Thursday, March 24, 2011

BreakAway Day 15

Work continues on the section of North Chickamauga Gorge trail between the old open coal mine and ladder # 1. Some sections have been rerouted away from muddy areas and now skirt along the base of the bluff through large boulder fields. These reroutes should significantly enhance the hiking experience.

Lunch break under rock shelf

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

BreakAway Day 14

Today students were split into two groups. One group went to Little Soddy Historic Mining Area in Soddy Gorge off Hotwater Road to install signs that identify various areas of the long extinct mining operation. The second group returned to North Chickamauga Gorge and advanced into the second mile of trail where dramatic improvements to the trail are being made.

Bucket brigade relaying rocks up to trail

Monday, March 21, 2011

BreakAway Day 13

With trail construction complete at the back end of North Chickamauga Gorge, efforts are now focused on repairing and modifying trail near the trail head, particularly along the old coal mining road that provides the first mile of trail. Erosion in conjunction with constant drainage across the trail creates rough and muddy sections. Trail modifications and construction of water bars should help alleviate these problems.

Hard working college students from New York

Saturday, March 19, 2011

North Chick Survey

Today's hike into North Chickamauga Creek Gorge was not a pleasure hike but instead a working hike where we inspected the trail for needed repairs and modifications. Although we only hiked to Boston Branch Overlook which is 2 miles from trail head, more than enough work was found to fill the entire last week of Spring BreakAway which begins on Monday.

Slide show of Don's photos

View from Boston Branch Overlook

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hiking New Trail

Larry Cook, Caroline Woerner, Bob DeHart, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins hiked the new section of Cumberland Trail in North Chickamauga Gorge that was just completed yesterday. We collected GPS data and measured trail length with a measuring wheel. This section connects the Cain Creek segment which was completed last year to the Cooper Creek segment which was completed the previous year. The length of contiguous trail from North Chickamauga trail head kiosk to end of Cain Creek segment is now 7.2 miles.

Group photo on trail along Panther Branch

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

BreakAway Day 6

Today’s pace may have slowed slightly from yesterday. Workers were split into two groups. A large group worked the south end of this new segment toward Cain Creek and had few obstacles except for deep side hill cuts that required much digging. A smaller group worked the northern end of this new segment toward Cooper Creek and encountered numerous obstacles that slowed the pace considerably. However, this project can still easily be completed ahead of schedule.

Moving lots of dirt

Monday, March 7, 2011

BreakAway Day 5

Today’s group of 80+ students and many regular volunteers began work on the Cooper Creek end of this new segment and worked back toward the section constructed last week. This large group of workers combined with terrain that contained little vegetation and no rocks allowed a staggering amount of trail to be completed in just a few hours. A few more days like today and this trail could be completed well ahead of schedule.

Building trail

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Maintenance Hike

The goal of today’s maintenance hike from Heiss Mountain Road trail head to Big Possum Creek Bridge was to clean mildew from the bridge and remove a tree across the trail near the bridge. Cutting the tree the old fashion way with an axe proved much easier than cleaning the bridge. Although we removed a large amount of mildew from both wood and fiberglass components, there is still much to do but we will save it for a day when we have more brushes, water buckets, sprayers, and people.

Slide show of Don's photos

Group photo on Big Possum Creek Bridge

Friday, March 4, 2011

BreakAway Day 4

On day 4, less time was spent extending the trail and more effort was focused on tying up loose ends. One group hiked ahead and cleared the route for trail to be constructed in upcoming weeks. Another crew performed maintenance on trail that was constructed last year as well as building spur trails to overlooks along the previously constructed segment. The last group finished the trail segment that was not totally completed yesterday.

Hard at it

Thursday, March 3, 2011

BreakAway Day 3

With ideal weather continuing on day 3, a hard working crew completed a substantial amount of difficult trail construction through pine thickets and steep terrain. At day's end, we had reached open woods. Day 4 working conditions in open woods may permit progress to surpass what was obtained on previous days.

Freshly built trail

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

BreakAway Day 2

The combination of a larger crew and ideal weather provided the catalyst for significant progress on day 2. Rock steps and trail at Panther Branch were completed. A tough uphill section which passes through a Laurel thicket, required removal of numerous rocks, and also required a side hill cut before reaching a pine thicket on level ground was also completed. The distance to our Cooper Creek trail connection is slowly but surely decreasing.

Arriving at worksite

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

BreakAway Day 1

Day 1 got off to an excellent start with superb weather and an enthusiastic crew, comprised largely of college students from Michigan. After a short quarter mile hike to the work location, we split up into two groups. One group went to Panther Creek to work a section of trail across the creek that was not completed during last BreakAway. The second group hiked a short distance to trail's end and began extending the trail toward Cooper Creek. The day ended with some quality trail completed.

Lunch break