S.W.E.A.T. Crew Session 2: Derricks Knob Death March

This week on crew we had two returning crewmembers from session one, Paul and Caitlin, and then four new crewmembers, Tyler, Logan, Sara, and Christian. The hike in was mostly downhill, a nice change from session one’s hike in, and six miles. However, the workweek was grueling. The crew had a six-mile section to cover and no matter which way you walked, it was always uphill! The first workday we worked about a mile away from camp, widening the corridor so hikers don’t have to weed-whack their way through, and clearing drains.

That morning the crew worked in some light rain, thought the afternoon proved to be nice, with mild temperatures. Tuesday, the crew worked three miles away from camp under the only some partially blue sky.   Though of course, it did rain that evening after dinner.

Wednesday was the real test though, in the morning we hiked out all the way to Derek’s Knob shelter, a six-mile hike, and began working back to where we had stopped the day before. The weather stayed nice most of the day, raining on us as we worked for a short period in the afternoon. Then after working, the crew had to hike back to camp, the most grueling part of the workweek!
The hike back was, of course, up hill, though it was made better by our constant complaining and Tyler’s made up words as we played the game Contact. The crew didn’t end up getting back to camp until 6:10 that evening, so we enjoyed a shorter

last day of work!                              
Which was really nice because it started raining around 10 in the morning on our last day of work and did not end until around midnight! The rain and wind were caused by tropical storm Cindy, which lead to a restless night for most of the crew. The next morning the crew was up early and the hike out was achieved pretty quickly, as we were all ready to dry out and get warm, an interesting thing to be wanting in the middle of June!

S.W.E.A.T. Session 1

Working on AT from Gregory Bald to Little Bald 

Crew season started out on a great foot with session one. Joining Davis and Katie were: Hans, who carried up enough food to feed the entire crew and basically had his own concessions stand all week; Caitlin, who uttered the infamous line, “I just raked that s**t off” after Andy re-naturalized the area Caitlin had just debermed; Paul, the traveling Englishman; Matt, who was our daily reminder to just breath; and Andy, the crews tireless drain cleaner (and is also banned from playing PELT).

The crew enjoyed a challenging 9-mile hike up Russell Field Trail to the A.T. and then on to Mollies Ridge Shelter, where we set up camp for the week. The crew was able to meet Hopeful, the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club maintainer for this section, and his brother, Wayne for the first three days of the session. The work section was from Doe Knob to Gregory Bald Trail, a 4-mile section, that the crew did an excellent job of maintaining; 118 drains were cleared, 548 feet of trail were debermed, 15 new drains were built, 1,258 feet of tread was redefined, 4 miles of brushing, and 8 feet of closing off trail braiding (when people start to make social trails around the trail itself).
All the work was done under beautiful blue sky and nice temperatures, except for about thirty minutes of rain during lunch on the fifth day.

The crew week was also full of wildlife sightings; a couple of grown hogs were spotted on the hike to work, as well as some baby hogs that were sighted around dusk one night, some fearless dear were seen around the shelter, and a momma bear with her two cubs, the cubs climbed a tree and then scooted back down, were noticed on the hike out. Thank you to all our volunteers on session 1 for making this a great first week of crew and for all the hard work that was accomplished!