S.W.E.A.T. Session 4: Rocky Top

               This session was a hiking week! Our hike in, a 5-mile hike to Spence Field Shelter, where we camped for the week, was the easier part of the week (though we did end up hiking in a thunderstorm at the very end of the hike). The next four workdays consisted of a 2-mile hike, a 13-mile hike out to Derrick Knob Shelter and back, an 8-mile hike, and a 5-mile hike. The terrain of this section was also the hardest of all the sections the crew covers during S.W.E.A.T.; the crew had to hike up Rocky Top (everyday), over Thunderhead Mountain, down to a couple gaps and then back up to Derrick Knob Shelter. Luckily, we had an awesome crew consisting of Sarah, who joined us during the previous session, Jenny, Joey, and David. This section was 6.5-miles long and was very brushed in, so we had our work cut out for us.
The day the crew hiked out to Derrick Knob Shelter, we were only able to get 3 hours of work in, and the rest was spent hiking. Though in those 3 hours of work, we were able to cover 2.5-miles of trail! Even though this session was incredibly challenging with all the hiking, our crew was able to brush the whole section and finish clearing almost all of the drains.

We also had an awesome surprise this week: Bobby, the Rocky Top Crew Leader from years past, came out to join us on day 3 and hiked in an amazing dinner of homemade lasagna, garlic bread, salad, and ice cream! Knowing that Bobby was hiking in to meet us and bringing us food was a good motivator, helping us get back to camp!
Bobby also joined us the next day and gave us an extra hand brushing, which helped a lot.

That was not our only surprise of the week though; Jenny saw a bear while she was using the bathroom, which was pretty cool too!
               Though this section was tough to hike, we had great views: Rocky Top offered a 360 degree view, there were a couple meadows on our way to the top of Thunderhead that looked out on Cades Cove, we could see Clingmans Dome off in the distance from Briar Knob, and we could see Fontana Lake from a nice grassy bald before the climb up Rocky Top.  We also could not have asked for nicer weather, though it was a little warm, we had sunshine for every workday and for our hike down.  
This session and group was a lot of fun and we completed so much work! Thank you for all the work you completed Sarah, Jenny, Joey, and David.