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!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Fight Springer Fever: Register Now for Konnarock 2014!

Registration is open for Konnarock Crew 2014!

This is the time of year when many hikers suffer from "Springer Fever", a seasonal condition which causes otherwise sensible people to feel helplessly drawn to the summit of Springer Mountain in Georgia at the beginning of northbound A.T. thru-hiker season. Common symptoms include restlessness, daydreaming, and shopping for new hiking gear. Do you or someone you know suffer from Springer Fever?      

Here at ATC's Central and Southwest Virginia Regional Office, we understand what you're going through, and we want to help. We'd like to share a little-known cure for Springer Fever that doesn't require quitting your job or walking for six months: sign up for a week on the Konnarock Crew this summer!

That's right, registration is open and some weeks are starting to fill up! We've got important projects planned in beautiful places for 2014, all the way from Grassy Gap, Georgia to Thunder Hill, Virginia. Sign up for a week today and you can spend the next few months looking forward to a volunteer adventure on the A.T.!

 Click here to take a look at the schedule and reserve your spot on the legendary Konnarock Volunteer Trail Crew.

Konnarock is the A.T.'s largest and most storied Volunteer Trail Crew, tackling vital rehab and construction projects to preserve and maintain the southern Appalachian Trail. Whether you're looking for a unique outdoor adventure, a chance to learn new skills and meet great people, or a rewarding way to give back to the Appalachian Trail, we think you'll have a great time volunteering with the Konnarock Crew. 

Do it for the Trail, do it for yourself, do it for your friends and loved ones who don't want to see you suffer from Springer Fever!
Part of Konnarock's arsenal of trail tools last August.
And now, some photos from the end of the 2013 season! A distinguished group of alumni volunteers stuck around at the end of Week 12 to help clean and sharpen the tools, repair tents and pack everything away for the winter. This included sanding, re-painting and conditioning all the wooden tool handles. These tools have been hibernating in the tool shed at Konnarock Base Camp all winter--won't you help us bring them out to the A.T. for some fresh air and sunshine in 2014?
Crumbsnatcher with the Crumbsnatcher piñata.
The Crew also celebrated the end of the season with a party featuring live music courtesy of Frank Hurricane of "Hurricanes of Love" . The party featured a piñata in homage to Konnarock's first full-season rodent volunteer, Crumbsnatcher the A.T. Shelter Mouse. 

Like the real Crumbsnatcher, this piñata was almost too strong!
Loyal readers of this blog may be wondering, what has Crumbsnatcher been up to this winter, and what is she doing now? To find out, look for Crumbsnatcher AT Sheltermouse on facebook! After an awesome season working with the Rocky Top Crew in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Crumbsnatcher came back to the ATC Virginia Regional Office, where she was a big help at outreach events and wrote a column for the bimonthly email newsletter (sign up here). 

Not as strong as Konnarock volunteers though...
But Crumbsnatcher was born on the Trail, and can't stay cooped up in an office for too long! Last week she hopped on a flight to ATC's Asheville, NC office to meet up with Konnarock Crew Leader Bobby Berry. Bobby and Crumbsnatcher are headed to Springer Mountain for a big hike before the Konnarock season starts. Rumor has it they might also lend a hand with the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) and the DRAFT Crew!
Up here in Virginia, snow from Winter Storm Titan is piling up, so we'll end this post with one of our favorite sunny photos from Konnarock 2013. Send a bit of sunshine our way--sign up for Konnarock today!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Week 12: August 1-5, 2013

Bluff City Supercrew!!

The crew hard at work on the bluff.
For the last week of the 2013 season, the Konnarock Crew went BIG: Big Project, Big Crew, and Big Fun!

First, the Big Project: the Bluff City Relocation near Pearisburg, VA is one of the most technical projects Konnarock has tackled in recent memory. In order to get the trail off of the road, it has to wrap around a rocky bluff on a steep slope.

It's a long way down to the houses below, so the crew working on the bluff wore climbing harnesses and clipped themselves and their tools onto a safety rope.

Handling the gas-powered rock drill is a two-person job!
Using a rock drill, sledgehammers, and every rock tool in the Konnarock arsenal, they removed enough rock to create a three-foot-wide tread along the bluff. All the pieces of rock that were removed had to be carefully carried away from the bluff using a griphoist highline system, lest they roll down the hill and damage the houses below.

Assistant Crew Leader Zack Finney (in white hardhat) is standing on the future A.T.
The rock protrudes from the bluff in vertical fins, so there are gaps between each place where the crew was able to carve out a trail. To bridge the gap, the crew constructed a mighty stone crib wall.

Crew Leader Bobby Berry, who led operations on the bluff, was really pleased with how well the work went!

Masters of rockwork with an impressive crib wall on the bluff. 
Next, the Big Crew: this week Crew 1 and Crew 2 joined forces to become one incredible SUPERCREW! Because of the technical nature of this work, ATC put a call out for the most experienced and skilled Konnarock alumni to help out on this special project. Those who could answered the call, and formed a big crew with even bigger talent! They were joined by several members of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club and two Forest Service employees, including Dispersed Recreation Technician Jonathan Wheeler.

High-fives for a solid crib wall!
Back to the Big Project: there isn't enough room on the bluff for the entire Supercrew to work safely, so the rest of the crew focused on building trail from the Angels Rest trailhead back towards the bluff. This part of the project was optimistically called the "Sidehill Crew".

At the beginning of the week there was some sidehill trail to be dug, but the closer the crew got to the bluff the more bedrock began to get in the way. The "Sidehill Crew" wound up doing as much rock work as the Bluff Crew, albeit without the ropes, cables, and super-steep terrain.

A 14-foot-long crib wall built by the "Sidehill Crew".
This crew also found they needed to build several crib walls to support the trail in between hunks of bedrock.

There is an art to building a durable, stable (dare we say beautiful?) rock crib wall. It takes critical thinking, teamwork, and above all patience to figure out how to make a bunch of lumpy, weirdly-shaped rocks fit together like bricks. Fortunately, the Supercrew was up to the task!

Rifting a rock so it will fit into the foundation of a crib wall.

The typical A.T. thru-hiker hustling into Pearisburg might be too busy thinking about what to get at Dairy Queen to notice these crib walls. But those who take the time to look will see the masterful work of Konnarock's best and brightest!

Now on to the Big Fun! When the rock-busting and wall-building was over, the crew had a great time back at camp around the campfire...but the highlight of the week for everyone was the Corn Boil.

Konnarock Crew members digging in at the Corn Boil!
This relocation is on the section of the AT maintained by the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC), and the club showed their appreciation by inviting the crew to their biggest social event of the year, the Corn Boil. More than just corn, this festive potluck featured a smorgasbord of home-cooked delicacies and a great chance to meet the club members who care for the trail year-round! 

The Big Fun wasn't over when the crew headed back to Base Camp, but you'll have to stay tuned for the next blog post to hear about the End-Of-Season Party and the heroes who stuck around to help clean up Base Camp. Suffice it to say, a Supercrew week at Bluff City was a festive and productive way to wrap up a great season of hard work and good times on the Konnarock Crew. 

A fantastic spread at the Corn Boil.
Thank you to everyone--the volunteers, staff, club members, and agency partners who helped make the 2013 Konnarock Crew season such a success!

Relaxing at camp after a good day's work.

The bluff worksite, ready for next year's crew.

When you need to move a lot of rocks, it's smart to work in a team!

It goes without saying that Crumbsnatcher was a critical member of this talented crew.
The folks who worked on the "Sidehill Crew" the last day, with some of the cribbing they built.

The entire Supercrew, in great spirits after the Corn Boil!