Session 3: Hogs, Logs, n' Slogs

Session 3 Volunteers: Vinicius, Andy, & Tom
Day 1
Session 3 was a smaller group than usual, but what we lacked in numbers we more than made up for in laughs and gusto.  We added Tom (aka ‘Tomcat’) this week, a Middle School Ag. Teacher from Savannah, Georgia, who made it up the mountain in record speed.  Returning crew members Andy and Vinicius added sing-a-longs to our arduous climb from Cades Cove, ensuring we’d encounter no bears on our way.

Vin Takes in the View

This Brush Needed Some Serious Taming.
 Day 2
We knew we were in for a challenging week after waking to Vinicius yelling at the local wild pig population at Beechnut Gap.  He mentioned catching one for a barbeque—‘Brazilian Style’—but Crew Leader David advised it would be breaching ATC’s Leave No Trace backcountry ethics, and that we better stick with Meg’s prepared dinners.  After brushing through the morning, we met a couple of hikers who showed us photos of the resident rattlesnake on Rocky Top.  The crew decided a photo was as close to an encounter as we were comfortable with.
Raising the Fire Rake Following the Battle of the Brush

AT Gothic?
Day 3
Caffeine was the word this week.  It made the morning rainfall much more tolerable.  After a thorough Job Hazards Analysis (JHA) from David, describing the dangers of working with wet tools, we set out to clean waterbars and tackle more brushing.  By day’s end, Tomcat understood the meaning of ‘Hiker Hunger.’

Working Through the Mud. 
A Drain that Drains!
Day 4
We rustled ourselves out of camp early in hopes of beating the rain, hiked to Rocky Top and brushed our way back to Beechnut Gap.  The work is difficult—lopping, swingblading, lopping some more—but with the help of precooked bacon, the team found themselves up to the challenge. 

David and Tom Embrace the Muck.
Day 5
Rain rain rain!  The team stuck close together out of necessity, working through the torrential downpour to see two waterbars completed.  There seemed no end to the mud and water, when, sometime after lunch, the sky opened up and the team was able to finish strong, digging drainage dips and raking muck.    

Day 6

It was all downhill on our hike back out to Cades Cove.  An end to another successful week of SWEAT Crew was complete back at our Soak Ash basecamp where camp coordinator Meg stuffed us full of delicious food.  Nothing like a week in the backcountry to build up an appetite!
SWEAT Crew Session 3