Workin' it from Doe Knob to Rocky Top
Volunteers: Lea, Randy, Bryce, Patrick, JRh, Katie
Crew Name " S.W.E.A.T. Episode 1: A new Bear"
Day 1 Sunday July 6: We started the day with a wonderful sausage, potato and egg casserole for breakfast at Soak Ash, made by our camp coordinator Chloe. Eager to get on the trail, we headed to Cades Cove and ascended 4,000 ft in elevation on the Russell Field Trail and hiked a total of 7.5 miles to Russell Field shelter. We dropped our packs and ate a hot meal together followed by stories and jokes.
Day 2 we awoke up to the sun peaking through the trees, ate a filling breakfast of oatmeal, grits as well as mocha (hot chocolate packets and instant coffee, a necessity on the trail). After a great stretch circle as well as a "tool time" explanation of each tool and the correct way to use them the crew was off to Rocky Top (the farthest point of our section) and worked our way back to Spence Field Shelter. After taking in the views on Rocky Top we proceeded to address burs and overgrowth by swingblading two feet back on each side of the trail. Water bars were also in need of some TLC and we cleaned them out with pulaskis, fire rakes, and pick mattocks.
Tuesday, July 8, JR showed us evidence of a bear that had chewed on his trekking poles. We jumped up to intensely inspect our campsite and found other evidence of bear activity. After discussing the issue with the Park wildlife biologists, we decided to spend the day relocating south to Mollies Ridge Shelter. On our way, we cleared 1 mile of trail with slingblades. Once we arrived at our new home we saw two bears (we named them Yogi and Booboo) climbing up trees next to the shelter to eat berries. We respected the wildlife by watching them at a distance and had ourselves some good ol' "Bear TV."
Day 4 Wed, July 9: The trail calls for work. We hiked north of mollies ridge shelter back to Russell field shelter and cleaned out waterbars, built new rock water bars (with MASSIVE rocks!), installed check steps as well as swingblading. Today, we saw a family of hogs, a red wolf (we think) lots of red cheeked salamanders (a rare breed of amphibian that is only found in the Smokies!), and Allegra pointed out a flower called Indians Pipe which has no chlorophyll, thus making it completely white. While hiking back home, we heard the jolly rambling of a man we call "the immortal" Randy Pucket. Back at the shelter, the crew took part in their very own "Star Wars" rendition and called it "S.W.E.A.T Wars Episode 1: A New Bear" The story was written in a shelter log for all to enjoy and explained our daily life in an epic manor.
Day five we addressed "THE MUCK." Eager to work with our special guest, we headed north past Russell Shelter to address some major erosion and mucky areas. We talked about how certain parts of the A.T. in the park are shared with horseback riders in the Smoky Mountains, which makes it difficult in preventing erosion for an extended period of time. We addressed a very mucky and eroded area and shoveled as well as raked out the 'organic matter' layer and mud until we found the desired mineral soil underneath. After a much needed mud fight, we raised the problem areas with buckets upon buckets of mineral soil and dug drainage ditches where needed.
Overall, JR rates it a success with his two thumbs up!
Water bars cleaned: 65
New Rock Waterbars: 6
Miles of Swing blading and lopping: 5 1/2 mi.
Log check steps: 3