Logger Picture  

TRAIL MAINTENANCE

by John Quinlan

2008 Maintenance Hours  Click on link to view 2008 Trail Maintenance Hours and Awards

2009 Maintenance Hours  Click on link to view 2009 Trail Maintenance Hours and Awards

Report Trail Issue     Click on link to report an issue on a trail we maintain

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"Thursday 1 October 09:  We saw 13 MHH volunteers come to conduct trail maintenance on various segments of the Fires Creek area trails.. A great turnout for which I am very appreciative. The weather was simply spectacular.  And, of course it is very gratifying to see so many well motivated folks. After the safety briefing and courtesy of the Tusquittee Range District we had more than enough PPE to properly outfit everyone. Having this good folks allows me to form multiple groups; in this case three separate teams.
 
Team #1 headed by Richard Sullivan along with 5 additional members (Ginny Smith (a brand new helper), Dave Richardson, Steve Jersey, Bob Stone, and Rod Whitefield).  Richard had the most members with the right mix of skills to take on the longest section of the day. They started working from the Bristol Horse Camp up Bristol Cabin Trail to Carver Gap (Rim Trail). On this section they encountered the greatest water challenges of the day as some of our prior work needed repair after the recent heavy rains to fix water bars and realign water drain points. At Carver Gap they emplaced two of the needed trail markers; once again courtesy of  Bill Champion of the Forest Service. The they proceeded West and along the way were gratified to see the section of trail that MHH rerouted last year was holding very well despite some horse traffic that is not authorized on this section of the Rim.  At the point where the trail turns Northerly down to the FS road they noted a new concern; evidence of ATV traffic apparently coming in from the Fires Creek Cove subdivision.  Here they placed a heavy tree barrier that required considerable effort. Amazing enough they encountered problems with overgrowth or deterioration since our last visit earlier this year.  This team covered the miles in a rapid time reaching the Leatherwood picnic area not long after the other two teams arrived. Seems like all it took was "a few good men" (and one new woman) to get through the longest stretch so fast.
 
Team #2 headed by Bob Lehoullier and two other volunteers (Don Chesbro and Jake Erhardt). This team worked their way from the Rim Trail at the northernmost crossing of FS 6176 down to the Leatherwood picnic area also. Actually all routes were planned so that each of the three teams would rendezvous back at the Leatherwood picnic area. This team was short a chain saw (currently under repair at the Tusquittee Range Station from which it was borrowed. I had hoped there would not be too much heavy work on this section as this part had been worked recently and thus has the fewest team members. As luck would have this almost happened though Bob reports that he did encountered two trees to deal with that will have to be deferred until a later trip. Once again with so many great helpers the equipment requirement goes up. Nonetheless the team accomplished the job in a splendid fashion and other than the bypassed trees had nothing they could not handle with the hand tools and on brush.
 
Team #3 (Composed of Jean Caputa-what a trooper at 81 years young!!! (Better  yet she has been actively doing so for many years), Tom Shope, Gary Thompson, and John Quinlan) rode up FS 6176 to the intersection of the end of the Huskins Branch Trails. We had had a report of a large tree blocking the trail and 'armed" with a chain saw, brushcutter, Swedish axe, and lopper we began to clear debris and fallen trees and  branches across the trail. This began with the obscured trail sign covered with vines and overgrown vegetation. While expecting one large tree we actually encountered 10!! Half of these were significant; some so large as to require multiple cuts to allow safe removal from the treadway. Fortunately we have learned to be prepared so extra fuel, bar chain oil, and tools (yes we had to retighten the bar chain once) had been carried with us. This then later met the other two groups at the picnic area.
 
Once the teams arrived we had multiple and, I must say, spectacular treats awaiting us. Along with the now expected cold drinks, Pam Sullivan brought TWO delicious cakes she and Francine Quinlan had baked!! How cool is that! I am worried we are setting too high a bar for refreshments as all of us would encourage them to continue to do so. Well that cannot always happen but it sure was enjoyed by each one of us-some indulged in two pieces and fortunately with two cakes all who so desired could be accommodated. Thank you ladies!
 
All in all a lot of ground covered (8.6 miles of trails) and made "Open, Blazed, and Safe" thanks to these three teams. Way to go!
 
Lesson learned this day was we all needed to due our best to educate, inform the public as to the proper use of these trails. We and the Forest Service go to a lot of effort to do our best to keep these trails open for the enjoyment of all. There is a place for each type user but it is incumbent on these same users to be respectful of each other. Signage for example can help but some individual responsibility is in order."

