Sunday, April 25, 2010

April in Section 3 Volunteers ~ THANKS!

We have been busy trying to recover from the winter storms and working on Section 3 in April.
John and Marietta discuss starting out the day along the Blue Ridge Parkway MP 278.5. Notice Marietta's unique balancing act (or is she planning to slice her apple?)
One of the remaining challenges in Section 3 is this crossover blow down of two Oak Trees.
In the upper center of this photo you can see our trail which goes directly under the foreground tree and uprooting the trail ahead with the root ball.
Chris and Marietta consider the challenges of this problem to remove.
There is much light work to do. Here Marietta is removing the light twigs and small branches from the trail. After the sawyers and the swampers have removed the debris there remains finger size and smaller twigs to be raked out of the trail.
We want to leave the leaves :-) and only remove the ankle turners and toe trippers. NOTICE: Marietta is wearing eye protection! Even lifting and moving small twigs and branches can slap your glasses off or scratch your eyes. I recommend safety glasses for all trail work.
John follows behind the sawyers removing small limbs and laps that were missed.

This is a typical entanglement of pick up sticks.
The ice dropped and snapped and piled many layers of large limbs.
Each limb and pile must be methodically worked through before any branches can be removed because they are so terrifically intertwined.
Two of our sawyers are beginning to solve a small crossed pile of branches.
Gerry steps in to remove a limb from a larger fall before starting on the trunk. Thanks for all you help this month! Wild flowers are starting to bloom along our sections of the MST!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Let the Recovery Begin

The recovery from the winter storms damage begun in earnest last week.
Gerry has been a reliable sawyer for the initial forays into Section 1 of the Watauga MST
This is a typical noodle pile, or "pick up sticks" drop.
The chainsaw worker goes ahead and cuts the noodles into moveable pieces.
John has been the main assist crew worker for the first two work days.
The assist crew comes behind and picks up and removes all limbs from the trail.
It is an endless process of lifting, rolling, or tossing cut laps.
Every 10 to 15 feet there are pickup sticks to be cut and removed
After the larger limbs and branches are removed, this is what the foot tread typically reveals.
The next level of helping is to remove the "toe trippers" and "ankle turners" from the foot tread.
However, we do not want to remove all of the debris.
Debris that can easily be walked upon without tripping becomes duff or trail bed cover.
What would you pick up in this photo?
A days work and Gerry heads out. Thanks Gerry!
Gary is helping with pick up crew work. Notice he is wearing goggles. I recommend goggles even for pick up. If you are ever "face whipped" by a twig, you will wish you had had goggles on your eyes!
Sometimes entire tops fall an create many legged walkers.
They have to be selectively cut to figure out where the supporting limbs are embedded in the ground.
Sometimes it is hard to figure out the supporting branches so time and caution must be used in cutting.
Shelton whittles away at this walker to prepare it to roll out of the trail.
Even the sawyers have to move debris to get to debris to cut!
Gary steps in to remove the large debris from the trail bed.
But after clearing, it is a beautiful sight to recover the tread. Notice the debris is piled to the downside of the trail and when possible aligned parallel to the trail.
The placement of the debris helps reinforce the fill side of the trail and reduces the impulse to cut trail by hikers.
Piling on the inside of a switchback is the trick to blocking switchback cutting, a huge "no-no" on all trails!
Cut this switchback and you will get tangled knee deep in laps. On the positive side, it is sooooo easy to walk around the switchback now that it is cleared!
When you come to volunteer you will likely be working on recovery of trail that looks like this.
Pile your pick ups to the down side and use a leaf rake to flick the "Toe Trippers" and "Ankle Turners" off the trail. Do not remove the crushable debris. It will create duff and help prevent erosion.
The end of a 4 hour clearing and Gary says, "Hey Shelton, you forgot your saw!"  Thanks for your volunteerism Gary and Gerry and John and Shelton!