Virginia Happy Trails Running Club
Trail Work Day
March 14, 1998
This is an edited version of the report filed with the Forest Service on the trail work performed by volunteers from the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club on March 14, in the Lee District of the George Washington National Forest.
Twenty-one people participated. After urging all to use proper safety measures, to wear long pants and eye protection and, take food and water, we broke into six teams.
All teams completed their assignments safely. No injuries or incidents occurred. Here is a report of each team's work and the trail conditions each team observed. Our work was primarily clearing brush. We did not use chain saws and were unable to remove trees with trunk diameters over a foot. We did, however, make all of the trails we cleared passable.
(Abbreviations: MMW = Massanutten Mountain West Trail; MME = Massanutten Mountain East Trail; MMS = Massanutten Mountain South Trail)
Team One. Bill Sublett led James and Rebecca Moore and Paul Walczak on the MMW trail from Edinburg Gap to Woodstock Tower. His report:
"We got all of our trail done from Edinburg Gap to Woodstock Tower. There was quite a bit to clear from Edinburg Gap to the rock overlook where we stopped on the last training run [about two miles north of Edinburg Gap]. After that it was not bad, as we expected. Most of the stuff we were able to clear out. Big trees on the ground that could easily be stepped over we didn't worry about. Those that were off the ground we cleared if we could. I would say there are probably 6-8 that were off the ground and we couldn't clear but it's not a problem to get over any of them. I don't think it's necessary for the Forest Service to make a special trip with a chain saw to clear any of those. However, there was one large tree with multiple branches across the trail that would be very nice if they could clear with a chain saw. It's within 2 miles of Edinburg Gap (between the spring and the top of the mountain). Also a couple of the trees that are off the ground are nearby and they could also be cleared. You can climb over the big one but it would be nice if they could clear it."
Team Two Frank Probst led Bill Wandel and Dennis Herr on the MMW trail from Edinburg Gap south to the crossing with FS 374. We had heard that the Forest Service had cleared this tail but we wanted to see if anything else needed to be done. The Forest Service had done an excellent job and the only thing needed was to fill in a few holes. The trail is in good shape but a portion in the middle of this section still needs to be blazed.
Team Three Jeanne Christie and Larry DeHof led JoAnn Scott and Scott Rafferty on the MMS trail from Route 211 to the first junction with the Bird Knob Trail. They cleared the trail and it is now passable. There are a couple or big blow downs about three quarters of the way up the hill south of the Visitors Center. (Probably easiest to get to these from the top (south).) The team cleared a path through these blow downs but it would be nice to take them out with a chain saw.
Team Four Joe Clapper led Robin and Michele Kane and Phil Young over the Waterfall Mountain Trail from Crisman Hollow Road to the MME trail. They then turned north on the MME trail and worked up to the Scothorn Gap trail where they went down to the Scothorn Gap parking area. We had done a lot of work on this section last year and did a lot more this time. The trails are passable but there are some large blow downs that we could not get. The worst are on the Waterfall Mountain Trail and the portion of the MME just north of there. It would probably be easiest to go in from Route 211 to get to these with chain saws.
Team Five Anstr Davidson led Margie Schlundt, Stan Duobinis, and Marty Szekeresh on the Gap Creek Trail from Crisman Hollow Road to the Duncan Hollow trail. The trail to the top of Peach Orchard Gap was clear. (It looks as if some had recently done some work on the section between the trail head and the Scothorn Gap Trail. On the section from Peach Orchard Gap to the Duncan Hollow Trail, there were many blow downs. We cleared all but four or five big ones that will need chain saws. All are passable. A couple, however, are elevated and will fall eventually. This team was also responsible for the Scothorn Gap Trail. That trail was clear.
Team Six Ed Demoney led Stephen Simmons and Kevin Sayers one several tasks. Here is Ed's report:
"We did Turkey Pen, hardly any work except for the first mile on less where there was quite a little. It looked like someone had been over the rest. We got through it in about an hour.In summary, we believe that we cleared all of the trail we set out to cover. As noted above, there are a few big, down trees that it would be nice to clear with a chain saw. We would hope that the Forest Service could clear some of then, but we would understand if the Service has higher priorities. Several of these down trees, however, are off the ground and hikers will likely walk under them. I assume that they pose some danger and should, eventually, be taken care of.
We also had a training run on the MMW trail from Woodstock Tower north to Powells Fort Camp. The first mile of this trail is in fine shape, but then there are many blow downs. This trail needs work. We assume that the PATC will be doing this in conjunction with its Dogwood hike. Most of the work needed would not require a chain saw.
A few of our volunteers are entered in running events which require volunteer maintenance work on trails as a condition of entry. I believe that Ed Demoney, as a member of the PATC, will be able to certify the work for these individuals. If that is not the case, I will send the necessary forms to you for signature. I believe, however, that will be unnecessary.
We appreciate the opportunity to work on the trails we use and love. While we will use these trails for our one hundred mile run in May, we were pleased that our work will contribute to the experience of all visitors to the Lee Ranger District. We thank you for the cooperation you have shown to us over the years and look forward to another work day soon.
Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any question. I will mail you a copy of this report and the Tailgate Work Sheet.
Here are reports from the trails after the work party weekend. These should help you have an idea of the trail conditions you can expect. Bill Sublett reports on a run on Sunday, March 22 on the MMT trail:
I just wanted to let ya'll know how the training run went today. We had a real good run. We had 8 people and one dog. Jeanne and Larry brought Massie the mountain dog who ran from Woodstock Tower to Elizabeth Furnace. Larry stopped there with Massie and the rest of us ran on to Skyline Ranch. Also running were Stan and Margie, Jean L. and her friend Larry, and Roger Allison.
Gary Knipling also reports on the north end of the course, but on the east, not the west side:
I have some news about another section of the MMT that you didn't comment on. On Thursday 3/12, I met my son Keith who drove up from Blacksburg at the Fish hatchery trail head going up to Buzzard's roost. We left one car there and drove to our cabin and hiked the MM trail east in a northerly direction. It was evident that someone had recently done chain saw work from the top of Indian Grave trail all the way to the top of the Crease trail. The trail was in GREAT condition. From the top of Crease to the fish hatchery we moved some limbs and brush by hand, but it was in good shape as well. Sorry I haven't made any of the recent training runs. I still owe you a six pack for the clearing near Woodstock tower bet. You got me !!