Recent AT Maintenance

Below is submitted maintenance activities for the last 6 weeks. Please note that trail conditions can change quickly. Or view maintenance by section.

Reporting: Bill Murdoch
Date: 11/21/2014
Purpose: Koonford Bridge Build
Section: 10: Hampton trailhead to Dennis Cove Road
People: Bill Murdoch
Summary: Bill added some needed cable clamps to tie individual major components in case the bridge is ever washed out. This should be the finishing touch to this bridge.

Reporting: Vic Hasler
Date: 11/21/2014
Purpose: More uphill side brush removal
Section: 19b: Curley Maple Gap Shelter - Nolichucky River
People: Vic Hasler
Summary: Brush trimming was completed on the center quarter mile of trail half way between the Nolichucky River bridge and outfitter during the sunny afternoon. This part of the trail could also use some rehab in short stretches to address sloughing debris, which was slightly challenging to walk upon under the bed of fallen leaves. Next work on this specific portion will approach from the south to address the rhododendron along the sidehill relocation.

Reporting: Lynn DiFiore
Date: 11/21/2014
Purpose: Routine maintenance
Section: 14b: Bradley Gap to Stan Murray Shelter
People: Lynn DiFiore
Summary: Picked up a small amount of trash at the barn & replaced the register. Cut out 4 blow downs (8-10" size) & removed numerous limbs that had fallen on the trail. Cleaned all waterbars & rolling dips. Removed a new fire ring that had been constructed near Overmountain Trail. Trail was very muddy & slick, but overall in good condition. Still a good bit of snow on north slopes near Bradley Gap. All springs were running well. Met 3 SOBO hikers who were planning to stay at the barn.

Reporting: Lynn DiFiore
Date: 11/21/2014
Purpose: Routine maintenance
Section: 14b: Bradley Gap to Stan Murray Shelter
People: Lynn DiFiore
Summary: Picked up a small amount of trash at the barn & replaced the register. Cut out 4 blow downs (8-10" size) & removed numerous limbs that had fallen on the trail. Cleaned all waterbars & rolling dips. Removed a new fire ring that had been constructed near Overmountain Trail. Trail was very muddy & slick, but overall in good condition. Still a good bit of snow on north slopes near Bradley Gap. All springs were running well. Met 3 SOBO hikers who were planning to stay at the barn.

Reporting: Lynn DiFiore
Date: 10/09/2014
Purpose: Routine maintenance
Section: 14b: Bradley Gap to Stan Murray Shelter
People: Lynn DiFiore
Summary: Picked up a moderate amount of trash at the barn & Bradley Gap campsites, cleaned up blue blazes from barn to trail, blue blazed spring at Bradley Gap, removed limbs from trail. Saw numerous day & section hikers & 1 SOBO. All springs are running well.

Reporting: Lynn DiFiore
Date: 10/09/2014
Purpose: Routine maintenance
Section: 14b: Bradley Gap to Stan Murray Shelter
People: Lynn DiFiore
Summary: Picked up a moderate amount of trash at the barn & Bradley Gap campsites, cleaned up blue blazes from barn to trail, blue blazed spring at Bradley Gap, removed limbs from trail. Saw numerous day & section hikers & 1 SOBO. All springs are running well.

Reporting: Mike Hupko
Date: 11/21/2014
Purpose: Clear reported blow downs
Section: 18: FS230 switchback to Indian Grave Gap
People: Howard Guinn, Mike Hupko
Summary: We cleared two reported blow downs and removed four other trees partially blocking the trail which were not reported. Cut many low hanging branches over the trail and picked up trash at one campsite.

Reporting: Vic Hasler
Date: 11/21/2014
Purpose: Measure third trail relocation south of Little Rock Knob
Section: 16a: Hughes Gap to Greasy Creek Gap
People: Vic Hasler
Summary: Yet another relocation was opened in this section on November 8, 2014 with assistance of the ASU Trail Crew. Measurements taken today found the new 1,385 ft. route addresses the tread erosion versus the prior 685 ft. path. The trail distance from Little Rock Knob highpoint to the Clyde Smith shelter sign is 1.2 miles, thus adding another 0.1 mile to the 0.2 mile previously reported back in August. Shelter was found in good condition with eight entries in November. A bit of trash was hauled out from there on a fast walk back to truck through inch snow.

