Session 8’s hike-in was a deceptive one—only four miles, but every step of it uphill! Still, the crew made it up in time for everyone to set up camp and begin some trailwork. Tim and Bryan picked up where they left off on their previous 2015 SWEAT crews by swingblading, while Chuck (the ‘new guy’) showed off his professional landscaping skills with the loppers. After supper the crew went to meet our neighbors at Cosby Knob Shelter—a couple making their way to Hot Springs—who seemed enthusiastic about joining SWEAT next year.
Judging by the forecast, the rain appeared all but imminent. Donned in rain suits we set out to accomplish as much as possible before the bottom dropped out…but it never did! Session 7 volunteer, Britt, joined us around noon and went straight to cleaning waterbars. Bryan quit early after taking a headache but was back on his feet by chow time. Again we went to go visit the shelter neighbors, only to find one backpacker who was already asleep.
The team got to see the work in store on the 4+ mile hike to Inadu Knob: brushing…brushing…and more brushing. Leapfrogging was the game as the volunteers paired off on lopping and swingblading duties. The sound of thunder never far away, the crew worked double-time and with fingers crossed. By day’s end they’d accomplished 2 miles of trail work and dodged another downpour.
After a breakfast of peanut butter and honey burritos, the crew went on a brushing rampage. We met a handful of friendly hikers who thanked us for our work and offered us snacks. Bring on the trail magic! After our nightly shelter visit, we talked under the tarp until ‘hiker-thirty’ called everyone to their tents.
Last workday for SWEAT 2015! It was a bittersweet day for the crew: on one hand it was hard to believe the week had gone by so fast; on the other, we wanted to see the job through. Following the crew’s last swipe of the swingblade, final cut with the loppers, they decided there was enough time to head back to basecamp early, where Meg was waiting with burgers and a birthday cake to celebrate Morgan’s 30th. What a way to end a great season!