An Abundance of Goodness

Four basic tools of the trail maintenance and forest fire trade.  From the left: Mcloed, Pulaski, Rogue hoe, pick mattock.  Add a five gallon plastic bucket, a shovel, a pruning saw and you've pretty much got the whole set.

Four basic tools of the trail maintenance and forest fire trade. From the left: Mcloed, Pulaski, Rogue hoe, and a pick mattock in front of a brand new waterbar we used them to build.  Add a rock bar,  five gallon plastic bucket, a shovel, a pruning saw plus an occasional cross cut or chainsaw and you’ve pretty much got all the toys.

Shenandoah National Park, VA, August 15 – 21, 2015 — This was a physically demanding and productive week in the park.  I love to sweat, so thanks to the weatherman, we were virtually swimming in goodness.

The itinerary was chock full of fun. Saturday marked our monthly Hoodlums work day.  We enjoyed an excellent turnout for mid-August vacation season.

I groaned a bit when the short straw put my crew on a weeding expedition down a side trail that hadn’t seen much love this year.  In about five hours, six of us weeded two miles of trail with swing blades because a chunk of it is in a designated wilderness area where motors are not allowed.  We also cleaned 42 check dams and six waterbars, and cleared one blowdown!

I removed this blowdown with my Hoodlums crew using a 20 in. pruning saw.

I removed this blowdown using a 20 in. pruning saw.

Note the rise of the tree trunk on the right side of the photo.  I knew there was stored energy to be released, but not that much.

Removing a blowdown isn’t newsworthy except for this.  Note the rise of the tree trunk on the right side of the photo. I expected a bit of a jump, but not all the way to eye level. It’s a good example of how bucking any down tree can be hazardous.

Immediately after the Hoodlums clock expired I hustled 50 miles toward the southern end of the park to meet up with Lauralee Bliss for a two-day ridgerunner walk, after which I hurried to join the crew I’d be working with for the remainder of the week. I was a day late, so I knew I needed to work extra hard to make it up.

The first project was fixing a mud hole created by a spring further down Overall Run trail than we were able to get during crew week in May.

The spring leaks from multiple locations and undermines the trail tread,

The spring leaks from multiple locations and undermines the trail tread,

We don't call Eric Jenkins the human crane for nothin'!

We don’t call Eric Jenkins the human crane for nothin’!

Our solution was to build a culvert drain and a raised turnpike to the upper/dryer side of the trail.

Our solution was to build a culvert drain and a raised turnpike to the upper/dryer side of the trail. We left the muddy part untouched because the water also rises from underneath.

Finished product.

Finished product. It’s always great to work with the National Park Service crew.

The second day on Overall Run we corrected another mud hole using a slightly different solution.  Rain ended the day early.

The second day on Overall Run we corrected another mud hole using a slightly different solution. Rain ended the day early.

The following day we rehabbed the treadway on the Dickie Ridge trail and built several new waterbars and grade dips to improve drainage.  The weather was worthy of a Finnish sauna.

New waterbar under construction.

New waterbar under construction.

Side-hilling to level the treadway.

Side-hilling to level the treadway and move it up hill enough to keep it from causing erosion in some areas.

Compacting a new grade dip.

Compacting a new grade dip.

It was THAT kind of day!

It was THAT kind of day!

The heat was quickly depleting all of us, so we broke early.  I decided to spend the extra daylight checking on my Appalachian Trail Section and I was glad I did.

I found this blowdown on my trail section.

I found this blowdown on my trail section.

Just after cutting the first branch, another small tree came crashing down.  It scared the scat out of me!

Just after cutting the first branch, another small tree came crashing down. It scared the scat out of me!

Half done.

Half done.

Finished.

Finished.

Found this illegal fire ring at an informal campsite on my section.  Since destroying the last one early this spring, no one had rebuilt it until now.

Found this illegal fire ring at an informal campsite on my section. Since destroying the last one early this spring, no one had rebuilt it until now.

Launched the rocks as far away as I could.

Launched the rocks as far away as I could. Maybe planting poison ivy or raspberries in this space might help solve the problem, ya think?

The weather broke on the final day. The temp dropped 20 degrees and the humidity halved.  Yea!  We worked near the Elk Wallow wayside building a couple of new grade dips and waterbars.  We also repaired a huge waterbar where rain cascades down the trail like a river.

Waterbar, one each.

Waterbar, one each.

Your August 2015 trail crew:  Cindy Ardecki, me, Brian Snyder, Noel Freeman, and David Sylvester.

Your August 2015 trail crew: Cindy Ardecki, me, Brian Snyder, Noel Freeman, and David Sylvester.

Blowdown Boulevard.

Blowdown Boulevard.

17 thoughts on “An Abundance of Goodness

  1. Wow….all I can say is – Thank you and the hard working crew for doing all that !!! Seeing that just makes me wish I lived closer. I would love to get involved with a crew!!!

  2. Those are serious tools, especially the two hoes. Clawing and raking then tamping down all in one. Good designs.

    You sure got your share of sweating during those days. How many times did you have to wring out your headband? Good selfie there.

    We have a friend who is a forester. He contracts to walk forests and assess them for thinning, harvest, disease, etc. He is quite aware of the widow-makers that can fall and kill a person. No one would know he was gone in the remote areas he walks. He carries a cell phone mainly for photos as cell service is often zero. Currently he is in NE Washington state waiting to see if fires are going to consume his cabin. He and the valley were told to evacuate a couple of days ago.

    Good job on the AT and presenting the work done by the crews. Interesting and appreciated.

  3. THank you for all your expertise and hard work. We never seem to notice your work when it’s done; we would just notice if it needed done! But thanks to this blog I am noticing more waterbars etc. on the trail as I hike; you all generously give of your time and talents and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

  4. Be good idea to have a locator on you when you are out and about in a remote area. Are you sure it wasn’t a log stealing bear that pushed the tree over on purpose??

  5. Those trails look so inviting, so nice and smooth, not a rock or root in sight. No need for clunky boots there. Amazing to see how many trees are falling on trails all the time, looks like your work never ends.

    That’s it, we are going back to Shenandoah this fall and I’ll take advantage of the smooth trails and all the good work you people are doing. Shenandoah is easier and more relaxing, less dangerous than the White Mountains, NH where I initially wanted to return. And the drive is two hours shorter.

    • Shenandoah and the Whites are topographically very different. For one, the glaciers never reached SNP, so the terrain is easier to maintain. We’ve got our share of rocks nonetheless. Enjoy your visit.

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