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Thursday, Sept 17th: 
" Despite a foreboding forecast we nonetheless had a total of six "brave" and well motivated MHH volunteers turn out this date to help improve the trails in Cooper's Creek, GA.  At the meeting point in Young Harris it was raining but I had seen a forecast that promised a break for a few hours and so off we went. We met other volunteers in Blairsville, proceeded to Copper's Creek, checked in with the campground host, divided into two 3 person teams, coordinated with the Army Rangers in the area, equipped each team, gave a saftey brief especially noting the possibility of falling trees and limbs due to the soft ground, and then headed out. We  worked a portion of the Yellow Mountain Trail , and all of the Shope Gap, Connector and Mill Shoals trails. A good bit of vegetation clearing using a powered brushcutter and manual sling blade. The rest was mainly lopper and axe work.  The two teams met each other on the Connector Trail and continued through their assigned sections and later met up to enjoy some well deserved cold drinks. Work accomplished included removing a lot of fallen branches and debris as well as much of the new summer growth of vegetation that had encroached into the trails. Overall the trails were in pretty good shape with no evident water damage from the recent rains. Amazing enough, despite up to a 70% chance of rain, we covered all of the area without getting wet; except for moisture falling from the trees. Somehow we managed to "thread that rain needle"; not to mention that we very lucky too. The only section not covered was a portion of the Yellow Mountain trail from Addis Gap to the Shope Gap intersection.
Again I am so pleased and humbled with the continuing dedication of these fine folks. Everyone in MHH should be proud of this hardworking maintenance team that accomplishes so much for so little reward.
 
Participants were:
Tom Shope
Jim Morgan
Ralph Aanensen
Bob Stone
Dave Richardson
John Quinlan"
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Thursday, Sept 10th: 
"Today a few good volunteers decided to finish some unfinished business. After last Thursdays maintenance work on Chunky Gal, there was a short section (1.3 miles) that was not brush cut and, having run short of fuel, not fully cleared by a chain saw. It is truly remarkable, and again I am humbled by these folks, who so eagerly want to get back and "finish the job". Finish the job we did!  Special thanks to Jim Morgan for being the chauffer of the day. The four of us rode in his truck to Glade Gap and he took us up on the rough, grass FS road to the lower stairs, dropped us off and drove back to Glade then grabbed a brushcutter and came up hill toward us, working all the way! The three of us (Richard "Chainsaw" Sullivan, Steve Jersey and John Quinlan) worked our way down the trail to Glade. This fast crew finished early enough to allow me to suggest yet another short job-this time in GA on the High Shoals Trail. I had received a report that a large tree was down on High Shoals and blocking passage as it lay across the trail. It was located approx 1/2 mile down the trail. We investigated this and found the info to be totally correct. In short order we cleaned up that mess and returned (via Jim's truck again) back to Hayesville. Amazingly enough we managed to get all this accomplished in time to be back in Hayesville for lunch; and lunch we did at the Cottage Deli. Good comardarerie prevailed and we enthusiastically talked about future "chores" to tackle.
 
When I began the challenge of coordinating trail maintenance it was with some specific goals in mind and, with the great help of so many wonderfull MHH volunteers, have been able not only to accomplish these goals but to realize that in the process I have been so personally warmed and blessed by their friendship. Thanks to all."

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"Thursday, 3 Sep 09 saw 14 MHH volunteers come to conduct trail maintenance on the Chunky Gal Trail. A fabulous turnout for which I am very appreciative and thankful. It was another really great day. Started with very supportive weather and well motivated folks. Given the number of workers we formed into three separate teams.
Team #1 headed by Richard Sullivan along with 5 members (Virgina Lane, Greg Lane, Don Chesbro, Jake, Erhart, and Jacob Dorn) started working South from Perry Gap. Thanks to Bill Champion of the Forest Service they had two trail identifying signs to place which then marked the trail number and designated uses. They carried a chainsaw, brushcutter and a variety of hand tools as they worked their way to Boetler Peak (Shooting Creek Bald). It was slower going than expected due to the almost continous brushcutting required. They reached the Bald in sub teams and then enjoyed the view. Afterward they worked down to the upper stairs where Steve drove them back down to Glade to rendezvous with the other teams.
 
Team #2 headed by David Richardson and three other volunteers (Bob Stone, Steve Jersey, and Ralph Aanensen) started by placing a vehicle at Tusquittee Gap and then drove around to begin the actual work from Perry Gap. They then worked their way North to Tusquittee Gap. David carried the chain saw and divided up the others to share in the use of the new brush cutter and alternate with the other hand tools. Once again the amount of growth since our last time (early March) through this stretch was a bit more than one might expect. After reaching they too drove back to Glade Gap.
 
Team #3 (Composed of Jim Morgan, Tom Shope, Steve Sutherlin, and John Quinlan) rode with Steve Sutherlin in his "big white diesel truck" on the FS road close within 1/3 mile  to Boetler Peak. Steve repositioned his truck back at the upper stairs South of the Bald and then walked in to rejoin us. This team used a chain saw, two Swedish axes, and a lopper to clear debris and fallen tree braches from the access path to the top of the Bald. At the top we cleared much more of an opening than we had last year at the original opening and additionally cut down a whole lot of heavy growth and debris to open a second area looking back North. Now visitors can see all the way to Nantahala Lake and enjoy an outstanding view. This team, minus Steve,  then completed the remainder of the trek down to Glade with some chainsawing and other hand tools.
 
At Glade all enjoyed the cold refreshments provide courtesy of MHH.
 
All in all a tremendous amount of work accomplished, and mileage covered, by your club. If the total mileage were added it would come to 9.2!  As a result this may have been one of the greatest distances (tied with one day in Fires Creek) worked in a single day. A  phenomenal amount of ground covered thanks to your volunteers! We are blessed to have such a dedicated group of trail workers and I, personally, am extremely grateful."

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Thursday, 20 August "We saw six hardy MHH volunteers conduct trail maintenance in GA. The trails worked were Helton Creek Falls and DeSoto Falls. We began with Helton Creek and soon encountered a number of water drainage problems. We cleaned out, and in some cases created, drains to alleviate some of the flooded sections of trail and did minor lopping on overhanging vegetation. As some of the steps (wooden boxed rectangles) were also flooded we found some gravel and improvised a carrying method to transport this gravel down to the lower steps and filled these boxes thus forcing the water out and thereby eliminating some muddy stepping inside the rectangles. We also scraped off slimy mud that had been borne by water to the middle of the trail. By this action we eliminated much muddy walking that was formerly on the trail. What we thought would be a very short stop turned out to be a more substantial effort.
We then headed to DeSoto Falls. Shortly after arriving, we met three campers who advised of fallen limbs blocking the trail and another tree leaning perilously over the trail. Fortunately Tom Shope, the equipment maintenance and caretaker guru, brought a chain saw and together with a hand saw and loppers we made short work of these problems. Once again we ran into more water problems; much of which David Kuykendall of the FS had asked us to address. This became really hard work as we used Pulaskis and fire rakes to dig out and shovel mud from the trail. What we noted was that water borne mud that had oozed down hill and filled water runoffs thus allowing water to run right over the bars and continue down the trail creating very wet and sometimes muddy conditions. This then became the major effort of the day and due to high humidity we soon were soaked. As wet as we were we almost did not mind the rain which then blew in. After a short respite and a cold drink, we then finished up by going to the lower falls lopping at the lower end along the creek and then more mud removal in water bars further up the trail as we moved toward the falls.
As expected all that "pick and Shovel" work was fatiguing especially in that humidity. The good news was that each person really pitched in and worked hard and by rotating equipment around the entire crew we kept our work productivity at high level. O special note is that despite the hard often muddy work this crew was in high spirits the whole day. Once again I am humbled by these wonderful volunteers, their work ethic, and superior attitude! Amazing what "a few good men" can accomplish.
Special mention too should be made of the excellent hospitality afforded to us by the two campground hosts at DeSoto Falls.
Your MHH volunteers this day were:
Tom Shope
Rod Whitefield
Don Chesbro
Bob Stone
Brian Blue
John Quinlan
If you should see any of them please thank them for the hard and continuing work that they do so willingly; and do come join us!"
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AUGUST 6th:   "Wow, what a day we MHHer's had in the Fires Creek area this day. Another WOW is that we had a huge turnout of 18 fantastic folks coming together for a common goal. This 18 person team garnered a new record setting total of hours volunteered in a single day!! Record breaking is getting to be the order of the day. To be fair while MHH had a great showing of 14 folks tying most of our records, we had the pleasure of being augmented by four additional folks. Three came from the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition, and drove over from Chattanooga, and one (Brent Walker) from the North Carolina Wilderness Society, and he drove from Asheville. All 4 of these visitors were very impressed with the Mountain High Hikers Trail Maintenance program.  These organizations and MHH work together to achieve common goals. Indeed our President, Bob, is now on the board of SEFTC (SouthEastern Foot Trails coalition). You may recall that it is these organizations who wrote the grant that ultimately allowed for a grant of $5000 for the maintenance of Fires Cree trail system.

