ATC Pilots 3-Day Crew with the Trail’s Longest-Running Trail Crew Program, Konnarock.
This was my second time working alongside a Konnarock crew. Once again it was nothing less than fulfilling. Not only was the Konnarock crew out there but, they were joined by a few of the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club members. This was the first year that a shorter crew commitment was offered, which breaks up the typical five-day session into two shorter segments. For the first three days the crew was joined by two Georgia High school students. The last two days the crew was joined by some members of the LatinX Hikers.
When I want to enjoy the outdoors, I often find myself on local trails around Atlanta and on a part of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in North Georgia. There are thirty-one trail maintaining clubs whose membership and volunteers are responsible for doing most of the day-to-day work of keeping the Trail open and accessible.
The stewardship of managing the Appalachian Trail involves about 6,000 volunteers giving 250,000 hours every year. Sometimes trail-improvement projects are too big for one club’s membership to handle.
Over the past years, a section of the trail near Gooch Gap was slowly becoming unsafe. Fortunately, members of the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club noticed this before it became impassable. The Trail needed to be relocated. After approval from the U.S. Forest Service, the club planned to recruit the help of the Konnarock Trail Crew.
Our task was to remove duff (a layer of dead plant litter) from the area where the new trail will be, while creating an angle for the water to run off to minimize erosion. The reason we have to dig up the duff is to get to that substantially more solid under-layer of soil. The work is rigorous. The feeling of accomplishment you get seeing a completed project you were a part of is truly worth it.
Khidhar McKenzie is an avid hiker from Stone Mountain, GA who loves the outdoors. He has been Involved with a few ATC projects since 2017, including the Conservation Trust for North Carolina internship with ATC, and ATC’s Conservation Leadership Corps since 2017.