Laurel Fork Gorge Rock Steps (1998)

Thanks to a generous contribution by TEHCC members Bruce and Mary Cunningham, we were able to have a crew work for a second straight year on improving the Appalachian Trail in Laurel Fork Gorge. This is a high use area with lots of loose rock, which makes building and maintaining a stable treadway difficult.

The crew, led again this year by Fred Lashley, did a great job installing rock steps and cribbing on a section of Trail heading from the Koonford Bridge up to the old railroad grade. This section had become quite dangerous to descend and the repairs were badly needed. A total of 48 rock steps were built in the two weeks the crew worked. Fred is a practicing stone mason, and her talents and experience as a Trail crew leader were invaluable in the construction. We were able to provide good Club support as well; 13 Club members worked a total of 365 hours on the project. We also had twelve students from Appalachian State help for 96 more hours, giving a total of 461 hours on this project.

While working in the area, we were also able to build some log steps leading to the bridge on the other side; reinforce the bridge abutments which had been undercut during the infamous January floods; flag a relocation trail south of the bridge to eliminate another steep, eroding section; and start on some rock work to stabilize the Trail where it runs very close to the stream (another safety hazard).

Special thanks go to Bob and Pat Peoples, who housed the crew at their Kincora Hostel in Dennis Cove. Bob also worked every day with the crew accounting for 90 of our 365 hours!

Special thanks also to the Cunninghams, who donated not only their money, but their muscle as volunteers on this project. And, thanks to all the other volunteers: the Appalachian State students, Frank Williams, Hugh Thompson, Derrick and Bill Stowell, Mary Ellen Ress, Steve Perri, Ed Oliver, Bill and Adair Murdoch, and Joe DeLoach. Finally, thanks to Fred and her crew for all their hard and good work!