Reporting: Carl Fritz
Date: 11/20/2014
Purpose: Rehab trail
Section: 10: Hampton trailhead to Dennis Cove Road
People: Paul Benfield, Ken Buchanan, Richard Carter, Carl Fritz, Joe Morris, Bill Murdoch, Bob Peoples, Kim Peters, Tim Stewart, Lindsay Fleming
Summary: We continued our work on the sloping rocks beside Laurel Fork and before junction with AT. We gathered many rocks and locust side logs. More will be needed. With much sweat in cold weather, we significantly improved another 80 feet of trail.

Reporting: Carl Fritz
Date: 11/13/2014
Purpose: Rehab trail
Section: 9b: Pond Flats to Hampton trailhead
People: Paul, Benfield, Ken Buchanan, Carl Fritz, Ted Mowery, Kim Peters
Summary: We started rehabbing the trail on the sloping rocky area beside the stream before the intersection with the AT. With rock cribbing we made good progress on the end closest to Hampton. More remains to be done.

Reporting: Vic Hasler
Date: 11/14/2014
Purpose: Remove uphill woody growth
Section: 19b: Curley Maple Gap Shelter - Nolichucky River
People: Vic Hasler
Summary: Trail maintenance can be therapy – refreshing after several days of working through some frustrating paperwork. I completed a few yard jobs at home to “warm up” to the just below freezing temperatures, and then decided to go ahead with plans to work on the woody growth trail south of the outfitters. Removed anything uphill the loppers could reach, and then went back through to take out very small pines and two step-over blowdowns with a small axe so that the trail path centerline will be followed instead of walking on the lower edge. A knit cap under the hard hat was sufficiently warm – except when the hat fell off and bounced 150’ down the steep hillside to rest at the cliff edge. The forest blocked the cold breeze and spitting snow, so I was able to thoroughly cover the 0.5 mile distance to just past the 9” blowdown, which opened up the trail corridor. I’ll need another afternoon to address the 0.5 mile north of the railroad tracks, while BSA Troop 48 is scheduled to work the section from the outfitter to the shelter on Saturday, November 29th.

Reporting: Carl Fritz
Date: 11/13/2014
Purpose: Rehab trail
Section: 9b: Pond Flats to Hampton trailhead
People: Richard Carter, Joe Morris, Bill Murdoch, Bob Peoples, Tim Stewart
Summary: The crew rehabbed about 120 feet of trail on south side of Pond Mountain to improve some very poor trail.

Reporting: Carl Fritz
Date: 11/11/2014
Purpose: Assess trail
Section: Other (Meetings/preparation/etc.)
People: Jim Foster, Carl Fritz, Bob Peoples, George Thorpe
Summary: We assessed trail condition from power line above Wildermine to open area on Hump Mt. There are many rooty and sloughing areas that need to be addressed by redigging or mostly installing locust logs and backfilling. There are several rocky areas that need improving. We removed some minor broken rhodos and other obstructions and we installed a missing step. The location of these problems have been recorded by GPS.

Reporting: Carl Fritz
Date: 11/08/2014
Purpose: Dig Relocation and Cut Blowdowns
Section: 16a: Hughes Gap to Greasy Creek Gap
People: John Beaudet, Jim Chambers, Robin Dean, Jim Foster, Carl Fritz, Joe Morris, Bill Murdoch, Rhee Patrick, Bob Peoples, Mike Price, John Robbins, Kevin Sedgwick, Tim Stewart, Jack Tarlin ASU TRAIL CREW Ben Banick, Hali Burbridge f, Jeremiah Bolick, Kati Jean VanElten f, Trevar Gagnon, Maggie Phipps f, Meghan Walker f, Walter Mingiedurff, Robert Alvis
Summary: A cool but sunny day to complete the last major relocation on this section. This was started by Konnarock, continued by Wright State University and completed by ASU Trail Crew. Six of the nine from ASU were first timers. And all stayed the evening at Kincora with a pasta dinner cooked by Baltimore Jack. We were able to do an excellent job of finishing this relocation and opening it. We were also able to cut all the blowdowns from Hughes Gap to Clyde Smith Shelter thanks to our sawyer, "Just Jim", who is leaving on his one year warrior hike. This section should be clear of blowdowns. A number of our tools were repaired and sharpened after much use recently.

