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:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Week 1: Supercrew in Mount Rogers May 6-10, 2015

For the first week of the Konnarock Trail Crew 2015 season, both crews worked together in the legendary Mount Rogers High Country of Southwest Virginia.

Crew 1 Report 
Moving a large rock with the help of rollers.
by Assistant Crew Leader Davis Wax


A total of eight volunteers were split between two crews but together made up a Konnarock Supercrew. There was a great mix of experience levels, with four Konnarock alumni and four first-timers--some of whom would take their first steps on the A.T. this week.

Camping at The Scales.
The first day the crew set up camp at Scales in the Mt. Rogers High Country, an open field where an encircling fence kept long-horned cattle and wild ponies at bay. Blue Ridge views of North Carolina rolled into the distance, giving the crew beautiful vistas to wake up to each morning.

How do you get gravel to the Trail? You CRUSH IT!
Crew 1 began work on its priority project about 2 miles north of camp where the trail was experiencing intense erosion from a nearby stream running parallel with the footpath. The crew built a series of junk rock cribbing as a barrier against the flowing water and filled the treadway with crush in order to raise it up above the level of future flooding and minimize the buildup of muddy spots.

Former Mount Rogers Ridgerunner Jonathan Lemberg lends a hand.
Jonathan Lemberg, a Mt. Rogers ridgerunner for a number of years, came out on day 2 to volunteer his time helping to deberm parts of the trail. Crew 1 moved on to serious water control projects, including de-berming the trail, installing drains and dips, and repairing previously-placed rock water bars.

Before: a 2-foot-high step
For the last 3 days of the week, Dave Underwood came out and worked with both crews on water control and installing rock steps. Dave is the 2015 Crew Leader for ATC's S.W.E.A.T. Crew: the Smokies Wilderness Elite A.T. Crew. He was a great addition to the crew, blending right in with the volunteers, pulling more than his weight, and being a quick learner when it came to trail maintenance and rehab.

Every day, countless day and thru hikers of the A.T. passed by the crew, many of them thanking the volunteers for their work on the trail and expressing interest about what Konnarock was all about.

Throughout the week, various Mt. Rogers Appalachian Trail Club members came to watch the Supercrew's camp at the much-visited Scales while they were away at work and were so kind as to refill Konnarock's drinking water supply each day. 

After: isn't that more inviting?
Hanging out in camp after a good day's work.
The crew spent their downtime watching wild ponies chase each other through the high country scrub, pondering the mass of long horned cattle next to adorable meek calves, playing the card game Werewolf around campfires, and pelting each other with a hacky sack.

Mountain mosses
Even with a relatively small crew, week 1 was a roaring success for the Supercrew. Almost 40 rock steps were completed alongside a healthy footage of water-draining rehab.

Crew 1 will be back week 6 to pick up where the supercrew left off and looks forward to working in the high country again this season.

Crew 2 Report 
by Assistant Crew Leader Sarah Ford

Moving a big rock safely takes teamwork, communication--and muscle!
During the first week in Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, good weather helped push our volunteers to deliver great work.  
Despite the small crew of four volunteers, the crew put in 28 new rock steps! 

6 of the 28 new steps built by Crew 2.
We did have a few visitors during the week that also lent a hand. Aubrey Arrington, the trail maintainer of the section we worked on, gave his best putting in his first rock steps. Also, David the S.W.E.A.T. Crew Leader and Jay Prevatt, Damascus A.T. Community DOI/VISTA worked a day with the crew. 

Another staircase that replaced an eroded gully.
After moving large rocks all day, the crew hiked back to camp and indulged in fresh cooked meals and games of werewolf or pelt along with Crew 1. There were spectacular views on the hike up and out each day that made the day that much better. Overall, the results from the crew could not have been better. It was a great week with
 alumni and new volunteers alike!

Monday, May 4, 2015

It's that time of YEAR!

