Somewhere on Loudon Heights, WV, July 16, 2016 — There’s a somewhat secret two-year-long project to relocate the Appalachian Trail on Loudon Heights as it descends to Harpers Ferry. By the end of the year, the job will be done.
The pitch of the existing trail reminds people of a church steeple. Such a challenging slope does not facilitate erosion control. Worse, it passes through preserved civil war battlefield entrenchments, which as par for the course, unthinking/uncaring hikers damage by removing rocks to make fire rings. Neither practice, rock displacement nor fires, is appropriate on such hallowed ground.
The AT is constantly being relocated. Someone once told me that less than 5 percent of the trail is original. Not sure that’s accurate, but in this case, a “relo” makes common sense.
So, you need hard work done fast, “Who ya gonna call?” The Hoodlums, of course. In reality, we were building on the good work of crews that came before us and set the stage for those to follow. Nevertheless, the Hoodlums were delighted to answer the call and do our small part on a brutally hot and humid summer day.
The new treadway gently hugs the mountain’s contour lines. If it had a label, it would scream in bold print, “New gentle lower calorie formulation!”
I overheard someone say that his dad said the same thing mine did, “If you don’t go to college, you’ll end up digging ditches.” So much for education. If I was paid for this, I join a union; but as a hobby, it’s fun and the camaraderie is fantastic.
Trail work is like pulling teeth Big old rock molars. Emily knows the physics of leverage.
Then there’s the detailed work of removing roots and smaller stones. Later another crew will smooth out and level this rough cut. Our job this outing was to break ground.
Head Hoodlum Janice and Hoodlum Julie got dirty and had fun.
Like distressed jeans, some new trail comes complete with pre-blowdowns. We just worked around and under them. Trailboss attacked them with gusto!
At the end of the day, we retired to Blackburn Trail Center where Mrs. Trailboss, who just happens to be the chair of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy board, rewarded us with a scrumptious dinner! It doesn’t get better than that. Sisu GA/Me ’14