Shenandoah National Park, May 23 – 27, Spring Trail Crew Week — Three-year-olds love to splash in water and play in the mud. That’s what we did all week.
The upper part of the trail to White Oak Canyon is full of springs. The trail is always muddy. It follows that hikers don’t like to get mud on their shoes. Therefore, when they encounter mud, they hike around it. The trail grows wider and the environmental impact spreads.
Last year the park service trail crew tried to improve the drainage, but winter frost heaving did a job on their work. This year, with our help, it was time to dig it all up and start over. So we ripped up 224 feet of rock wall and built it back using a different technique.
It was muddy – and we loved it!
The structure we built is called a lateral drain. In this case the water seeps in from multiple sources all along the length of the trail, so the ditch catches and directs it to a place where we can get it out of the way.
The ditch is dug and the rock gets lapped-stacked for stability. The rock on this section came from a commercial source. Call it an invasive rock species. There wasn’t enough natural rock to do the job.
So much for the pick and shovel work.
We live at the newly renovated Pinnacles Research building which is an old CCC facility. I was there earlier this month for the Leave No Trace master educator course.
When we’re done working, we load up the government van the park service provides and head back to Pinnacles.
The first one dives in the shower while everyone else grabs a beer.
When we’re clean, we head to town for dinner when we don’t BBQ. Millennials aren’t the only people with their heads up their phones. Our excuse is that we’re off the grid in the park, so we read email and catch up on the news when we can. At least that’s our story – an we’re sticking to it. With no TV or WIFI, once we’re back, it’s early to bed.
Sometimes we work with logs. They’re faster, but don’t last nearly as long as stone – maybe 15 years with luck.
Debarking logs improves their life in the ground by removing the medium by which bugs and other rotting agents grow.
A young woman was hiking down the trail only to look up and be greeted by this guy (serial killer-looking maniac). Imagine the look of panic on her face! I was rolling in the mud laughing. BTW, he’s a retired State Department Russian expert!
Once debarked, into the ground they go. These are long-lasting locust logs BTW. (For all my friends, including Karma, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail this year – the water might be welcome about now.
We always love working with the park service trail crews. In this case, some may remember Eric “the human crane” from last year.
Our partnership with the park service, working side-by-side, is close and mutually beneficial.
We finished up Thursday morning. With time on our hands, we wondered over to the Elk Wallow trail (between Elk Wallow and Mathew’s Arm campground) to remove several blowdowns blocking the trail. One took an entire hour to slice up.
Calling home from Skyland where we ate dinner last night.
Didn’t know I was doing an Oreo commercial – honestly!
The MacLoed. The Swiss Army knife of trail tools.