With so many wonderfully motivated folks I was able to create three separate teams to cover areas of recent developed problems of tree blowdowns and brush overgrowth.
 
Team #1 was the largest team composed of our four guests and supplemented by four MHHers. This team was led by Bob Lehoullier who was joined by Bobbi, Rod Whitefield and Jim Morgan plus our four guests, Jeff Hunter and his daughter Martha and Hugh Irvin and Brent Martin.  The team went up Far Bald Springs Trail with Jim Morgan and Jeff Hunter (SAFC) on the brushcutters, Bob with the chainsaw, and the remaining with hands tools. Brush cutting and lopping were the principal activity. Once on the Rim, Bob subdivided his team in an East and West team. The West team worked their way to Potrock Bald while the East team worked back to Shinbone Ridge Trail and here Bob did much of his chainsawing while the others lopped. All retuned back down Far Bald Springs Trail. This team of eight logged the most hours!
 
Team #2 was led by Richard Sullivan abled supplemented by Dave Richardson (both chain saw qualified), Don Chesbro, Steve Jersey, and Brian Blue. This team got working even before they got on a trail! . Enroute to prepositioning vehicles on Little Fires Creek Road they encountered another very large tree across the road. So with an early start on his chainsawing, Richard had his hands full early on. (A lesson we might all heed is that traveling on some of these back country FS road obstacles may be encountered. This can be especially true on those gated FS roads that see seldom use but for which the MHH maintenance has access.) The team went up Bristol Cabin Trail to the Rim and then East  to exit at Cold Springs Gap over our somewhat unique escape route to their prepositioned vehicles. Enroute Richard and his team cut numerous minor tree blowdowns and then worked their way to very large set of blowdowns of which we were aware. As always this talented group accomplished their mission.
 
Team #3 was led by your humble maintenance chief, John Quinlan, who was most capably augmented by our maintenance equipment-in-chief, Tom Shope, and John's neighbors, and now new minted MHHers, Jim and Doris Pigneri and Doris's sister Barbara Hardy. For our part it was mainly brush overgrowth, some lopping, and a few blowdowns but none larger than 6-8 inckes in diameter. Jim handled the brushcutting chores, John the chainsawing, Tom our Swedish axe man (the axe name not Tom's)chopped through many branches, and the two sisters carried fuel and repair equipment and loppers too. This section, from the upper FS 6176 back down to Leatherwood Falls has been affected by an FS burn a couple of years ago that opened up the forest floor to more sunlight thus allowing much low grass and tall weed growth as well as killing some trees; ergo more blowdowns to come and a lot of saw work in the future.
 
When the day ended all had accomplished a good deal and, while understandably tired, were proud of their accomplishments. As always for me I am happy that all got home safely! Cold drinks were provided at the conclusion and available within each of the three teams. 
 
So a special thank you from MHH and yours truly for coming out and accomplishing so much good in the name of our club."

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JULY TRAIL MAINTENANCE:  The Trail Maintenance Plan for July 2009 will begin on Thursday 2 July. This date will see us working in NC on the Chunky Gal Trail; with likely two related groups (as always depending on the number of volunteers available). Group one would be going from Bob Allison campground to the "big buckeye tree" and return to eliminate some tree blow downs and some shrubbery growth. The second group would be going from Tusquittee Gap to Bob Allison campground for a distance of 4 miles.  16 July will see us working in GA on the Miller Trek and possibly the High Shoals trails. Hope you can join us!

AUGUST 6TH--We plan to work as many as three different sections in Fires Creek on 6 August-as always depending on the number of volunteers coming out that day. One crew will go from FS 6176 (upper road crossing) down to Leatherwood Falls; a second , especially if you have a crew, to work Far Bald Springs-the trail and not just as an access and likely a third, to eliminate some heavy new blow downs on the South Rim East of Julie High Top.

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Monday, 20 Jul 09, saw a small three-person team of MHHers who are fully chain saw qualified and composed of some of our most experienced trail maintainers take to the Chunky Gal Trail to finish a segment. This stretch from Tusquittee Gap south toward Tate Gap saw very heavy overgrowth since our last visit and required extensive brush cutting, courtesy of Dave Richardson. Steve Sutherlin and John Quinlan saw to the required a moderate level of chain sawing cutting but including one specialized piece of creative sawing that made good use of several plunge cuts taught to us by one of the very best-Terry Dickey, now retired, of the USFS (Tusquittee Ranger District). This resulted in a log step thru which was cut in such a way as to prevent the remaining log on the steep upper slope to be blocked thus preventing its falling/sliding down slope. We finished by ensuring a blocking piece to keep a hikers boot from slipping off the log and some crosscutting on the log's flat surface for additional boot traction as well.

