Wednesday, July 3, 2013


We have had torrential rains off and on all day today. 
The water level at High Shoals Creek was at flash flood stage and high enough to prohibit safe crossing. 

In this shot as you approach the bridge it is clearly not a creek to wade across.
Compare the above photo to the one shown below.
Just two days ago one might have pondered what is the need for a bridge at this creek? 
See that tiny trickle underneath the bridge?
But looking north from the bridge that docile, inviting, rock hopping creek has become a raging torrent.
This high water view is the same as the one which follows.
The rock in the center, yes, the green moss covered boulder is completely submerged in the previous photo. The cave and falls below it are covered by current with a swirling torrent back swelling nearly 10 feet below.
I'm happy to say, no hiker will have to risk their life, or walk back the 2 miles to Aho because they could not cross High Shoals Creek in a storm!
Looking south from the bridge toward the falls one notes the falls are invisible.
Just take a closer look,
it's not that they aren't there, 
just lost behind the raging tumultuous onslaught of thousands of gallons of water per minute.
This docile little stream seemed inviting for wading just two days ago. The falls looked like a nice place to visit off trail. 
 From beneath the bridge you can see where our former crossing had been established.
 Exactly where the shadow of this bridge falls is the point of the ford and rock hopping crossing of many years past.
This video clip shot from beneath the bridge gives a good sense of the power and danger of the high water at this crossing.
All hikers should take warning, 
NEVER seek shelter under a bridge 
or in a culvert when there is a danger of high water 
and flash flooding. 
I am thankful we have a bridge that will last and provide safe, inspiring, crossing 
for everyone on the MST Watauga. It will always be a pleasant crossing~ ~ ~

A New Bridge over High Shoals Creek Completed in Watauga County

The culmination of a 6 year project 
has come to fruition. 
Hikers may now cross High Shoals Creek and stay High and Dry!
 Thanks to the hard work of  John Lanman, Task Force Coordinator and Project Manager for this bridge, the newest addition to the MST has been completed.
 This bridge was constructed by Larry Hampton and his crew, a local contractor whose work has been exemplar of quality construction, environmental sensitivity, and a prompt, timely work schedule
 With ease hikers, walkers, or runners of all ages and ability can now travel from the start of the MST in Watauga at the Deep Gap 421/BRP intersection all the way to Blowing Rock at the BRP/321 crossing without wading through creeks or cautiously rock hopping across High Shoals Creek.
John Lanman stands proud and steady upon this new bridge.
We are all appreciative of the major accomplishment this bridge represents for Watauga County, for Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail, for the Blue Ridge Parkway and our National Forest.
 Our sparkling new shiny bridge adds another jewel in the crown 
of High Country Trails in Watauga County.
(this photo by John Lanman)
 To the north of the bridge High Shoals Creek is viewed as it shoots through a falls and boulder cave on the way to Goshen Creek and the New River.
 To the north of the bridge a waterfall is viewed from the bridge offering one of the prettiest views along High Shoals Creek.

Now, come on out and hike the MST in Watauga County!

This creek and trail maintenance has been an ongoing project for the Watauga Task Force for the last 3 years. For additional images of our volunteers at work follow the link below.
High Shoals Creek Work

For complete detailing of construction of this bridge please visit the five previous blog posts.

MST Watauga High Shoals Bridge Completed!

This is it! The High Shoals Creek Crossing has been completed!
 Watauga Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail are excited to complete the construction and installation of a new bridge along our trail.
Six years in the making our bridge now spans 50 feet across a creek that is gentle or rages but always promised to get your boots wet!

After many efforts over the years to create a natural stepping stone crossing that would inevitably get washed out in a flooding torrent of high water
 Hikers, walkers, and runners are now able to clear the creek in without missing a step. Congratulations!

The following photos are for the bridge makers, engineers, construction geeks, and detail oriented readers.
The bridge is made of fiberglass pieces, bolts, concrete, stone, and wood.

For more information about the details visit the manufactures web page:

Complete with handrails
 supported by cantilever trusts and braces
this solid design is sturdy and safe.
Each part is bolted and braced into place and constructed on site one piece at a time.
The fiber glass parts are a low intensity green in color that blends naturally with the forest.
The abutment has wings to deflect severe high water and exposed concrete has been finished with stone for a natural aesthetic.
 Readers with an interest in the abutment forms and concrete pouring process can visit my previous blog posts for details on this process.
 An item of interest in the construction process was the creation the solid foot plate that the bridge beams would set upon.
 This detail shot identifies the perfect fit and connect with the cast in place bolts so perfectly built precisely to specs by Larry Hampton and his crew.
  The foot treads are treated 3 X 12 lumber that has been bolted in place and should last a lifetime.
 From the underside the adventurist can study the beams and cross bracing engineered into this design.
 The span of 50 feet has trusses ever 60 inches which support the foot tread and hand rails.
One can imagine many generations of children will explore underneath this bridge looking for trolls no doubt!

The approaching trail has been graded and steps up to true level with the bridge which sits clearly a minimum of four feet above water level and at times 6 feet high,
making for a gentle approach 
to a long awaited bridge across High Shoals Creek.

For a complete review of all stages of construction follow these links or return to the blog for construction parts 1-5.

High Shoals Bridge Arrives! Assembly Begins....Part 5~

This was an exciting day!  Unfortunately, I was out of town this week. All photos in this post were taken by John Lanman, Watauga Task Force Coordinator and project manager. Thanks for sharing John!

For sequential review, follow these links to previous posts related to the High Shoals Bridge construction project:

Our bridge arrived via flatbed transfer trailer.
The crew of Larry Hampton began the process of unloading from the Tractor Trailer and putting the bridge parts onto smaller trailers that could be maneuvered on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
This photo shows the foot tread boards being moved and hauled.
Every component of this bridge was pre-cut, pre-drilled, and pre-designed for easy construction in the wilderness area along High Shoals Creek.
The 50 foot beams were the longest single section to be transported on this 48 foot trailer bed.
These four parts were the biggest challenge and the first challenge to snake down to the construction site and install.
Sitting on the foot plate of the abutment the bridge begins to be assembled .
Looking across this skeleton of a bridge gives a good perspective to the width of the crossing.
a side view showing the braces to the handrails.

scaffolding was set up to support the beams until assembly was complete. All components serve to strengthen and secure the bridge.
Here is the last view before foot tread boards were installed.If you are interested in learning more about the bridge design follow this link. E T Techtonics... fiberglass pedestrian bridge

Next post.... Our completed bridge!