Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Green Hill Southwest ~ June 11

What a beautiful morning for trail building. How can one not love going to work with views like this?

We are beginning a new section of trail near Green Hill. We are working southwest near BRP MP 281.
This new trail segment will be a difficult and long process to develop. Passing through old growth forest and thickets of rhododendron slicks, this section is beautiful in its primitive state. I love the blossoms of mountain laurel on the forest floor.
Looking like snow on the ground.  I am always inspired to see images on the ground that reflect the images above. In an Escher-like context, looking up and looking down in the same image!
These laurels are amazing this week in June. They look like snow clumps clustered on the branches.
Trail work this week was done on two days, Thursday and Saturday. Members of the Ashe County task force and the Watauga Task force combined efforts to move forward.
There is some rock to be negotiated over and around in this stretch.
But largely it will be a process of removing rhododendron and cutting a foot tread.
Our volunteers all have their personal gear and back packs. Our packs reflect our trail personae.
Marietta works to clear a stretch.
Don is busy cutting the upper edge on the next stretch to be leveled. The first cut is made along the flags.
Once that cut is made the foot tread is leveled below.
Chris works to dig out a root in the trail.
John and Keith are busy setting up the "come along" to pull large rhodies out of the trail.
The come along is anchored to a tree and then cabled to the base of the rhododendron.
Through crank and pull the entire rhododendron is pulled out
root ball and all. This would take a digger perhaps an half hour to remove with a mattock.
John removes the cable and prepares to move forward to the next challenge.
A close up encounter with a newly removed rhodie!
Trails end for the day and time to return to the entry port~
I opened this post with reference to the amazing Mountain Laurel to be found in the section. These laurels are some of the biggest I have ever seen in these mountains. The trunk of this low growing shrub is nearly 10 inches in diameter.
The canopy of flowers is nearly 25 feet high. This is one mighty, MIGHTY Mountain Laurel!
Solomon's seal is in bloom this week along the parkway and trail. There is always something to discover in nature along the trail. One reason I got involved with MST trail building was to provide myself with more opportunity to immerse myself in nature. Every element is intimate when you are creating trail in an isolated wilderness area.
One of the finest moments experienced on this day was brought by this small woods thrush. Don had mentioned he heard a "Veery" thrush call on Thursday. He assured me if he heard it again he would get my attention.

Amid the hammering of trail tools and chatter of workers Don's most excellent ear caught the amazing call of the Veery. We never saw it, but the call is very distinctive. According to Don, this bird has a double larynx. This allows it to make a double note call. A descending triple trill. It is the most amazing sound. Click here to hear this wonderful bird calling.

Thanks Don! (I did not take the two bird photos above and do not know the photo credit to post)
Stepping out at our maintenance access point Chris hauls equipment.
Marietta and others follow. We worked hard, we enjoyed fellowship, immersed ourselves in nature, and built some mighty fine trail!
Thanks to our volunteers. See you on the trail again soon I hope.
This weeks volunteers were John, Chris, Marietta, Shelton, Don, Keith, and