One of the first trail crews I worked on was with the Appalachian Trail Conference’s Konnarock Crew. Since they were based out of the Mt. Rogers Work Center near Sugar Grove, VA, it was the perfect option to learn some of the basics of trail construction. My supervisor asked me to spend a week working with them in order to learn “from the experts”. During the first week of each season, the Konnarock Crew works on the AT within the MRNRA. During the week I spent with them, we did a substantial amount of tread rehabilitation and installed new log waterbars in the section just north of Damascus. It was a week filled with fun and memories and over the years, I would hear stories of people who volunteered their time with the Konnarock Crew, only to return year after year to experience the satisfaction of hard work and camaraderie.
After that week with Konnarock, I would go one to work with several other volunteer crews from the Sierra Club, and American Hiking Society. There were friendships made during those weeks that continue to this day. One of the greatest challenges came when I had the opportunity to lead my first crew. We would spend some time on a multi-use trail on the side of Iron Mountain. The trail had experienced severe erosion and was constantly muddy in one particular section. We installed a lateral drain with native timber, then hardened the trail with load after load of gravel. After a dozen years, it is still performing the job it was meant to-providing a durable surface for bicycle travel while moving water away from the trail itself.