All in all a good productive day with as always the highlight of accomplishing all of this safely!  With this section completed your MHHers have now been thru 20 of the 22 miles of Chunky Gal during 2009; making this portion 'open, blazed, and safe'."

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Thursday the 16th of July began very overcast, indeed having rained just a few hours earlier with the threat of more to come. But as it turned out nine of the intrepid MHH trail volunteers came to Mary Ann's Restaurant ready to give it their best. Once again I am very pleased and grateful for their dedication to this effort that we see as meaningful and really accomplishing something worthwhile.

 
Per what is getting to be our usual "modus operandi," we formed into two separate teams, dividing the equipment based on the anticipated requirements of each segment.
 
Team One was headed by our fearless Marine (Bob Stone) commanding a "few good men"; more specifically two men, one young lad of fifteen, and one lady. The names of Bob's team were Jim and Doris Pigneri and special guest Nick Miller. They worked on the High Shoals trail in GA; cleaning out numerous water runoffs, some hand sawing, and lopper work. As always on this trail the waterfalls are a spectacular sight. They finished up after logging in five hours each.
 
Team Two had a singular mission to clear one major tree blow down on the Miller Trek in Young Harris. While this work was limited to only one area, the size of the timber was huge; nearly two feet in diameter with large trunk branches ranging from 6 to 12 inches each. Richard Sullivan (Chainsaw Guru) and John Quinlan (Humble Leader) were the two chain saw qualified crew members who did the cutting. They were more than ably assisted by a great timber clearing effort by Rod (Can and DOES DO everything) Whitefield, Ralph (Lopper Man ) Aanensen, and Tom (Mr. Pulaski and Trail Equipment/Fuel Manager) Shope. Mission accomplished and trail open! This team concluded in four hours.
 
Thanks to both teams for "getting the job done" and most importantly getting each person home safely. Our luck held too, as we received nary a drop of rain; so thanks to all for taking the chance to come out.

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Thursday, 2 July, once again saw an incredible number of motivated trail maintenance volunteers. Fourteen MHHers participated; the second highest number ever-only exceed by the turnout for celebration of National Trails Day. I am likely known as a bit verbose but I confess that I am running out of superlatives to describe these fantastic folks. The commitment, dedication, and spirit is just superb! And I am not taking about one or two but each one! Each individual brings his or her talent along with a spectacular attitude. Each is more than willing to do what is asked and their whole attitude is simply "over the top". Thanks to one and all.

Work wise, this day saw these 14 tackle various sections of the Chunky Gal Trail.
We divided into three teams.
 
Richard "Chainsaw" Sullivan led team one, a "few good men" Bob Stone (our Marine makes me say that; anything for a few bucks Bob), Larry Zarefoss (who is to lead his future hike here), and Gary (Moon Hike Guru) Thompson from Bob Allison Campground North to the "Big Buckeye Tree"; then returning to assist another team coming from Tusquittee Gap.
 
Dave (Engineer) Richardson led our second team composed of Jack (Surveyor) Dugger, Bobbi LeHoullier (Newflash Editor and Publicity Chairperson-see recent articles in the local papers), and Darlene (Super Worker) Rothenay. This team departed from Tusquittee Gap and traveled South in the direction of Tate Gap with the goal of finishing up a section from a 5 March 09 trip. Dave also promised me that, since he envisioned getting back before I did, he would ensure the vehicles were taken back to meet us at Bob Allison thus avoiding a long shuttle; and then come up my way to meet and help us (Third team). Now let's talk dedication and the lengths Dave will go to keep his promise. After working hard South and uphill he realized that time was running out so he elected to complete his team's mission by himself!!  And sent his three teammates back to help as he had said he would earlier that morning. All I can say is WOW!  Mission accomplished and promises kept to assist others. Thanks Dave!!! This man gets the "Dedication Award" for the day; what a trooper and colleague.
 