Reporting: Steve Perri
Date: 11/10/2014
Purpose: Attend Roan Stewardship Meeting
Section: Other (Meetings/preparation/etc.)
People: Steve Perri
Summary: The meeting of the Roan Stewardship Council was held at the Pisgah USFS office in Mars Hill. This group meets twice a year to share info on activities and programs associated with the Roan Highlands. My report is focused on items pertaining to the AT to hit the highlights. Good news on acquisitions in that a new piece of property near Carvers Gap is being acquired and another is being donated. Another tract near Yellow Mt is also being acquired. Several monitoring programs are underway including: rare plants, flying squirel, golden-winged winged warblers, invasive plants, and feral hogs. John Odell reported the intent to have more signage trail north of Carvers Gap for improved hiker education and to reinforce LNT principles. There was general agreement to do this and to perhaps articulate the need to encourage use of only existing designated fire rings and to not create new ones. John Odell shared higher impact measures from expanded use at Roan High Knob. Possible confinement or containment can be achieved by iceburging or stringing areas. Next meeting is likely to be a whole day to cover topics in more detail next year.

Reporting: Paul Benfield
Date: 11/08/2014
Purpose: Dig trail
Section: 5: TN91 to Iron Mountain Shelter
People: Paul Benfield, Ted Mowery
Summary: Relocation completed except for blazing and tying in each end of the relo. Dug around 75 feet of sidehill and removed all deadfalls and fallen limbs from the new relo.

Reporting: scott
Date: 11/06/2014
Purpose: General maintenance
Section: 12a: Bitter End to Walnut Mountain Road
People: scott
Summary: following early season snow storm went out to check section, cut back overhanging laurels, and remove blowdowns. Some of the downed trees were locust hardwood difficult to cut with handsaw. This section now in good condition.

Reporting: scott
Date: 11/06/2014
Purpose: General maintenance
Section: 12a: Bitter End to Walnut Mountain Road
People: scott
Summary: following early season snow storm went out to check section, cut back overhanging laurels, and remove blowdowns. Some of the downed trees were locust hardwood difficult to cut with handsaw. This section now in good condition.

Reporting: Carl Fritz
Date: 11/05/2014
Purpose: Finish Koonford Bridge
Section: 10: Hampton trailhead to Dennis Cove Road
People: Carl Fritz, Mary Jane Fritz
Summary: We lacked some specialized tools during the previous outing to bridge. We used a shipping auger to drill tree to install the cable rather than girdle the tree. Also, we used a draw knife to shape some of the top hand rail half lap junctions so that hand rail is smoother.

Reporting: Joe Morris
Date: 11/05/2014
Purpose: Remove Blowdowns
Section: 9b: Pond Flats to Hampton trailhead
People: Joe Morris
Robin Dean
Jim Chambers
Summary: SOBO Hikers advised a "blowdown group" was making the trail all but impassable on the southside of Pond Mtn. Robin and I removed the oaks underneath a large Pine that had taken two other trees with it during the recent storm. Jim "Just Jim" Chambers came to the rescue and guided the removal of the 2 Ft. diameter Pine that was precariously perched some 30 feet on an upslope above the blue blaze intersection. We removed some other minor tangles and avoided the rain. It's going to be a long year without our buddy Jim around!

Reporting: Paul Benfield
Date: 11/04/2014
Purpose: Trail Maintenance
Section: 4b: Double Springs Shelter to TN91
People: Paul Benfield
Summary: Removed limbs and rhodo breakdown trees from the trail. Blazes in good shape. Water bars clear Shovel, Broom and logbook at the Shelter. Everything is in good condition. Snow melting but saw no leaks at Shelter. Saw the largest bear tracks I ever encountered about 1/2 miles south of the Shelter. They appeared around 4"x 5".


'

Reporting: scott vandam
Date: 11/02/2014
Purpose: blowdown removals
Section: 12a: Bitter End to Walnut Mountain Road
People: Scott
Summary: following the early Halloween winter storm, went out to clear trail. Unfortunately these wet storms weigh down the many laurels in this section and require many to be cut because they are leaning to low across the trail. i first try to knock the snow out of them, if they don't spring back with good trail clearance they are then cut. The trail from hostel to Bitten End in good condition now will do the other half next outing.

