.

Crumbsnatcher hard at work crushing rocks
Crumbsnatcher, the A.T. Sheltermouse, was along for both work and play, helping crush rock, redefine tread, saw locust logs, and happily accompany the crew on their off days for a little R&R.

Enjoying the view on the days off.

Overall, the crew built 51 rock steps, 12 log steps, and dug over 2,000 feet of trail redefinition during their time in Tray Mountain Wilderness. Thanks go out to the stellar group of six who made up Crew 1 for both weeks in Georgia, and to the three volunteers who met us in the field for individual weeks! Of course, the Konnarock Crew was greatly helped by the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club and thanks go out to all those who assisted the crew on the project!

Week 2 Crew 1!
Week 3 Crew 1!
For more photos of Weeks 2 & 3, Crew 1, visit:

CREW 2: WEEK 3 South of Allen Gap, Tennessee

Hiking in with tools the first day.
From Assistant Crew Leader Sarah Ford:

The third week for Crew Two started with a van trip down towards Greenville, Tennessee to an area of the Trail south of Allen Gap that was in need of some major repairs.

Rest time is the best time!
The crew was a wonderful and diverse group ranging from an 18 year old gentleman to a 5-year Konnarock alum in his 60’s.

Showing off a wooden stake that will support new log steps.
The work at Allen Gap was quite a hike: 2 miles uphill to the work site! The crew worked their way back downhill during the week. Trail work ranged from fixing trail creep and clearing drainage, to putting in a log staircase.

Trail tools, American Gothic style.

Each person seemed to find a favorite tool for the work they were assigned. Brian wouldn’t leave his rogue hoe and Sam could always be found with a pulaski in his hand! During work, jokes and word games could be heard up and down the hill. At camp, Werewolf was the favorite card game which caused smiles all around through the week.

Taking it easy right on the Trail.

Crew Leaders Bobby and Sarah always try to mix the week up with some sort of event. Mid-week the crew went to re-supply water and stopped in the local Food City for pints of ice cream… one brave volunteer, Tom, attempted to finish a half gallon! The awning provided just enough shade for everyone to eat their ice cream before it melted.

Crew 2 tents in camp.
Dish washing--everyone pitches in!
Skip Sheldon, an avid trail maintainer with Carolina Mountain Club, took the whole crew to Ryan's one evening. There is nothing better for tired and hungry trail workers than an all-you-can-eat buffet! There were full stomachs and a thankful bunch at the end of the evening.

This amazing crew managed to achieve over 7,000 feet of trail rehabilitation over five days, and they also cleared a dozen water bars and installed several new drainages! This was much more work than anticipated, which is always a great surprise. Great job crew 2!

Crew 2, proud of their work and ready for an All-You-Can-Eat buffet!

For more photos from Week 3, Crew 2 visit:

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Week 2: May 14-18 2015 Crew 2 at Highcock Knob Relocation

May 14-18, Konnarock's Crew 1 headed down to Georgia for a special two-week project. Look for a report about both weeks in the Week 3 blog post!

Crew 2 also had a special group: 8 students and veterans came all the way from the University of South Dakota to lend a hand as part of an AWOL Alternative Break program.

To see what the AWOL students thought about their experience, we highly recommend reading their blog:

Here's the report from Assistant Crew Leader Sarah Ford:

During the second week of 2015 Konnarock Trail Crew, Bobby and Sarah’s crew worked on a relocation at Highcock Knob located near Natural Bridge, Virginia. 

The new section of trail is roughly an eighth of a mile running through some very rocky sidehill. The digging was extremely difficult, but despite the conditions the crew and club members managed to accomplish 300 feet of new sidehill and 8 rock steps!

We were privileged to work with a group of 8 volunteers that traveled all the way from the University of South Dakota. They were participating in a program called AWOL which is a program that takes individuals out for a week of 40 hours of community service. 

Also, there was a wonderful turnout from Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club every day while Konnarock was there. The club was kind enough to provide a wonderful dinner for everyone at the end of the week. Overall, the week was a success- with no injuries and many friends made.

Thanks USD AWOL group and NBATC!

 For a look at all the photos from Week 2, visit the flickr album: