Are you willing to get out of your tent in the morning, drive a couple of hours, grab some digging tools, hike 1.5 miles, and then start digging trail? More importantly, are you willing to do all that in the pouring rain? That is exactly what about 74 hikers did on Sunday, May 15, 2005 as they left Damascus Trail Days and ventured to help TEHCC relocate steep and eroding trail just north of Bitter End. Nine Club members and affiliates joined the hikers, only we were lucky enough to rise from bed, rather than a sleeping bag. Fortunately, by early afternoon the rains tapered off and there was only an occasional light mist.
It was a menacing start to our club’s fifth annual Damascus Hard Core project. This event is always planned for the Sunday and Monday following Damascus Trail Days. Even with the poor weather the turnout was only slightly less than expected. Over these two days we had 80 hikers and guests plus 23 club members and affiliates participate for a total of 1465 hours.
When this motivated and energetic group comes together, there are significant achievements. This year our expectations were exceeded! Over a half mile of difficult trail was built. This completed two relocations and about 70% of a third relocation. Eight rock steps were installed at a switchback. A twelve foot bridge was carried about 3 miles in towards Moreland Gap Shelter and was installed at the last stream crossing before the shelter. About seven feet of turnpike and two steps were also installed at the same location.
Camo with a band of about half dozen men, many of them ex-military, built a very impressive 50 foot bridge of rock on a stream crossing on one relocation. One rock they moved probably exceeded two tons. It was certainly not expected that they could complete this rock work in a day and a half. They also opened up a view from the bridge of a small waterfall.
Everyone played a critical role in achieving these goals. Each participant received a Damascus Hard Core patch. Some hikers have attended each of the five Hard Core events. Several deserve special mention for making this event a success. Mountain Man brought 18 dozen eggs to the hikers at Kincora Hostel. Eastman Chemical Company provided two 15 passenger vans for transporting many of the hikers. Bruce and Mary Cunningham provided the entire supper for everyone on Sunday evening. Mary prepared the entire meal of barbecue, tossed salad, baked beans and fresh strawberry short cake for 100 people. Special thanks to Bob Peoples for arranging the logistics of this event. Also special thanks to both Bob and Pat Peoples for accommodating up to 60 hikers at Kincora Hostel. The men and women of Billville collected $300 to cover the majority of the cost of dinner on Monday evening.
by Carl Fritz