Reporting: Bob Peoples
Date: 10/30/2014
Purpose: Lop rhodos
Section: 10: Hampton trailhead to Dennis Cove Road
People: Jack Tarlin
Summary: "Baltimore Jack" cut back rhododendron from Hampton to Dennis Cove to improve the trail.

Reporting: Richard Carter
Date: 10/30/2014
Purpose: cut blowdown & general maintenance
Section: 14b: Bradley Gap to Stan Murray Shelter
People: Richard Carter
Summary: I hiked the section to check on condition, cut & removed a blowdown just below the first switchback, checked the spring which was flowing slowly but adequately, cut several dozen encroaching briars, took several pictures to document the condition of the deteriorating foundation of the back of the shelter, and picked up and carried out a copious amount of trash. I noted a couple of wet areas that I need to drain on a future trip when I have digging tools, and more briars that need cutting.

Reporting: Mike Hupko
Date: 10/30/2014
Purpose: Repair Trail
Section: 18: FS230 switchback to Indian Grave Gap
People: Judy Middlemas, Eric Middlemas, Faye Guinn, Howard Guinn, Ernie Hartford, Wayne Jones, Mike Hupko
Summary: Harvested locust logs at Iron Mountain Gap area and transported them to Indian Grave Gap area for installation as cribbing and water bars. Installed side logs and repaired and leveled about 40 feet of trail. Installed 3 new water bars and removed 2 trees leaning over the trail and one tree across the trail.

Reporting: Carl Fritz
Date: 10/30/2014
Purpose: Dig relo and remove boulder
Section: 1: TN/VA state line to Backbone Rock Trail
People: Paul Benfield, Ken Buchanan, Pat Loven, Ted Mowery, Kim Peters, George Thorpe
Summary: A large boulder had slid onto the rock steps leaving the parking lot. Trail was practically blocked. Reuben Potter and Brandon helped our crew remove this major boulder. (One of our returning sledge hammers was worn considerably.) Our crew continued to build the relocation closest to the parking lot which we started in the fall with ASU.

Reporting: Carl Fritz
Date: 10/30/2014
Purpose: Dig relocation
Section: 16a: Hughes Gap to Greasy Creek Gap
People: Carl Fritz, Jim Foster, Greg Kramer, Joe Morris, Bob Peoples, Kevin Sedgwick, Tim Stewart, "Forager"
Summary: Jim scouted his section, removed some blowdowns including those near Greasy Creek Gap reported by a hiker recently. There still are some chainsaw sized blowdowns that we may get in ten days. We concentrated on digging the relo between Little Rock Knob and Clyde Smith Shelter. We were able to put in locust log steps at switchback. One more day with a good sized group may allow us to finish this relo.
"Forager", a south bounder, hiked 53 miles in two and a half days from Kincora to work with us today!
It was a beautiful fall day to be on the trail.

Reporting: Jim Chambers
Date: 10/30/2014
Purpose: Blow Down Removal
Section: 12b: Walnut Mountain Road to Sugar Hollow Creek
People: Jim Chambers
Mike Price (Lumpy)
Summary: Me and Lumpy removed a very large and complex tangle of blow downs just south of Walnut Mountain Road.

Reporting: Rick Lott
Date: 10/28/2014
Purpose: Remove blowdown
Section: 12d: Campbell Hollow Road to US19E
People: Rick Lott, Vicki Lott
Summary: We cut 20-22” blow down between Buck Mtn Church and Campbell Hollow Rd. that had been reported by Joe Morris. It looked like a small microburst had gone thru the area. Lot of trees down and even the rhodies were all leaning over in one direction.

Reporting: Kim Peters
Date: 10/27/2014
Purpose: Measure relocation
Section: 6: Iron Mountain Shelter to Vandeventer Shelter
People: Kim Peters
Summary: The purpose of this trip was to measure the relocation near Turkeypen Gap that SAWS completed this summer. I hiked in from TN91 and started measuring with the wheel at the spring just south of Iron Mt. Shelter and finished at Vandeventer Shelter. The data has been given to Vic Hasler. The SAWS did a fine job on the relocation. I almost missed it! It wasn't until I saw some recently painted blazes and noticed a freshly cut bank under the blanket of fallen leaves that I realized I was on the relo.
It was lovely weather to be out in the woods and I met many southbounders and several section hikers. The spring at Iron Mt. Shelter is flowing well. There is water at the spring south of Turkeypen Gap, but it is not piped as the guidebook states. I spoke to some section hikers who said they were able to get water at the Vandeventer Shelter source but struggled with the climb down and back out. The spring 3 miles north of Wilbur Dam Road has water, but it is very low. I was able to collect some there. There are quite a few step over blowdowns but no major obstructions on this section of trail.

