SWEAT Crew Session 3
Written with the help of the whole crew
Little Bald to Gregory Bald Trail
Majestic Matt led our 9-mile ascent to magnificent Mollies Ridge. The weather was hot and muggy with afternoon thunder. On our way in, we saw a bear as we were approaching Russell Field shelter’s water source and a rattlesnake as we closed in on Mollies Ridge shelter, which was just the beginning of all the wildlife we saw this session. We made it to our camp that evening after a grueling hike up Russell Field trail before hitting the A.T. and after Noah and James cleared a blowdown along the way, and set up our tents behind the shelter.
After stretch circle, we headed out south on the A.T., working our way to Gregory Bald trail. We make it about a mile and a half clearing waterbars and the corridor. Matt, our fearless leader, was attacked by a bee at 9:13am and was incapacitated by Benadryl by the afternoon, so he made his way back to camp to rest. The rest of the crew continued on working, James and Noah saw another bear, and by 4 o’clock we found ourselves an unknown distance from camp (estimated mile and a half). David went forging for water, which he luckily found under the blue blaze at Ekaneetlee Gap, before we headed back to camp to be greeted by Matt who was prepping for dinner. After dinner, as Matt and James were cleaning dishes, they found out someone had used our sump hole as their privy!
We worked our way towards Little Bald in the morning. Sean was supposed to meet us today, but he got held up in the office. So after lunch we headed back to the shelter, where we stopped to refill on water and talk to some hikers. From the shelter we kept on towards Gregory Bald trail, working from where we ended on day two, clearing waterbar’s and brushing. On our way back to camp we came across to more bears and later that night we also hog watched as a herd of hogs came near camp.
Sean finally made it to camp in the morning after being held up all day at the office the day before. From there we headed out to work on tread all day! Sean left at lunch, but not before he and Matt saw another bear, but fear not we were later greeted by the man himself, Randy Puckett (don’t worry Andy, we told him you said hi). During our tread work, we also angered a nest of yellow jackets and had to leave a section at the end of our sidehill alone, but we completed about 206 feet of bench work!
We headed out to finish a section of tread work that we had begun at the end of the day before. After finishing that section, we split up into two groups and one group headed out to the end of our section, Gregory Bald trail, while the other group worked from where we had stopped on day three towards the Gregory Bald trail. The two groups ended up meeting around lunch, and after lunch we worked on two short sections that desperately needed sidehill work. We also had some trail magic, as Brad, a volunteer from session one and two, hiked up to see us for the afternoon and brought us apples and bananas (however, he forgot the cookies Chloë had asked him to hike up to us)!
Hike out day! We packed all our gear and the crew was on trail a few minutes after 8:00am, ready for a mostly downhill hike, which proved much easier than our hike in. It took us about four hours to hike out, where we ended up in the Cades Cove picnic area to the smell of some really good food being cooked over fires. We then made it back to basecamp, where the crew cleaned the tools and put away all the crew gear, and everyone finally got to shower! Chloë then cooked us a great meal of burgers, veggie burgers, and salad, and we had the rest of the night to hangout and talk before our awesome crew members left the next day.