Week 2: The P.E.L.T. Crew in Action

SWEAT Crew Session 2
Day 1:  It was an arduous hike up Anthony Creek Trail from Cades Cove to an abandoned horse camp site near Russell Field shelter.  3500 feet in just five miles…talk about SWEAT Crew!  After one water resupply and a handful of breaks, we made it.  A few minutes piling dead fall and underbrush helped to make the camp accommodating and the tarp up and the stove out means HOME.  Meg had a special meal prepared, Petros, a Knoxville original, remnant from the Knoxville World’s Fair from 1984.  Petros comes complete with real sour cream, so we thoroughly stuffed ourselves in anticipation for the ambitious work week.

Up On Rocky Top
Day 2:  We began our first workday by picking up tools located at two different shelters on our way to Rocky Top.  By the time we reached the summit, everyone was ready to break and enjoy the magnificent panorama.  Meanwhile, Andy took the opportunity to visit Thunderhead - what can we say, the girl's got some energy! From there we worked on clearing brush from the northern portion of our work section.

View Hiking Up to Rocky Top
Vinicius & Tim Clear Back Brush
Day 3: The team broke into two smaller crews in order to divide and conquer the most difficult work areas.  The Hazel Creek Gang, comprised of Dave, Jeff and Crew Leader, David, headed south to cut back some serious mountain laurel, while the Spence SOBO’s (Andy, Tim, Vinicius and Morgan) worked on cleaning/constructing waterbars and more brushing.  By the end of the day, everyone was beat, but still found energy to play a round of P.E.L.T!—a version of hacky sack introduced to us by Crew Leader David.

Back at Camp, Ready for PELT!

David Attacks a Blowdown
Day 4: Half the crew began the day preparing breakfast while the other half treated their blisters.  It rained intermittently in our approach to the worksite, but never enough to damper spirits.  Since the section from Russell Field to Spence Field is open to equestrian use, we had to widen the corridor a great deal.  It was well worth the time, as by the day’s end we’d met 12 riders more than willing to share their appreciation.

Dave Clears Out a Drain
Tim Backfills Crush Behind a Log Waterbar

Day 5: Our work week drawing to an end, the crew set out with the drive to finish the remaining 1.5 miles of trail.  With an ample supply of gusto, good humor, and a few sore arms, the crew raced to the finish in time to return tools to Spence and survey the several days of hard work.  Needless to say, we returned to camp satisfied with our labors.  

Day 6: We packed out after packing up camp and enjoyed ice cream down at Cades Cove.  The drive back to camp put us at Soak Ash just in time for a delicious cookout courtesy of our chef extraordinaire, Meg.  Hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled pineapple, watermelon, baked beans…. the list of amazing food seemed never to end.  A great end to a fantastic week!
Session 2 Volunteers: Tim, Andy, Vinicius (from Brazil!),
Dave, and Jeff

SWEAT 2015: The Season Begins!

Session 1 Crew & Leaders at Newfound Gap

SWEAT 2015 has commenced! Let the work (and fun!) begin!

Taking a break on Charlie's Bunion.

Day 1: On the SWEAT Crew's first session in 2015, the volunteers took a break on the ascent to check out Charlie's Bunion.  Afterwards, veteran trail volunteer Randy led the way to our camp for the week.

Restored sidehill trail
Day 2: On our first day of trail work, the crew quickly got to know each other, as well as the tools they'd be using all week.  Andy enjoys working with pulaskis, Sharon, the pick-mattock.  It was quickly apparent that Andrew (aka Redbeard) is an expert rock worker, so his experience was put to use with the assistance of Kayla, Andy, and Randy.  Meanwhile David, Sharon, John and Morgan worked on restoring about 75 feet of trail near Laurel Top.


Rock waterbar being installed
Day 3: Chris, the ATC Trail Specialist, joined our efforts for the day in order to instruct us on design and installation of diagonal stack rock waterbars.  Near the end of the day John had a minor accident with a folding saw that resulted in him and David hiking out to seek a medical opinion.  Luckily, the doctor let him return the following day.  We had a great dinner—mac and chili—packaged up ahead of time by our camp coordinator, Meg.  After eating, we told some funny stories, ha, ha.

Our Crew Leaders back at camp
Kayla clears a gnarly blowdown
Day 4: This was a day for brushing.  The whole team worked together to clear more than a mile of overgrowth, including a few blowdowns.  Back at camp, everyone shared their ideas for camp recipes (some sounded better than others!). 

Andy restores some sidehill trail
Day 5: More brushing.  Our motto changed from 'think like a raindrop' to 'think like a hiker' as we continued clearing impediments.  Meanwhile Redbeard did a fabulous job cleaning waterbars and using crushed rock to fill in low, muddy areas.

Can we eat yet?

Enjoying a beautiful sunset in the Smokies
Day 6: The hike out.  Everyone got up super early, packed fast, and hiked even quicker to get some great grub back at base camp.  After cleaning up, the team received their shirts and went their separate ways.  Banner SWEAT Crew opener this summer! Great work everyone on Session 1!
Great work great week!