Reporting: Craig Haire
Date: 10/23/2014
Purpose: treadway rehab
Section: 20a: Nolichucky River to Temple Hill Gap
People: Craig Haire
Summary: Three segments were leveled out that had excessive outsloping.

Reporting: Ken and Lotta Murray
Date: 10/25/2014
Purpose: Routine Maintenance
Section: 20b: Temple Hill Gap to Spivey Gap
People: Ken Murray
Lotta Murray
Summary: Trail is in pretty good shape. This section is clear of brush and blowdowns. There are a several short sections where side hill erosion has exposed roots making hiking somewhat challenging. Due to the roots, repair of these areas will probably require cribbing.

No Business Knob shelter is structurally in decent shape. The roof is not leaking. There was quite a bit of trash under the platform and in the firepit. Hopefully after it is painted it will the trash problem will diminish.

We obliterated one stealth campfire ring.

Reporting: Vic Hasler
Date: 10/24/2014
Purpose: Assess campsites
Section: 19b: Curley Maple Gap Shelter - Nolichucky River
People: Vic Hasler
Summary: Friday afternoon walk to review more facilities in this section. After parking at the outfitters, first found the former bridge over a dry gully which is no longer part of the trail after the 2012-13 relocation. The NPS database has seven campsites listed, with three being called deficient. All, but one, are north of the outfitter up to the fourth bridge. The policy of TEHCC is to allow camping all along the trail consistent with resource protection. All campsites within Jones Branch watershed appear to be acceptable per the club policy, while two from the 2006-2008 survey could not be found, thus showing how the locations shift around over time. No trash was observed at any of these sites. Even more rhododendron was clipped, while also opening up some of the path with a medium bow saw. Confirmed a statement from Carl that bow saws easily bind – thus learning to not attempt anything larger than what hands can go around. Backtracked to the southern part of section to check out the one bootleg campsite, which probably should be dismantled because of being too close to a neighborhood. The location also has a significant amount of trash, glass bottles, rusting steel beverage cans, and… a very old refrigerator. Obtained coordinates for the last item to develop a plan for its removal from just inside the USFS land (noting red boundary stripes painted on nearby trees). Finally, four small bags of trash were gathered and hauled out on the way back to the truck. A productive afternoon of trail maintenance while enjoying the fall colors.

Reporting: Carl Fritz
Date: 10/23/2014
Purpose: Replace Koonford Bridge
Section: 10: Hampton trailhead to Dennis Cove Road
People: Paul Benfield, Ken Buchanan, Richard Carter, Jim Chambers, Carl Fritz, Pat Loven, Joe Morris, Ted Mowery, Bill Murdoch, Bob Peoples, Kim Peters, Mike Price, Kevin Sedgwick, Jack Tarlin, Tim Stewart, George Thorpe
Summary: We completed the final checklist for Koonford Bridge. The tasks included caulking between sills and concrete, mortaring rocks on concrete caps of piers so concrete is not visible, removing some magic marker markings, riveting the bolts for hand rails so nuts cannot be removed, adding rust reformer to deck screw heads, adding a large cable to tie down northern and central spans, adding some large rocks as a buffer for dry laid wall on northern end of bridge, and improving the trail approaches. Some of the crew were able to rehab some rocky areas north and south of the bridge. Hopefully, this will be the last major work effort on Koonford Bridge for many years.

Reporting: Paul Benfield
Date: 10/22/2014
Purpose: Mow camping area and trails
Section: 14b: Bradley Gap to Stan Murray Shelter
People: Paul Benfield, Ted Mowery
Summary: Mowed the camp area Checked the trails all in good shape. Policed the barn and camp. Moved rocks as needed. Very cold temp prob in the 30s Shelter in good shape. Water running good. Trail has standing water and muddy on both sides of previous ditching about 30 feet from the front of the shelter. Needs work when time is available.

