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Trail work in the SNP



Yesterday, Sep 15, 1996, I met about 18 others at 7:30 am.  We formed
carpools to drive to the Northern District of the Shenandoah to clear the AT
from blowdowns caused by Hurricane Fran.  We met again at Elkwallow Wayside,
SNP, where trail overseer, Christopher Tate, divided us into four groups,
each led by a chainsaw operator.  He directed a comment to Jim & Ginny Owen,
so I walked over and introduced myself as an AT-L member.  I seem to remember
being introduced to another member of this list, but I can't remember the
name for the life of me.  If you're reading this, please write and let me
know.

Our chainsaw operator would make the cuts necessary to clear the trail, and
the rest of us would remove the logs & debris well off to the side.   The
first section of the day, from Elkwallow to Beahms Gap,  had numerous
blowdowns, but Chris had told us that the second section would be the most
difficult.  Our group moved smoothly along, but after about an hour we began
to have chainsaw problems.  I became very adept at retrieving the maintenance
kit and handing the various instruments to Frank, the chainsaw man.  I felt
like a surgical nurse.  I even began to call Frank “Doctor”!  Though I’m
still not “chainsaw certified”, I feel like I could pass a chainsaw field
maintenance test, if required.

We continued on, clearing one blowdown and having to work on the saw at the
next.  At one point we moved right into a swarm of bees, and by the time we
finally cleared the area and moved on, I figured I had about 10-12 stings!  I
checked when I got home, and counted 16 stings on my arms, throat and chest.
 Fortunately I have never shown an allergic reaction to bee stings and I had
no problems the rest of the day except for the intermittent pain of the
stings.

True to Chris’ prediction, we found the second section  from Beahms Gap to a
little beyond Pass Mtn to be much more difficult.  At one point almost all
the crews were within sight of each other and you could hear chainsaws in
every direction.  The blowdowns were of such magnitude that it was usually
necessary to clear four to six trees which had falled together.  It is sad to
have to cut up what was a perfectly healthy tree.  

By 5:10 pm Chris came to tell us that work was over for the day.  On the way
back to the road we passed several thru hikers who were happy to have a clear
trail ahead.  One of them, “Chunker”  began May15 at Katahdin and hoped to be
home in the South for Thanksgiving dinner.

Although it was disaster which brought us to the park, the rewards were
great.  We had the park all to ourselves.  We saw many deer, including a
buck, and  a couple of wild turkeys.  The silence of the forest, when it
wasn’t broken by the sound of chainsaws, was sweet indeed, and the weather
was as perfect as it could get.   And finally, my muscles aren’t sore from
all the manual labor, nor is my brain tired from the tension of the multiple
surgeries, I mean, repairs.

Marty Manzano