The third team Bob (Chainsaw Swat) LeHoullier, Rod (Brush cutter Strongman) Whitefield, Steve (Geocache Searcher) Jersey, Jean (Most Trail Knowledgeable) Caputa, Tom (Mr. Pulaski and now Chief Equipment maintenance Coordinator) Shope, and John (Humble Leader) Quinlan left Tusquittee Gap and went North for the "longest distance award" to Bob Allison Campground. Steve Jersey also brought his own brush cutter to supplement our equipment. Thank you Steve-it was a great help. This team was admirably assisted by the three from Dave's team and Richard's crew as they formed a combined group to come up South From Bob Allison to help the third team. In this effort Richard cut the biggest fallen tree of the day; great job as usual from Richard.
 
I want to single out Tom Shope for taking on the task as the Coordinator of Equipment Maintenance Activity. Thank you very much, Tom!
 
As it turned out each team, while on different sections of Chunky Gal, did the same type work: cutting out blow downs, lopping much overgrowth, and brush cutting the vegetation encroaching into the tread way. Thank you to each; you all worked very hard, covering over 7 miles of trail and the best news is that all arrived back safely. I am proud of each one!"

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Today June 25th was an amazing day. First it was MHH's occasion to celebrate National Trails Day in conjunction with the Blue Ridge Ranger District and second, it was a truly impressive MHH turnout of helpers. A new record for attendance was achieved by our club. A phenomenal number of 18 club members came to help in today's effort on the Wagon Train Trail. Simply terrific. Whatever the cause I am very appreciative. In addition we had two folks from the Ranger District, David Kuykendall and his young helper Matt. I can say, without any fear of equivocation, that each person worked very hard. Frankly I am pooped. With so many wonderful volunteers and planning to work in a Wilderness area, we split up into two teams using manual tools (no power equipment permitted). Dave Richardson and Bob LeHoullier, starting at the top, led a team composed of  Jack Dugger, Rod Whitefield, Bob Stone, Jerry Carnes, Bobbi LeHoullier, Darlene Rothenay, and Wayne Hamilton. This crew worked with sling blades, loppers, a pulaski, and fire rake. They cleared much vegetation overgrowth and traveled the longest distance covering the entire trail as they worked down to meet the second team of Steve Sutherlin, Wayne Mack, Brad Herala, Don Chesebro, Jim Pigneri, Doris Pigneri, Tom Shope, Richard Sullivan, and John Quinlan. This team armed with four fire rakes, four pulaskis, and handsaw and loppers took on a somewhat different challenge. The goal of the second team was to open new drainage opportunities and concurrently create more trail interest and variety by slightly rerouting the trail. This was a hard digging sort of task that was embraced heartily by all; including our Ranger District team. In the end we opened or improved up 18 of these drains and trail modifications. In the process, David Kuykendall was good enough to teach several interesting concepts, which to most of our team were new.

We were all glad to reach our vehicles; each person having worked very hard in warm weather and as always, the best news was that all made it safely. Once down we enjoyed cold drinks and a special cake ordered for us by Pam Sullivan. Richard brought the cake and kept it cold in a cooler in his truck. Rod took a picture of the decorated cake in honor of National Trails Day and I hope it comes out in sufficient detail so that all can see the hiker decorations and colors. Good job Pam and Richard!. Special thanks is in order for the drivers of three personal trucks (Richard , Steve, and John) who took on the very rough "road" from the college to the beginning of the Wilderness area. Once again my hat is off to each one of these fine folks for coming to work and enjoy this special event.

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Thursday, 18 June, saw twelve trail maintenance volunteers work in the Fires Creek area. This is simply amazing - 12 sincere, hardworking folks came on what was an add-on day for the month of June! Time after time I am "blown away" by their unselfish hard work and dedicated commitment to trail work in fulfillment of our club by-laws. Not only that but since this trip had advance details about the challenges to be met, these fine folks came anyway! (most of them knowing how difficult the terrain would be!).  I am very thankful and proud of each one!!
Since we were blessed with 12, we split up into two groups. David Richardson and Steve Sutherlin, as two of our most experienced trail maintainers (both chain saw qualified) led Don Chesebro, Rod Whitefield, and Wayne Mack down many miles of back (Forest Service) road to reach the base of the Shinbone Ridge Trail. From there they began an arduous trek toward the Rim (1.8 miles distant). Now a reader should note that this trail (recently traveled by Richard Sullivan, Pam Sullivan, Dave Richardson, and John Quinlan) was fading into being non-existent; thickly covered with all sort of vegetation and many limbs and heavy tree blow downs. They worked really hard as they traveled upward. "Pause."
The second team (Richard Sullivan, Bob LeHoullier, Bob Stone, Jim Morgan, two of John Quinlan's neighbors (Jim and Doris Pigneri-who were cautioned by John about what they were getting themselves into), and John  Q went to the absolute end of FS Road 340C where they began one "Helleva Climb" up a "path" used by the maintenance team to reach another portion of the Rim trail. "This "access", which may be the shortest but steepest way to reach the Rim, had been scouted in advance. Once on the Rim we proceeded East through much growth and more blow downs past Weatherman Bald en route to an area known as County Corners (where Macon, Cherokee, and Clay counties intersect). In a short few feet (75) we arrived at the the top of Shinbone Ridge. Three went further East on the Rim for a short while and then rejoined the others traveling down Shinbone to meet the first team. "Pause"
When we linked up with the first team, we were absolutely amazed at how much Dave, Steve, and this team had accomplished! This five some had turned a nearly unrecognizable path into a first class trail which is to be used for an upcoming hike in the next quarter. Great job guys. Special thanks to Rod, Don, and Steve for driving their vehicles all this way over some pretty rough FS roads.