Reporting: Paul Benfeld
Date: 10/22/2014
Purpose: Mow accessable Trail
Section: 4b: Double Springs Shelter to TN91
People: Paul Benfield, Ted Mowery
Summary: Went to Osborne Farm and checked the
Accessible Trail. It had been fenced off and the cattle had previously eaten off the grass.
The new fences have been installed and the cattle can no longer get on the trail trail south of the barn. The fencing off of the Accessible Trail appears to be complete. The 4 forest service personnel was there today and said they were cutting blowdowns to the shelter and would paint the blazes tomorrow to the shelter. The trail had been eaten off very good so we did not mow.
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Reporting: Mike Hupko
Date: 10/20/2014
Purpose: Finish Fall Maintenance
Section: 18: FS230 switchback to Indian Grave Gap
People: Marsha Hupko, Mike Hupko
Summary: From FS230 to Indian Grave Gap we cleared 5 trees from the trail, removed smaller branches, and lopped. Set 4 metal posts with white blazes on Beauty Spot. Picked up trash on trail and in the Beauty Spot parking area.

Reporting: Steve Perri
Date: 10/18/2014
Purpose: ATC SORO Regional Partnership Meeting
Section: Other (Meetings/preparation/etc.)
People: Vic Hasler, Steve Perri
Summary: Our fall ATC partnership meeting was held at the Asheville ATC Regional Office.

A range of topics were covered with a full agenda prepared for this all day meeting. Updates from the APPA (Appalachian Trail Park Office) and ATC were provided for the Foundation Document and the ATC strategic plan. The NPS gathered club responses and incorporated those in the current version of the Foundation Document. Expect the next release in January. ATC’s strategic plan is now in a final form and a 1-pager has been prepared highlighting the 5 areas of focus. We did an exercise to gather representative inputs from clubs and that was collected to compare how well it aligned with the SORO’s 2014 and 2015 budget. Topping the list was Effective Stewardship (~50% of the budget) with Broader Relevancy (3% of the budget) coming in 2nd. Two major policy discussions being developed were Drones and Organized Group Use. Drones have recently become an issue in some locations along the AT. Fontana Dam was approved for inclusion as an AT Community. ATC License Plate fund distributions are changing to award half at the beginning and the remaining 50% at completion of the project. Group Use Campsites were discussed to convey how difficult it is to potentially plan for increased hiker traffic, what we could do given inadequate planning time, and what alternative options clubs could provide. Mostly needed would be a list of camp sites with space for multiple tents and consideration of where clubs might construct group sites. The most debated topic was the NPS Forest Management System used for trail assessment and project planning. Compared to other NP units, the AT cost measured as current replacement value (project work) is about $7.31/ft where the average is more like $49.30/ft across all park units. So there exists a bias to provide more total funds elsewhere since our list of project values are so low. So APPA and ATC want to have clubs reassess their capital plans to see how we can better represent our project values and potentially bring in 3 times the level of funds the park is currently allocated. This potentially could represent a lot of time in looking at projects over the past 10 years and possibly doing field inspections/assessments. We think some test cases ought to be established to ensure this activity can justify the time expenditures and desired sensitivity based on the level of time, difficulty, and funding level. ATC is also working to update old MOU’s across the trail. This is a long-term objective and will take years, but clubs are requested to update their USFS Volunteer Service Agreements and local management plans as a starting point. A new project approval form has been prepared by ATC and clubs are encouraged to use these for all new projects requiring resources and partner approvals. Detailed notes will be issued at a later date from the SORO office. Please let me know if you’re interested in these and I will forward them when they are available.

Reporting: Steve Perri
Date: 10/08/2014
Purpose: ATC Partnership Meeting
Section: Other (Meetings/preparation/etc.)
People: ATC – Morgan Sommerville, John O’Dell, Leanna Joyner; USFS – Cheryl Summers, Matt Fusco, Alice Cohen, Reuben Potter, Matt McCombs, Brandon Jones, Andy Hunter, Allison Williams; TEHCC – Mike Hupko, Bob Peoples, Jim Foster, Tim Stewart, Paul Benfield, Kim Peters, Ted Mowery, Carl Fritz, Steve Perri
Summary: Our fall ATC partnership meeting was held at the Watauga Ranger District Service office in Unicoi.

