Digging New Tread on Big Calf Mountain

Let’s Move the A.T.!

Twenty–two people met at 9:00 A.M. on Saturday, October 28, 2006 at the Jarman Gap parking area on the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park to undertake an Improbable Task.

Our Mission

Build an Appalachian Trail Relocation in a Single Weekend!

Remove a short section of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail from a steep slope with unstable soil and replace it with an 800+ foot relocation on a grade of about 7%. Oh, and make it look like it’s been that way since forever.

And, all of this was to be done by The Fellowship of The McLeod. Keith Denson, an NPS– and ATC–certified sawyer, helped by removing deadfall along the cut–line of the new section.

Day One

The Fellowship began clearing undergrowth around 10:00 A.M. The Crew Leader, fortunately assisted by Mark Gatewood, rushed to pin the actual “cut line” below the summit of Big Calf Mountain. The Company began cutting side–hill by 11:00 A.M. and continued until 4:00 P.M., while barely taking time for the Afternoon Repast and hardly paying attention to their Crew Leader whenever he cried, “Take a Break, darn it!”

All Survive!

By the time the Fellowship cleaned their tools and headed back to Jarman Gap, they had roughed–in the entire new section of the A.T. (In fact, about 60% of the section was finished by the end of the workday on Saturday.) Fifteen of the Fellowship repaired to the Storied Ivy Creek Maintenance Hut near Loft Mountain Wayside, where Tom and Mary (okay, mainly Mary) had a Sumptuous Feast awaiting them.

Food, conversation, food, jokes, and more food were enjoyed by all in the semi–rustic luxury of Ivy Creek Hut while the winds howled their approval outside.

Ten stalwarts stayed overnight at the Hut and were treated to a delightful breakfast prepared by Mary. (It was the best breakfast This Humble Reporter enjoyed All Day, in fact.) After performing some work at the Hut, we moved back down the Skyline Drive to Jarman Gap to …

Badly eroded tread on unstable soil
Bob manicures the restored treadway
Don tests the stability of a rock step
Bob looks down the rebuilt trail
Is this fun or what?
Robin says it's "Or What!"
This fellow was a trail-building machine that day
George Blalack dug side-hill as if possessed
Bob's work is always meticulous and precise
Two crew members cut the relocation to rejoin the A.T.
The final task is to blaze the relocation
Mary explained the menu at Ivy Creek Hut
Crew members really enjoyed Happy Hour(s)
The "new" A.T. looking north
The relocated trail doesn't look "new"

Finish the Job

The Fellowship accomplished this by 2:00 P.M. They completed grading the tread, blazed the pathway, cut the new section in at both south and north termini, and covered over (talk about a Cover Up!) the former, heavily eroded section of the Trail.

The labor of The Fellowship was immediately Noticeable…and noticed…by the First Pair of Hikers to Trod the Tread. A young (to most of us, almost everyone else is young) couple hiking south from Jarman Gap come upon us as we finished the Final 10 Yards. They returned as we cleaned our Tools, praising the Works Wrought by The Fellowship of The McLeod.

Verily, a Job Well Done, indeed.

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