 

This day turned out great for a lot of reasons; starting with the safe return of each person back to Leatherwood picnic site; then to enjoy some well deserved cold drinks. It was a most productive day and I know future hikers will appreciate these folks hard work.

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Thursday 4 June saw nine intrepid MHH volunteers conduct trail maintenance in Fires Creek. These nine dared to come in spite of dire weather predictions for rain. Yes. I am impressed indeed with their dedication to our endeavor. There were a "few good men" (eight actually) and one good woman. After positioning two vehicles at our planned exit, we began by cleaning up Bristol Cabin Trail (Richard Sullivan taking out limbs in just a few feet after starting) in route to the Rim and finishing that portion of the Rim applicable to Jim Morgan's hike planned for the 23rd of June. We climbed up a good portion of the way making much use our loppers (4 at a time; three named here are as Jack Dugger, Steve Jersey, and Pam Sullivan) to clear heavy brush crowding into the trail, two brush cutters carried by hardy volunteers (Jim Morgan, Bob Stone, Don Chesebro, and Tom Shope). Continuing east four climbed the steep Julie High Top while I sent five on an exploratory mission of cleaning out what I assumed to be a route that by-passes the steepest section of Julie High Top. We also marked this separately as a by-pass while ensuring that the main Rim portion was also clearly identified-thanks to Pam Sullivan for supporting this endeavor with blazes not too mention carrying spare fuel/oil too. The by-pass turned out great as it was almost level and luckily for me did rejoin the Rim as I really hate to have folks get lost on my guesswork. (Not to worry as I did have a back up plan to re-collect them but gratefully did not need it).  This scouting expedition actually passed a sign humorously identifying Tennessee and Tellico. Just about lunchtime the rain caught up with us. Fortunately we were well over halfway to our exit point. We finally left the Rim at Cold Springs Gap and the "fun" really began. On Memorial Day Monday four of us had scouted a rough exit from this Gap. While we all made safely out we encountered much growth and, with it now raining, it was extremely slippery heading down a steep route-but hardly a good trail/path. This way could be used for emergencies or maintenance but little else. Richard "worked his butt off" on this stretch displaying his usual skill with the chain saw along with Jack Dugger and I attempting to clear debris and, most challenging, just remaining upright on the slippery terrain. I was very happy and relieved to see the others join us having followed this just opened "path" safely- a real tribute to their surefootedness. Afterward we were treated to cold drinks and a delicious rum cake courtesy of Pam. All in all quite a day. Once again I am humbled by the spirit and dedication of these hardy volunteers. As someone said "You couldn't pay me enough to do this".  The best part is that despite the rain not a single person had their spirits dampened! What an amazing team!!!"  Everyone in MHH should be justifiably proud of the work all of these fellow club members accomplish!

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Another add-on day trail maintenance for an especially dedicated group of trail maintenance volunteers from MHH. Today was the last in a series of intensive work days in the month of May. We've worked especially hard (and often) this month to attempt to get a head start on some overgrown trails before the weather gets too warm. Another point is that areas in which we have recently worked have been allowed to deteriorate over a period of some 5-6 years. These areas are some of the most remote sections of Fires Creek. Only recently have they been scheduled for our members to hike and, as such, we have worked exceptionally hard to get them in shape before the scheduled hike to ensure they are "open, blazed, and safe" for our members.  This are locales are some of the most beautiful, wild, and scenic stretches within range of our club hikes.

