Guest Post: Patrick Slaughter

Smoky Wilderness Elite Appalachian Trail Crew (S.W.E.A.T) a Trail Maintenance group based in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park that work on the Appalachian Trail (A.T) in the Smoky Mountains area.   

Session 4 S.W.E.A.T Crew

Crew Leader David & Assistant Crew Leader Morgan 
with Super Safe in the back ground.
This year's crew, lead by crew leader David and assistant crew leader Morgan help conquered the tedious trail by solving the problems at hand. The crew is tasked with handling multiple blow-downs, solving water drainage issues with grade dips and keeping the trail in great condition for people walking on the trail, as well as the trail itself  by de-berming. 

For this session this duo along with volunteers had to hike 10 miles to get to their work-site (Mount Chapman to Camelback) overcoming obstacles like: a short trip down the wrong trail, monsters mountain slopes, rain from the heavens, and fog that made you feel like you were one with the clouds. Most of the time a normal day will include: breakfast , heading out to work a break, work,lunch, more work, dinner and some type of fun activity for the end of the day.  You would be surprised at what types of meals that camp coordinator Megan pre-packages for us to cook in the woods. For example, a meal like thanksgiving might feel unheard of, but it's perfectly made with mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, and turkey packages seasoned to perfection. We cook it all on a gas stove, and we had apple, peach and other types of turnovers for dessert.

With meal like that no wonder so many people who love hiking the Appalachian Trail (A.T) would want to have a backpacking experience they way they work it on crew! It's almost enough to make anyone volunteer to do trail maintenance crews like S.W.E.A.T. 
S.W.E.A.T Crew volunteers enjoying their Thanksgiving one serving at a time

S.W.E.A.T Crew is a team that has about 5-8 volunteers and 2 crew leaders in which the crew help solve many problems that hit the trail. Problems dealing with water drainage issues, annual plants wanting to grow in the trail, and removing fallen trees.  Each situation is addressed by applying the tools we take into the field, like using lopping shears to clear away tree limbs, or cleaning out drainage systems using a fire rake and pulaskis. Moreover, many people who find out about this opportunity to volunteer S.W.E.A.T Crew gain life changing events. 
Morgan, Jacob and V (From Brazil) playing Hack sack 
For our Brazilian volunteer Vinicious, he honed his English skills. He and others  instance, gained a deeper understanding about how to live in the back-country. Others achieve a outstanding appreciation for the trail, but perhaps most importantly, people tend to find life long connections with people due to some of the fun events that the crew do together. 

Bonds like these tend to never break; connecting all the people who hike the A.T and all of it was done by doing trail maintenance.

Super Safe using the swing blade

For more information about the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, S.W.E.A.T Crew and other volunteer organization like it on the Appalachian Trail visit the following websites from below.

Elizabeth (Coach) Lopping the points of the tree.

For more pictures of this S.W.E.A.T Crew session visit the flicker account below as well.

Blogger: Patrick Slaughter (Trail Crew Name: Rouge)

 Title: Trail Skills Intern
 @ Appalachian Trail Conservancy
 Based out of Asheville, NC
Occupation: Student 
@ North Carolina A&T State Universtity 
in Greensboro, NC
Studying: Landscape Architecture