TEHCC reports: Since the April meeting, significant work had been carried out including: rehab of ~ 0.5 mi in the areas near Jane Bald-Stan Murray Shelter, trail S. of Clyde Smith Shelter, and Dennis Cove. Trail relos totaled ~ 1.75 mi consisting of: Backbone Rock Blue-blaze (0.7 mi w/ ASU), Little Rock Knob-Greasy Creek Gap (Hard Core and Konnarock), and Hughes Gap – Cloudland. The entire section from Hughes Gap to Cloudland is now completed after 5 yrs and has added 2 miles of additional trail w/o the steep eroding treadway.This has been a challenging project considering the required rock work, type of soil, and drainage required. The SAWS has almost completed the Turkey Pen Gap relo (0.4 mi) this year had it not been for poison ivy – it will likely be done in one more outing. Work S. of TN 91 is ongoing and will include future Konnarock work in 2015 or 2016. Koonford Bridge work is almost complete thanks to the retirees and coordinated effort with USFS staff and the hot shots – project time is almost 2,300 hrs to date. Remaining work includes approaches the bridge ends and hand rails. For the fiscal year, TEHCC reported 14,819 hrs with 376 events and 442 individuals.

Agency discussions: Andy Hunter was present as the acting ranger for Terry Bowerman, his replacement will be named soon. Allison Williams is a new volunteer coordinator in NC and was present for her first week reporting to work – she will be working in same building as SORO. Overall agreement exists for adding signage on the northbound side of Carvers Gap to improve hiker education and LNT principles. The thought is to have signs that might be single panel and located in a way to reduce their presence among the main viewpoints. John O’Dell has some info to incorporate and Matt Fusco provided a design template – maybe $500-700 ea. We’ll need to work with the Roan Stewardship Council on agreement for locations. We discussed progress with the closure of the AT around Watauga Lk. The USFS closure process will allow the trail to be reopened for the window of Nov. to a date to be set in the spring. We agreed to make local signage changes to reflect this, but will keep websites and printed media with info conveying continual closure thru next year to avoid confusion. We will be surveying work needed for the 2 bridges in Laurel Fork Wilderness – Alice would like us to review the USFS prescription for changes to structures to ensure we are consistent with the minimum requirements process. The old Koonford center span bridge removed this fall is planned to go in at Shook Branch to replace an older foot bridge – TEHCC needs to check with Lynn DiFiori for spec suitability. Morgan reminded us to anchor one end of all the bridges in the Wilderness to ensure they don’t wash away in case of future floods. The USFS is working to relocate the fencing on the Osborne tract – final result is to have accessible part cow-free. Matt described a long term plan to do more grazing in open areas over time – this could possibly help with reintroduction and expanded habitat for elk. TEHCC has 2 proposals in to the Watauga district for campsites (Wildermine Hollow grouping and temporary one S. of Shook Branch) and a relo for Old Ridge Road near Double Springs – Alice is going to follow up on these. The prescribed burn at Steel House (near Backbone Rock) is planned since it wasn’t executed previously. Another is planned near Old Ridge Rd. Hikers will be escorted during the burn.

ATC discussions: Fletcher Medina was hired for the Roan Ridgerunner season in 2014. Fletcher did a good job considering the difficulty with the high numbers of visitors and issues around conveying LNT. Some visitors felt his messaging didn’t have as much credibility w/o more signage conveying this too. Jon suggested a different schedule for the future to have coverage mostly on the weekend to allow a longer duration and to keep the person fresher. Open area funding got held up this year then released at about half ($35k). John Odell is considering hiring a person next year if funds are available to help with the expected level next year at $35k again. Noro virus education seemed to help reduce incidents this year, although more occurrences were reported in VA this year. The kiosk project partnership with Rob Martin assisting with the Eagle Scout Project is in the planning phase. TEHCC will follow up with Rob to keep up with the scout’s proposal to his committee now that he has the drawings from Cheryl. ATC would like for this project to be documented on their new project form –soon to be released in an updated version

Next meeting: April 8, 2015 location TBD.

Reporting: Kim Peters
Date: 10/18/2014
Purpose: 3rd Saturday Hiking with Tools
Section: 11b: Canute Place to Bitter End
People: Joe DeLoach, Terry Oldfield, Mary Fanslow, Tim Stewart, Kim Peters
Summary: This was another productive 3rd Saturday - Hiking with Tools trip. We all started at Mooreland Gap Shelter where we picked up trash, cleaned out the fire pit, left a new log book and broom. Then we split into two groups with Terry and Joe heading south to Bitter End with a chainsaw and Tim, Mary and Kim headed north to the Canute place and back to Mooreland Gap. We all lopped rhododendron and other woody growth and cleared multiple blowdowns ending up at Bitter End at about the same time. It was a long day, but a great day to be out in the woods and we left the trail in much better shape than we found it!