It's that time of year again! When sugar groove base camp is full of faces and the sounds of spring are bouncing around. Here at Appalachian Trail Conservancy, we are excited for Konnarock Trail Crew time to roll around. We have sessions already filling up and still have availability for the curious minds that are interested in diving into the world of trail work.

Konnarock is the first trail crew that ATC started (30th anniversary was in 2012) and it continues its legacy every year by enlisting new and veteran volunteers to the trail world to do projects throughout the southeast on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. In 2014, which was a landmark year for Konnarock, our 2014 crew leaders stirred the ship into great success and we couldn't be more thankful! There were 128 volunteers and 7,941 volunteer work hours that made 2014 a very successful year.

During the 2014 season projects were completed but some large 5 year plus projects were completed! The Rocky Fork Relocation project that was started in 2010 was officially completed and another large project, the New River Relocation was completed. This project has been the longest on Konnarocks books taking 8 years to complete because of taking the trail off of private property all the way from the New River in Pearisburg, VA to Rice Field Shelter on the crest of Peters Mountain. This 6.5 mile relocation is a celebration and demonstrates the reason that Konnarock Trail Crew is important to the southeast region.

Are you interested in volunteering for Konnarock Trail Crew 2015 Season? There are 12 planned weeks of trail crew work and most are still open with weeks 9,11 & 12 still needing more volunteers to apply.

Konnarock is entry level into the world of trail work and we teach you everything you need to know. Don't let not having gear or food supply be the reason you don't submit an application, that's all on US! Please sign up and join the 2015 season of Konnarock and become a veteran to the Konnarock legacy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Weeks 9, 10, 11, & 12, Konnarock 2014

Week 9 : July 16 - 20, 2014

Crew 1: Thunder Hill Relocation

Crew 1 worked with the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club on the Thunder Hill Relocation in Central Virginia.

Those flags will soon be the Appalachian Trail! 
In progress 

Crew 1 bringing down the hammer 

Celebrating a job well done 

Crew 2: Bluff City Relocation

Crew 2 worked with Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club on the Bluff City Relocation near Pearisburg, VA.

The bluff city relocation project involves technical rock work.  Crew 2 did an amazing job kicking off two weeks on this project and keeping everyone safe!

Week 10 : July 24 - July 28, 2014

Crew 1: Rocky Fork Relocation

Crew 1 worked with the Carolina Mountain Club on the Rocky Fork Relocation in TN.

Beautiful spot for a camp site 

Sunset at camp 

Crew 1 group picture

Beautiful new trail. Great work, Crew 1!

Crew 2: Little Rock Knob Relocation

Crew 2 worked with Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club on the Little Rock Knob Relocation in TN.
Timber! Volunteers removing a tree from the trail

Crumbsnatcher doing her part

Painting new white blazes makes it official!

Week 11: August 1 - August 5, 2014

Crew 1: Rocky Fork Relocation, TN

Crew 1 continued worked on the Rocky Fork relocation south of Erwin, TN

Crew 2 group photo

A view like this makes all the hard work worth it

Crew 2: Bluff City Relocation

Crew 2 continued the rock work on the Bluff City relocation near Pearisburg, VA

Crew 2 for week 11 picking up where crew 2 from week 9 left off

Who doesn't love power tools?

Crew 2 group picture at the RATC Corn Boil in Catawba! Thanks RATC!

Week 12 : August 9 - August 13, 2014 

Crew 1: Rocky Fork Relocation

Crew 1 spent the final week of the season on the Rocky Fork Relocation south of Erwin, TN

Breaking new trail at Rocky Fork

Playing camp games to pass the time 

Filthy but happy

Crew 2: New River Relocation

Crew 2 finished up a great season with a week working on the New River Relocation near Pearisburg, VA. This Relocation is now open to hikers, but a section remains to be built across a rocky area at the very top of Peters Mountain.

Clearing the trail
Adding some steps

Steps finished 
There was a lot of rain this week, so sunshine on Rice Field was something to celebrate!