By Jane Rice, Appalachian Trail Conservancy intern
Are you ready to learn new awesome trail building skills? Then the Konnarock volunteer trail crew is perfect for you. No prior experience is necessary, just a desire to help maintain the Appalachian Trail and bond with other volunteers from all around the country. Within the 120 mile stretch of the A.T. near Roanoke, Konnarock has constructed and repaired portions of the A.T. with the help of hundreds of volunteers, but there is always more work to be done. More steps to be added and trails to be widened. Konnarock volunteers learn the significance of trail maintenance out on the A.T., and all the hard work that goes into preserving the land for years to come. Konnarock runs from May 3rd to August 9th with each work week running over the weekend allowing individuals to take minimal work time off during the week. The Appalachian Trail receives around 2 – 3 million visitors every year, but without the hard work of trail volunteers that growing number wouldn’t be possible.
In 2016 the Konnarock Crew worked with the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club to continue a relocation of Sinking Creek Mountain. This section is one of the lesser – known gems in RATC’s amazing 120 mile section of the Appalachian Trail; so it’s hard to say no to an opportunity of giving back. Over the course of the week an incredible amount of progress was completed on this project. Areas such as this one that are in need of many hands and extra time are what Konnarock is all about. The new trail is being routed along boulder fields and leading to some heavy lifting and lots of teamwork. The work was technical and challenging making it the perfect job for a Konnarock trail crew. Standing just south of the relocation is the famous Keffer Oak tree. This tree stands at 300 feet tall with a circumference of 18 to 20 feet, the second largest on the Appalachian Trail. It’s hard to miss once you get there. This will truly be an amazing section of the Trail after the construction of the relocation.
Since 1983 the Konnarock Trail crew has continuously completed large scale conservation projects along the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain GA to Rockfish Gap in VA. Crews come in the night before their work week begins to go through an orientation, eat a hearty dinner, and get to know each other before they head into the bonding experience of a lifetime. Individuals of all ages and backgrounds come in to have a rewarding experience filled with sweat and laughter. Crews include AT thru – hikers, individuals who have never touched a pick mattock, and multi-year alumnus of Konnarock. The volunteers help speed up the duration of time a project would take compared to the Appalachian Trail Clubs working a few times a month. Once the crews depart for their work week, they will arrive at a remote site where they will be camping and have the advantage of car access. To take advantage of this fantastic opportunity you must be at least 18 years old and have a great pair of hiking boots.
Registration can be found on the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website or by contacting them at firstname.lastname@example.org and (540) – 904 – 4393
This year crews will be working on the Sinking Creek relocation again during the following weeks:
Week 4: May 27th – 31st
Week 9: July 12th – 16th
Week 10: 20th – 24th
All Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club members are welcome and encouraged to come out and join the fun!