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[at-l] crew week trip report

Hello all, I hope everyone is well and happy. I got back from a week with
the Rocky Top crew on Sunday and I am playing catchup with my mail. It
may take a day or two.

The Rocky Top project area for this season is the section between
Davenport Gap and Mt Cammerer, which on the north end of the Smokeys.
There have been three work sessions so far if you count the session back
in June when the Rocking Horse crew were also working on this part. As I
understand it, that session was the first time many of the horse club
members had ever done trail work. They installed dozens of steps and
water bar during that week, no small taste!

We left base camp on Saturday, Sept 28 for the two hour drive to the Big
Creek Ranger station parking area. One hour of the trip was consumed just
getting through Gatlinburg. What a mess. As one person observed, "This
place is over run with the newly weds and the nearly deads." Not to be
out done by this sly and clever comment, another crew member noted that
she had not seen one single "civilian" walking around Gatlinburg that was
smiling. At that, I began to take notice and I'll be thumped if she
wasn't right. There were mobs and mobs of folks, walking to and fro, and
not a single, solitary one was to be found with a smile. Well, I looked
all about the inside of our van and none of us was smiling neither!! I
figure there is some sort of poison in the air in that town but more
research is needed to be sure.

Anyway, we survived the traffic and managed to get past all the frownly
folks and was soon unloading at the ranger station. By mid afternoon, we
had reopened the tent city in its stealth hiding place off the AT about a
half mile from where Cedar Creek Trail joins the AT. Next, we hiked up to
where the last crew had left off working and found the tool cache. We
didn't get much actual trail work done the first day, but that's how it
usually goes. All in all, it was a good beginning for a great week.

Sunday morning we were all up by 7 am and ready to get digging. By 8 we
had left camp and were making our way up hill to the job site. The
biggest part of the work that needed to be done was to install water
bars, remove many root tangle and do a little side hilling. On Sunday,
two folks from the Smokey Mt club came in to help fell some locus trees
from which we made the water bars. In a way, it is real sad to cut down
those beautiful trees, especially as they are such slow growers; but,
they are the most durable tree for use as water bars.

We were unable to secure any rebar so the cribbing that was planned for
our session will have to wait for another crew. We did manage to get all
the logs debarked and close by. Also, we collected a lot of stone to be
used as crush and fill for the cribs. By week's end, we had done rehab on
over half a mile of trail, including several dozen water bars and
diversion ditches.

One of the high lights of the week came on Friday when we began to see
SOBO hikers coming through. One of them, Flip-Flop, spent half the day
with us helping to work on the trail. I am completely sure of the sincere
gratitude of the other SOBOs, but it is especially nice when a hiker says
how much he appreciates our efforts and then drops his pack and asks if
he can help. His contribute was not without reward. We loaded him up with
food from our lunches so he didn't have to take a bite from his own pack.

The weather was unseasonable warm and the upland springs barely have been
able to keep pace with the shortage of rain. The spring at Davenport Gap
shelter is just a dribble. The little spring near the stealth camp is
dried up and the horse club had to pack in all the crew's water in 6
gallon cans. The little spring about half way up between the Gap and the
side trail to the fire tower has water but the little rock basin is
easily empties by dipping or pumping and it doesn't completely refill for
about an hour. We cleared the blue blaze trail and the area around the
spring so the trail is easy to see and there is easy access to the little
rock basin, however, we had no blue paint to mark the trail. There was
some run off crossing the AT up near the switch backs that are about 3/4
mile from the fire tower turn off near the top. I don't know how long
that will last. If anyone will be hiking this area in the near future, it
would be wise to get water at Davenport shelter before heading up. I have
no report on the spring at Cosby Knob shelter. Because NOBO hikers didn't
warn of a dry spring, I assume there is water there. Hopeful

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