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Trail Condition S. of Rockfish Gap, Va.


I've been lurking on this list for quite some time, so an intro is
probably in order.  

I was introduced to the A.T. by the Va. Tech Outing Club while going to
school there.  They were heavily involved with the Konnarock Crew program,
so I ended up working two full summers on the crew -- one of the best
experiences I've ever had.  After finishing on crew in '88 I moved to
Harpers Ferry to work as ATC's first computer specialist and help them
enter the 20th century.  I enjoyed four years of living and working in HF,
but decide to marry and move to Ohio to continue my education in '92. 
Now, with a M.A. in geography I'm mapping seagrass in the Chesapeake Bay
at scenic Gloucester Point, Va.  My wife, Chris, and I frequently join
ODATC work trips and try to get on the Trail as often as possible. 

Now, on to the trip report:

I helped the Old Dominion A.T. Club spend a long day yesterday (9/14)
clearing blowdowns off the Trail south of Rockfish Gap in Va.  A crew of
six cleared 42 blowdowns in the 3 miles just south of the Gap.  There are
an additional 30 blowdowns remaining from that point to Mill Creek Shelter
and 20 more on the Trail back up to Humpback Rocks parking area.  I'm not
sure about the the section South of Humpback Rocks to the Parkway
crossing, but I expect it also has a large number of downed trees.  The
remaining stretch to Reeds Gap is fairly clear, probably because it's on
the western side of the ridge. 

Some of the areas were devastated and almost unrecognizable.  The 
hillside just south of the shelter that just two weeks ago was heavily 
wooded is now completely open, a tangle of trees on the ground with only a 
few little ones still standing.

The Trail is still open, but I'd advise going elsewhere until more of the
blowdowns are cleared.  We had a tough enough time getting through with
day packs and carrying chain saws.  It would be very slow going with a
full pack. 

It will take a lot more work to get the Trail open.  In several places 
the footpath has been ripped up by a large root mass and will have to be 
completely reconstructed.

Check out <http://www.vims.edu/~dwilcox/atfran.jpeg> to see me standing 
in front of one of the blowdowns.

I'd be interested to hear how the other sections in the area faired.  My 
guess is that I got just a hint of the sort of damage inflicted on SNP.

                                   - Dave

David J. Wilcox (dwilcox@vims.edu)      (804) 642-7088
GIS Programmer/Analyst                  Virginia Institute of Marine Science
SAV Mapping Project                     Gloucester Point, Virginia  USA