Reporting: Vic Hasler
Date: 10/17/2014
Purpose: Assess trail section
Section: 19b: Curley Maple Gap Shelter - Nolichucky River
People: Vic Hasler
Summary: Adopted this 4.2 mile section. On a sunny Friday, walked the trail to assess its highlights, condition, and needs. Last time hiked this stretch was in 2007 before the excellent relocation was installed. Highlights are the view into the Nolichucky River gorge, bridges over cascading streams, and the rhododendron when in bloom. Condition was found to be good, although six blowdowns were reported to Carl with directions and pictures. While I clipped rhododendron during the hike, the uphill side requires thorough pruning. The sidehill tread needs some rehab in several places due to severe sloughing, which later discovered two are rated critical on the ATC assessment from June 2013. Historical data shows that this section requires nine person-days of routine maintenance, so will be back with others to keep the trail open.

Reporting: Carl Fritz
Date: 10/16/2014
Purpose: Replace Koonford Bridge
Section: 10: Hampton trailhead to Dennis Cove Road
People: Daryel Anderson, John Beaudet, Paul Benfield, Ken Buchanan, Carl Fritz, Mike Hupko, Leanna Joyner, Greg Kramer, Joe Morris, Ted Mowery, Bill Murdoch, Brian Paley, Bob Peoples, Kim Peters, Mike Price, Morgan Sommerville, Tim Stewart, Jack Tarlin, George Thorpe,
Summary: 50 degrees with light rain all day was not a good harbinger. One maintainer kept saying we were certified crazy. But everyone stuck with it and the Koonford Bridge was officially opened! We installed the hand rails with some fitting since the posts and rails were just treated fence posts. Most of the crew worked diligently to rebuild both approaches so there was not a 24 inch step to get onto bridge. They used rocks to raise the trail. The north end took probably sixty feet of trail to be rebuilt. Part of the crew removed the temporary bridges close to Dennis Cove and used the soil and rock to make better ramps for the permanent bridges. The transportation trail was brushed in. The opening of the Koonford bridge was just in time. The temporary locust log bridge was washed out about a day earlier. It was about 25 feet downstream on the north bank and was destroyed by the recent heavy rains. Bill Murdoch came to the rescue late in the day by retrieving his boat trailer at the marina and transporting the 24 foot long beams from previous bridge to Rat Branch Work Center. What a crew of volunteers!

Reporting: Carl Fritz
Date: 10/15/2014
Purpose: Replace Koonford Bridge
Section: 10: Hampton trailhead to Dennis Cove Road
People: Ed Oliver, Carl Fritz
Summary: These are some accumulated hours in October to sort and label Koonford bridge hand rails, clean and repair tools like chainsaws used to cut posts, prepare hardware, and locate specialized tools.

Reporting: Kim Peters
Date: 10/17/2014
Purpose: Check shelter and trail
Section: 5: TN91 to Iron Mountain Shelter
People: Phyllis Cairnes, Kim Peters
Summary: We hiked out to the shelter, clearing numerous blowdowns along the way. There certainly was evidence of recent high winds as there was lot of small debris also in the trail. Most blowdowns we were able to drag off the trail, but several did require sawing including the top of one large tree which completely blocked the trail. At the shelter we picked up trash, cleaned up the fire pit and left a new broom and log book. We also installed a sign at the water source visible to north bounders. Not surprisingly after all the rain we have had, the spring is flowing well. On the hike back out we obliterated numerous fire pits and picked up the trash that they accumulated. I lost count of the number of south bounders and weekend hikers that we passed. It was a lovely fall day to be out in the woods.

Reporting: Mike Hupko
Date: 10/13/2014
Purpose: Fall Maintenance
Section: 17: Iron Mountain Gap to FS230 switchback
People: Mike Hupko
Summary: Picked up limbs of various sizes, cut one small tree, rehabbed about 15 feet of trail, cleaned out several dips, and picked up trash at the trail head. Scouted out location of locust logs near Iron Mountain Gap for future trail repair.