Friday, October 9, 2009

BIG DIG ~ ThunderHill ~ Blowing Rock ~ Watauga Task Force

Our second Big Dig was held October 3, 4 on ThunderHill and Don Hayes Road in Watauga County.
It was a blustery morning up here in these mountains. John, our Watauga Task Force Coordinator, was out early to greet all volunteers as they arrived.
John is always enthusiastic and welcoming to those who share an interest in the MST in Watauga. John has devoted countless hours, selfless leadership, and amazing organization skills behind the scenes to make this event come together.
Soon the Man of the Day, weekend, perhaps the century (well, 80 some years of it ;-) arrives. Allen deHart had tirelessly led us all in the building of this trail. His knowledge of the trail, his history with the Watauga section going back to 1998, and his charismatic leadership has gotten us to this point. We could not do what we do without him doing what he does for all of us. Much of this weekend Big Dig happened because of his good planning, experience, and dedication (shall we say devotion) to the MST.
Socializing, catching up with old friends, waiting for the day to begin.
Quite a crowd arrived and we had approximately 30 workers off an on during the Big Dig. And many other volunteers behind the scenes.
These fine students are Georgia Tech Trailblazers. They came up to these mountains on their fall break to do volunteer work on our trail. Can we get a hip hip hooray!
Planning the teams and inspiring the kids, Allen steps right in and seeks out the leaders in this group. Within hours he will have trained and motivated them with his skills as a teacher and leader. Thanks Allen!

Building a Bridge Before Lunch ~ a long post

Bruce gives an orientation ~ "OK here is the bridge, now, put it together"....
And then take it out of the trailer and haul it over there in the woods by that creek. ;-)
And we did just that, one piece at a time.
The longest boards are the 2X12 beams that will be bolted together to span the creek.
Here they are being bolted by the team.
The assembled beams must now be bolted to the rail posts.
Learning new tools and the way to work with them became important.
Each side is becoming quite heavy, consisting of double two by twelves and five four by fours.
I really like this photo!
Just some perfect form fitting positive/negative shape spooning going on here!
Once these are assembled, it will be time to work on the footers. A trench was dug and the footer, a six by six was set in the ground.
A vigorous workout ensued in driving re bar into anchor the footers.
Teresa and Martha held the first competition on opposite sides of the creek.
Now the guys go at it, Bruce is coaching Will as he squares off with Andrew.
And the winner does a little victory dance!
Once the beams are set on the footer the end cap is placed between them. Then an anchor post is attached to the end cap and footer.
Cross braces are attached at intervals across the span and between the beams.
Bruce was an excellent teacher and guided the project with enthusiasm. (Methinks he has done this before ;-)
Everyone uses
every tool....
Working together to hammer and bolt this bridge together.
Sometimes when are building a bridge you just have to get your feet wet.
I love this image of focused attention and cooperation.

In this image you can see the corner anchor post in the ground.
Now concrete is poured into the hole to anchor the anchor. Our bridge will not float away.
Time to place the treads on the beams. Each board is inspected and placed so that if it warps it will warp down not upward.
The treads are distributed.....
Spacing is checked by Bruce
And then it is "Hammer Time".... everyone finds a way to drive in their nails!
Side rails are attached 1/2 the height of the posts.
Then 2X6 hand rails are pulled into place and nailed on the top of the second rail.
The crew and their mighty might power tools.
And to test the strength and measure the effort all eight of us stand proud on our bridge.
To conclude, there can not be enough kind words to say about the planning, the organization, the material purchases, the pre-cutting of the pieces, or the leadership shown by Bruce in process of designing and constructing this bridge. Thanks from all of us in Watauga and the Friends of MST Bruce,
Good Job!

Lunch Break ~ Much Appreciated Food and Fellowship

Then only thing better than working in the shade of the forest all morning is coming out for a great lunch and basking in the sun on Thunder Hill.
Our volunteers put together fantastic meals for our student volunteers. Margaret and Dolly Rose fussed over everyone of them and made sure everyone was satisfied.
From her makeshift kitchen there flowed the horn of plenty for all of us.
We all enjoyed sitting on the edge of forever, "like birds on a wire" as Allen said. Basking in the sun and enjoying conversation and soaking in the view. What more could you want?
Perhaps a little banjo music? OH YEAH!

October 3 ~ Saturday Morning Effort

Look at the trail we are making! Cutting a foot tread up the hill and around this big oak tree!
For some of the volunteers this was the first time they had used the tools and made the effort to build a trail!
In the two pictures above you can see the running start they made this morning.
Following the ground flags the tread is being developed.
To create a curve like this precision and focused effort were required. Georgia Tech Trailblazers rose to the challenge!
Working together in small groups they moved along one section at a time.
Clipping roots with the loppers ~
Cutting and raking with the mattock ~
Volunteers and students working side by side.
Enjoying the light in the forest dappling upon the ground.
Making decisions and choices as they leveled the tread.
This tool is a McCloud rake and has a cutting side and a raking side. The flat side is being used to level here.
A chop and a root is removed from the trail tread.
Groups of four worked together as one team.
Or pairs of two would find a section to improve.
Sometimes solitaire efforts contributed to the whole.
Allen and Dolly were always present with a smile and encouragement.
Allen deftly points out the way with his double handled loppers! :-)