|Session Two Crew|
Day One of the session saw the U.K.-hailing Essex Boys and Girls Club members – Lauren, Amber, Ellie, Luke, Callum, and Simon – their two expedition leaders, Graham and Juliet, a young man from Germany, Constantin, a 2015 thru-hiker from Ohio, Jan, and a young man from North Carolina who had hiked through the Smokies on the A.T., Logan, all hike up Snake Den Ridge Trail to the Rocky Top camp near Inadu Knob. With all of their hiking experience (the Essex group had hiked through the Smokies as well the week prior) the group tackled this challenge with ease.
The crew opened up camp for full operation once they arrived, putting tents up, replacing the bear fence battery, digging a new privy (a quite large one for the big group size), and getting dishware out for the ensuing dinner. With a total of thirteen people on crew, counting the two crew leaders, Rocky Top camp was abuzz with activity, a veritable hive of preparation.
Day 2: The crew began the work week with building two turnpikes – a raised walkway made of logs and rock in order to allow for traversal over poorly-draining, muddy areas. Each turnpike was over twenty feet long with over eight cubic feet of crush. After the first turnpike was done, crew members began working on waterbars and drains. The crew worked through intermittent rain and cool weather, but stayed warm by swinging picks and hammers.
Three volunteers with the Smoky Mountain Trail Riders brought up a food and propane resupply for the crew. A few crew volunteers took time during the afternoon to help unload and store the supplies at camp.
Later that day crew began the trend of playing the card game Werewolf each evening to pass the time. In their downtime, the crew also played charades and debated the pronunciation of certain words in the English vocabulary.
Day 3: The crew finished off the second turnpike and began in earnest to install more waterbars back towards camp. The crew worked on a number of log waterbars, worked on a stone waterbar and stone step where a natural seep was discovered, and towards the end of the day, began working south again towards Old Black. This second sweep of the 1.5-mile goal would include putting in log steps where large drop-offs occurred or where the trail was so badly cupped, the water had to be slowed down.
Day 4: Day Four saw the crew well into their new agenda of step-building, working steadily in the drier and warmer weather. A few of the crew began a rock cribbing and step project, adding in three rock steps and adding a number of new tiers to original cribbing below the trail to hold in all the crush and fill.
A few of the crew began another trend for this week – going out to the eastern face of Inadu Knob to watch the sunrise each clear morning. A mainstay hobby for Rocky Toppers over the last couple of years, this week’s sunrises offered vibrant colors over North Carolina.
Day 5 through Day 8: The crew continued to work on the rock crib project and on installing more wood steps towards Old Black. By the end of the work week, the crew had also began and finished a wood cribbing and step project in order to get over a number of rock fins protruding into the trail.
The European Crew finished with one of the strongest showings of total trail work ever done at Rocky Top.
A proper big thanks goes out to the Essex Boys and Girls Club – Graham, Juliet, Amber, Ellie, Lauren, Luke, Callum and Simon – and to Constantin, Jan, and Logan for one of the hungriest, most hilarious, and most industrial crews we’ve ever seen!
Rocky Top looks forward to welcoming the Essex group back again next year for more trail work. Stay classy!