VHTRC Work Party 2002February 9, 2002
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On February 9, 2002 the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club held its annual work party on the trails of the Lee Ranger District, George Washington National Forest. Twenty-two people came out for the event. We accomplished a great deal and had fun at the same time.
Last year, we were able to contribute to the dream of completing the Massanutten Trail loop when we built "Ed's Trail" that connected Moreland and Jawbone Gaps. This year, we did not build anything new, but we cleared almost 30 miles of trails that will make hiking and running much more pleasant for all users, not to mention tired runners at MMT.
We worked in four major groups. These groups were from south to north:
Bird Knob: Ed Demoney led a group that cleared from the Visitor's Center to and including the Bird Knob Trail. This section is always messy. Ed's report:
We worked as a group of six. That was a good way since we needed all six to move some of the logs we removed from the trail. We removed almost every log across the Massanutten South and Bird Know trails. We took on one large log that we should have left alone. We must have spent more than an hour on that log. But we got it done. Bob Coyne is very determined once he has started something. It was a great day, and we saw a couple of black vultures sitting at the lookout looking wistfully at all the poultry houses near New Market.
Route 211 to Gap Creek: Wil Kohlbrenner, who has built and maintained many of the trails in the Massanuttens, with Bill Van Antwerp and Tom Trask, went from Route 211 to Gap Creek. They cleared many down logs. (Wil has a Forest Service card allowing him to use a chain saw.) They went over some of the trail we had done extensive work on two years ago. Some of this trail was taken out of the MMT course last year, but is back in this year's course.
(Note: The Forest Service puts on training sessions for those wanting to be certified to use a chain saw. A chain saw is a very dangerous item in untrained hands. The next training session is March 16-17 in Edinburg. If you interested in more information, let Anstr know (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) and he will get you in touch with Wil.)
Kerns Mountain: Last year, we blazed the beautiful, but rugged trail over Kerns Mountain. This year, we went back to clear it. We broke into two groups and worked from each end. (There was some problem with this as the team from the north obviously had covered 3/4 of the trail when it met the laggards from the south!) For the most part, there were only a few down limbs across the trail. We cleared all of them but one. That one was too big to move and it's easy to step over. The group's greatest achievement, performed at the point where the two tribes were merged, was to cut through a mess of limbs that were totally blocking the trail. We took the easy way out and cut the ends of the limbs and rerouted the trail around the mess. Runners will now have to go at least two or three feet longer! As we left, we took every rock off the trail.
Short Mountain: It is appropriate that the VHTRC adopted the Massanutten Trail over Short Mountain. It is certainly the most beloved part of the MMT!! Russ Evans led a group to clear that trail. His report:
There were six of us working together and we worked on Short Mountain, as well as on Ed's Trail from the top of Jawbone Gap down to Moreland Gap. Bill Sublett, Mike Gholson, Ken Hubbard and John Deeter started from Moreland Gap. John headed up towards Jawbone to cover Ed's Trail. Bill, Mike, and Ken started North over Short Mountain. Gary Knipling and I started from Edinburg Gap and worked our way South on Short Mountain. We all got started on our respective tasks just a bit before 8:00 AM. We met up on the top of Short Mountain around 11:30. John Deeter caught up to us just as we were finishing up lunch, on his return from Ed's Trail. Gary, Mike, and I finished through to Moreland Gap, while Bill, Ken, and John finished through to Edinburg.
All-in-all, I must say that the Short Mountain Trail and Ed's Trail are in great shape. Both trails were obviously wider and significantly improved, both from our work and from what was apparently previous work by the PATC Massarock Crew. They do not seem to have that raw and new feeling anymore. Both are very nice trails with many runnable sections. Our work removing downed trees across the trail will really speed the runners through these sections at MMT this year. I doubt that you will hear many complaints about these sections.
Russ and his group then went for an evening run from Gap Creek to Woodstock. They went over the section from Edinburg Gap to Woodstock Gap. We had heard that this section was in poor shape, but we did not get anyone on it. Russ reported:
This section is in very bad disrepair. There were many, many downed trees. The blazes are very faded, and seemingly few and far between. We got off trail several times early on and stumbled around searching for where it continued. This section needs some significant work. I would also be prepared to have this section abundantly marked with ribbons and glowsticks in the race. The trail is just in such bad shape that the night runners coming through there will be extremely dependent on the course markings provided by Scotty's folks.
This year's work party was a month earlier than normal and we really tempted the weather gods. But we drew beautiful weather--great for that post work refreshment as a reward to a hard day's work. After the work, we repaired to Front Royal and the annual trip to Jalisco, the Mexican Restaurant. We decided that we needed to replace lost Vitamin C with lime juice. We found a source of lime juice in the Margaritas. Those of us who were still around, showed up for the Sunday run on Dickey Ridge.
Our once-a-year work party is not going to qualify us for sainthood, but we have been able to roll out a good crowd and clear a great deal of trail for the last few years. We cleared almost 30 miles of trail this time. We also had a lot of fun. The VHTRC, and every user of these trails, thank all of those who participated in this year's work.