Smart Start to a Relocation Project

Sessions 7 and 8 tackle a relocation project of the trail that has been planned for 10 years. The relocation moves the trail from a steep fall-line trail to a more sustainable grade that should make the hiking more enjoyable. The crew worked on one of two relocations between Buckeye Gap and Silers Bald.

The crews quickly got dubbed by their common and relatable qualities, the Foodie Crew for Session 7 and The Guys Crew for Session 8.

It all started on Sunday, August 3rd when Session 7 of SWEAT hiked seven miles to their spike camp.
From there, our crew comprised of Amanda, Shane, Tracy, Anthony, and Austin would clear the flag line and dig trail. It’s a big undertaking, but they were up for the challenge.

With enthusiasm and dedication, Session 7 aka “The Foodie Crew” answered the call of building the reroute (perhaps comforted by their seemingly endless nightly discussions on all kinds of favorite recipes and plates). We began our work as a crew by first walking the length of the flag line. After a talk by the leaders on proper tool usage and safety, the crew began step one of the sidehill process: Clearing. We cleared the flag line with the use of pulaskis, swing blades, and hand saws removing blowdowns, organic material, and black berry patches from the future trail.

On day three we continued the process by removing large stumps from the ground and potential tripping hazards in large roots. By day four we were preparing to dig. The leaders again gave a demonstration on how to properly dig sidehill and explained the proper angles and lengths involved in digging new tread. Before the completion of our final work day one day later, the Foodie crew had dug over 500 feet of beautiful and slightly outsloped new tread.

By the time Tuesday, August 12 rolled around it was time for Session 8 to pick up where the Foodies had left off. Kirk, Anthony, Sam, Dave, and Danny came to be known simply as the Guys Crew. And these guys accomplished a heck of a lot of work. 

The days were simple yet exhausting. For four days, we swung picks at the ground, removed rocks and roots from the trail, and sculpted a new back slope and bench for future use by endless amounts of hikers visiting the Smokies and the A.T. for years to come. In three days, we accomplished digging just over 1,000 feet of new tread. For anyone who’s spent swinging a pulaski, that’s an impressive feat indeed. Before our time was up, the Guys spent a considerable amount of time fine-tuning the trail we dug and rehashing by spreading leaves over the new trail for erosion prevention.

Digging new tread is never an easy task but the volunteers for Session 7 & 8 were a force to be reckoned with. Their hard work and sweat was responsible for over 1,500 feet of new tread, which will be finished this September by another ATC Trail Crew and hopefully opened later this year. The Foodie and Guys crew certainly deserve much of the credit for breaking the ground on making this happen. Great work ya'll.