Happy New Year everyone!
I’m excited with what 2019 will bring as far as trail improvements and new trail projects on the Pisgah. The National Forest Foundation (NFF) has recently awarded TPC a grant to do maintenance this spring, bringing great improvements to some of our most used trails in the Forest – namely the Art Loeb, Exercise, and Estatoe Trails. We also have a number of trail projects we are looking to move forward with in the New Year, including the Cantrell Creek Trail Relocation.
As some of you may have guessed, the partial government shutdown is affecting our ability to continue progress on many of these projects. For one, we currently can’t collaborate with volunteers nor with the Forest Service to make progress on projects, nor begin work on new projects. TPC may be able to contract to accomplish trail work, though we will have to do so on a case-by-case basis. Unfortunately, local volunteer clubs also can’t do basic trail maintenance for the time being.
Partnering with the Forest Service and the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS), I went out for an overnight into Middle Prong Wilderness at the end of November. Our goal: to clear downed trees across Green Mountain Trail. There were four of us total, carrying pulaskis, handsaws, loppers, and a crosscut saw. Add winter camping gear on top of that, and it was a heavy load.
It was all worth it, though, as we cleared over ten problem areas where fallen trees had made it difficult to pass. Green Mountain Trail is a “Class 1 Trail” which is considered to be simply a “go-route” for hikers. Class 1 Trails require the minimum amount design parameters and therefore the minimum amount of corridor clearing and maintenance. Their ruggedness – especially inside designated Wilderness where things like motorized equipment aren’t allowed – is seen as a virtue. Generally a “less-is-more” approach to maintenance is key (check out the Forest Service’s Trail Management Objectives for more on trail class types).