by Alivia Acosta, ATC Volunteer Development Coordinator
Recent A.T. Club Achievements
Building a New Shelter at Rock Gap
On Friday, March 17 an official ribbon cutting ceremony took place at the new Rock Gap shelter. The previous shelter (pictured left) had served the hiking community for nearly 60 years and was in a condition that required replacement.
Months prior to the ribbon cutting, the Nantahala Hiking Club, the Oconaluftee Job Corps, and the United States Forest Service spent over 1,300 hours on this project with support from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
Beginning December 2022 and working around the cold weather, volunteers hauled in 6,000 pounds of concrete mix, 2,000 pounds of concrete blocks, and 2-tons of gravel, along with timbers and lumber over a quarter mile from the trailhead to the worksite.
Some of the timbers measured eighteen feet long and weighed over two-hundred pounds, presenting a significant challenge. Nevertheless. on Monday, February 20, volunteers and partners completed the construction of the new shelter (pictured left).
Poor Mountain Relocation Completion
In December, 2022, volunteers with the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club (GATC) completed a relocation of over one mile of the Appalachian Trail in Mark Trail Wilderness on Poor Mountain thanks to the help of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the United States Forest Service, and the American Conservation Experience. The previous path of the Trail followed the crest of a ridgeline which made it challenging to maintain because it was constantly being eroded by water due to its steep inclines. The new part of the Trail now follows the natural contour around Poor Mountain, so that the Trail can now exist on sidehills which allows for less of an incline and thus less erosion.
This relocation of the Appalachian Trail took over 6 years. GATC contributed over 998 volunteer hours on the Trail for this project (not including the hours spent planning for the project) and the American Conservation Experience corps members contributed roughly 1,790 hours of working on the Trail for this project. A challenge for this project included a two-mile hike with tools to even reach the starting point of the relocation. In addition to completing the relocation project, dozens of Club members were able to learn how to build sidehill tread and contribute to an improved section of the Appalachian Trail.
Improving the Groundhog Creek Shelter
Those visiting the Groundhog Creek Shelter in North Carolina will be pleased to find that the shelter received a new floor as well as a food storage box. The new floor of this nearly 85-year-old shelter offers a level sleeping surface instead of the warped floor that previously had people sliding into the center of the shelter overnight.
A persistent bear presence and attempts that bears have made to get food from visitors at the Groundhog Creek shelter led to a closure for several months last year. On February 10, 2023 the Carolina Mountain Club’s Friday Crew volunteers hauled a 355-pound bear box one third of a mile uphill to the Old Groundhog Creek Trail and then 100-feet beyond the shelter in accordance with directives given by the United States Forest Service Appalachian Ranger District. This bear box will now provide visitors with a means of securing their food and hopefully decrease the chances of human and bear interactions.
This bear box installation highlighted for the Club that, when installing a bear box, it is important to consider the size and shape of the box, whether it can be purchased in pieces and assembled at the installation site, how far the box needs to be moved, how steep (uphill or downhill) and rugged the terrain, and the appropriate number of people for the move and installation. With the lessons learned from this bear box installation the load will hopefully be lighter the next time around, but more hands will always make a lighter load. Please consider joining the effort and helping to install future bear boxes with the Carolina Mountain Club. Find their upcoming A.T. volunteer opportunities here: ATC Volunteer Opportunities (appalachiantrail.org)
Thanks to a generous donation there will be nine more bear boxes to install at campgrounds that are being cared for by the Carolina Mountain Club.
Share Your Club’s Achievements!
Please tell us about any recent projects that your club may have recently completed or is working on. We look forward to hopefully sharing these success stories via the Register as a means of shedding some light on the work that is performed by A.T. volunteers and provide helpful information to fellow volunteers who may be working on similar projects.
Send information about your project and any images if you have them to [email protected].