Session Four: High Spirits and Working Hard

Rocky Top to Derrick Knob Shelter

Crew Leader:  Amy Allamong
Assistant Crew Leader: Ben Royer

Session Overview:  This week we had a small crew, but we are back on track with our sections.  The section between Beechnut Gap and Rocky Top is badly eroded in some areas. We cleared the existing drains, but this section could definitely use more rock work such as steps. Some 30-50 foot runs are on a 20+ grade and eroded down to bedrock. The bedrock here is soft and easily eroded. North of Beechnut gap also has some very steep (almost vertical climbs). 

Specifications:  Again, this week we cut back the blackberry bushes and other perennial growth. We continued to focus on sapling removal from the corridor. This week we stuck closer to the 4ft defined corridor rather than trying to cut extra for sustainability in the coming years. We were able to move a little quicker. As we hiked through, we worked on the drains that could be cleaned easily and efficiently. We did install one new rock water bar and one new log. The crew practiced solid safety principles while working and hiking to the worksite. 

Day 1: We hiked in from Cades Cove via Anthony Creek Trail and Bote. This may be one of my favorite hikes in so far, it was beautiful! The crew did great and we made it in fine. 

Day 2: We hiked north of Beechnut Bap and met up with our end point from last session on Brier Knob. We cleared about 1.1 mile; it was mostly brushing with the occasional drain. This is the section that has the almost vertical section of trail you have to climb up.

Day 3: We kept working south and made it another 0.9 miles. The thickest section was just north of Beechnut Gap. We also removed a failing log water bar and installed a new rock one as seen in the pictures below.


Before a rock waterbar installation (above), and after rock water bar installation and drain enhancement (right). 

Day 4: We worked another 0.6 miles south of Beechnut towards Thunderhead. This section is badly eroded so we focused on drains. We tried to clear all of them and make them large. We made it to Thunderhead where it was thick with Rhododendron and Blueberry. We spent some time clearing through here. 


The Trail before (left) and after (right).

Day 5: We continued on to Rock Top. We cleared about 1 mile.

Day 6: Hike out and breakdown at Soak Ash.

Week Summary: We had a great week of weather! It kept everyone in high spirits and we were able to work hard. Looking forward to next week! We will continue working south from where we left off. We will be camping at Spence Field Shelter.