Hard Core – Mountaineer Falls Shelter Construction (2006)

Everyone participating in the sixth annual Damascus Hard Core on Sunday, May 21, and Monday, May 22, exceeded expectations again. The first expectation exceeded was the number of hikers that showed up. Would you believe 143 hikers gave their time to help this year? In addition, 28 TEHCC members and affiliates also helped to pull off this major event. These 171 people donated 2209 hours of volunteer time to the Appalachian Trail. A major portion of work was on and around the new shelter about 1.5 miles south of Walnut Mountain Road. A secondary project was trail relocations near Low Gap on Unaka Mountain.

We started out Sunday afternoon to carry the approximately three tons of materials for the new shelter via the mile and a half of the A.T. With so many anxious hands and legs, the materials quickly disappeared off the six trucks. A small crew was stacking the materials at the shelter site. Another small crew was erecting the shelter. This first day, the two sleeping platforms and the wall framing were built and erected.

“Camo” with a small band of men started work on the water stream to correct its flow. After removing a huge blowdown from the stream and rearranging some rocks, they were able to get the water flowing in its original channel. Mountaineer Falls is again a beautiful water fall. In addition, it cleared up the water problem where the stream crosses the A.T. The crew also improved the site for collecting water above the water falls.

On the second day, Monday, we still had 42 hikers and five club members working around the shelter. One crew continued building the shelter and got the rafters up plus a lot of the board and batten siding. (The shelter was open for business on May 29 and finished completely on June 6.) Another crew of hikers toted rocks and busted them with sledge hammers for crush and fill for the two ditches comprising 80 feet. These ditches divert water which is coming down the hill away from shelter. A third crew built a trail from the shelter to the water source.

Also on the second day, another crew of 46 hikers and nine club members built trail relocations just north of Low Gap on Unaka Mountain. The relocations were necessary to reduce erosion and decrease the slope of the trail. The hikers exceeded expectations again by installing over 2200 feet of sidehill trail on this single day.

by Carl Fritz