Work Trip on the Appalachian Trail – June 27, 2019

The only time I dread doing trail work on my section is when it is time for the annual weed whacking in the Summer. Luckily for me I have a secret weapon without which I would not be able to do it anymore. That would be my faithful son Tyler. He helps me carry the heavy weed eater and shares the bulk of the very hard work that is required to use it. My section is very steep and very rugged. It is hard enough to hike it nevertheless weed eat it. I am very thankful that he helps me. He has been doing his entire life when he was barely old enough to even carry a small sling blade. I hope he continues to maintain the section after I am unable to or gone but, that is up to him. We got an early start before sunrise and watched it come up on the way there. It was going to be a hot day to be battling the Weed Orcs on the trail to Mordor.

white blaze
Sunrise at Food City as we left with our needed supplies
The mountains are calling so I must go !
The old gated forest road we use to access the trail

This time we opted to carry the weed eater to the top of the mountain and then work our way back down rather than the opposite of that like we did last year. This seemed to work out well although you end up just as tired at the end of the day no matter which method you use ! On our way up we met a nice couple section hiking North to Erwin. Little did we know we would be seeing them again later in the day under very different circumstances. The views from the overlook on the TN side of the summit of Little Bald were awesome as usual. I don`t know of many people that have such a view from their work office.

AT symbol
AT Rock. Not sure what the green plus is for
Having left the ferns for over 20 years by way of ‘selective cutting’ they have replaced the nasty weed growth that used to be here by choking it out. Hiking through ‘Eufernia’ is much more pleasant.
Taking our time climbing to the top of Little Bald. The new Stihl harness makes it much easier to carry the machine.
Tyler going through some waist high stinging nettle on our way up the mtn.
The sting weeds were head high in some places.
The view from the TN side of the Little Bald summit
Our view from the office on this day was outstanding !
View from the TN overlook on the summit of Little Bald

Tyler started weed eating his way down the mountain as I followed carrying the fuel and saws etc and lopping the encroaching growth off the high side. There was a lot of snipping and lopping to do this year which slowed me down more than Tyler. It was a long hard day. About half way down the mountain, just as we reached the top of the ‘upper relo’ we saw the guy we had met earlier coming back South towards us. Seems his lady friend had twisted her ankle rather badly and was unable to walk any considerable distance on it and was asking for our advice. There was no way she was going to make it the 12+ miles to Erwin. Even getting to the road at Spivey Gap before dark was out of the question so, I told him to take the rest of the day to very slowly get her down to Whistling Gap where we would meet them at later and I would drive them off the mountain to Erwin in my Jeep where they could call and get someone to pick them up. He returned to her and they did just that while Tyler and I kept working trail down the mountain.

Tyler starts cutting his way back down the mountain.
Tyler “cutting the mountain down” as legendary maintainer Sam Waddle used to say. (RIP Sam)
Tyler selectively cutting around the ferns. They were so big that many had to be trimmed but, we always leave enough to continue shading out the unwanted growth.
Tyler gettin` it done. It is a long and slow process to do this and it is hard on the body.
Tyler working hard on the steep back slope of the upper relo
trail work
Looking at back at all our hard work. I was slinging a sling blade for the tread way and lopping growth with snippers
Tyler making some dust as he gives the section a good hair cut. We only cut the high side to force the hikers up the hill to prevent damage to the fragile lower side. It is quite a long fall if you slip off that way on this section !!

A few hours later we did find them there at the gap where we showed them the side trail out to my Jeep and we provided them a hair raising ride off the mountain ! Going 4 wheeling with some crazy redneck hillbillies was definitely not in their plans but, they seemed genuinely thankful that we were there and provided the help for them and of course, we were more than happy to do it. The girl got in touch with some family and they were on their way to get them. It was another great day on the trail providing needed and much appreciated services to our fellow hiker trash family. Hopefully we will be able to do it all again next year ! Tyler and I are already looking forward to the next adventure. Until then,,,

The couple we helped out.

Posted on 17 December '19 by , under RATtreks.

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