My hat is off to these fine folks who work very hard (and braved some tough climbs and rainy weather) to keep these trails open for you (and others) to use. Special note of thanks to Pam Sullivan for the delicious chocolate covered pretzels balls. We needed the salt and just what can a "chocoholic" say about having such a delight. Richard: Give that woman a raise! 
Today saw use of the full range of equipment from our limited club's resources; two chains saws (one just repaired) and three brush cutters (one also just repaired), hand saw, axe, loppers, and five(!) spare fuel bottles. Using two teams  going in different directions we covered over 11 miles!!!  All did an amazing job under adverse conditions and yet when finished, while understandably tired, seemed undeterred in this worthwhile, continuing mission. I am truly blessed in being in their company and immensely thankful for their hard work. The names of these fine contributors are enumerated below:
 
Bob LeHoullier
Bob Stone
Rod Whitefield
Jim Morgan
Jeff Hunter- a guest from the SE Foot Trails Coalition who wrote the $5000 grant for Fires Creek trail maintenance.
Richard Sullivan
Pam Sullivan
Dave Richardson
John Quinlan
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Memorial Day (25 May) saw a small team of four MHHers embark on a trial reconnaissance mission in preparation for a planned work trip this Thursday, 28 May, weather permitting. The goal was to investigate whether there was another suitable access point to/from the Rim Trail (South side) in Fires Creek that would shorten the day's project and allow for an easier day for our volunteers. In the process we knew in advance that we needed to clear some blow downs on the road (FS 340B) portion of Trail Route (TR) 386 in the Fires Creek basin. The clearing of this road would also facilitate work by an Endangered Species person that we had earlier encountered in this area. While we did accomplish the mission of clearing the road and locating a possible access, the steep terrain encountered renders this as an rough exit only and not really suitable for a two-way flow. I wish to personally thank these fine folks for giving up a portion of their Memorial Day holiday, indeed made more poignant in that three of them were veterans.   Special thanks to Pam Sullivan for the delicious cookies that we all enjoyed afterward.  Those making this trip were:

Bob LeHoullier
Richard Sullivan
Jim Morgan
John Quinlan
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On 19 May a small group of three folks linked up to conduct a trail reconnaissance in an effort to plan for future maintenance work trips. We covered 12 miles of tough terrain, doing some blazing and minor lopping. Though that was done, the goal was to figure what equipment was required where and how to best access the Rim to accomplish those objectives. It appears those objectives were met and we may have even ascertained a new Rim access point that will break up a very long section and help to keep our maintenance trips more reasonable in length and duration. This will require some further coord and investigation. As part of this effort we had an opportunity to pre-hike another section of the Rim with and for the hike leader-Jim Morgan. This section has not been hiked by the club as a schedued hike before and should prove to be an interesting "Rim Challenge" trip in June.

The three intrepid souls conducting this effort were:
Richard Sullivan
Jim Morgan
John Quinlan

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21 May saw another fine day by the MHH Trail Maintenance team. Actually I need to say teams. We were blessed with nine good folks who split up into a GA team working Wagon train trail from the top at Brasstown Bald and a second team who went back to Fires Creek to work the Leatherwood access trail.

The primary focus was a GA trail day so beginning with Wagon Train trail our first team:
Wes Clonts
Regina Clonts
Guy Burger
Dave Richardson
Bobbi LeHoullier----Began their trek down with the primary objective being to study, evaluate, and generate suggestions as to optimum methods by which to reduce standing water on the trail after rainfall. This objective was very well met with Dave (who as a multi-faced engineer with one specialty being erosion control) taking photos of the critical areas needing attention, marking GPS coordinates, and developing recommendations which we will share with the FS (David Kuykendall) to see what can be done in a declared "Wilderness Area". As part of this effort the team also creating water ditches with which to channel water off the trail. After some 1.5 to 2 miles, this team split into two sub teams with three returning back to the top and two more pressing forward to Young Harris College trail terminus inYoung Harris.
Bobbi had her special piece of equipment called a two and one-half pound pick-matic.  Using this tool really helped get water off the trail as well as help move rocks. They also used a fire rake and did some lopping. When Wes, Regina and Bobbi were hiking back up to the parking lot, they ran into several hikers who expressed appreciation for our work. 
 
As a side note, this area is the likely focus of our effort in the support of National Trails Day this year coming on 6 June.  It would be wonderful to secure a large turnout of MHH volunteers on that special day. Might even see your picture in the paper!!  Hope to see many of you there. We had a super day last year.
 
Our second team:
Richard Sullivan
Bob LeHoullier
Rod Whitefield
Tom Shope: also excelled with them seeing more of the really heavy duty, grunt work. The Fires Creek "SWAT" team saw Bob and Richard on the
chainsaw, Rod on the brush cutter, and Tom with the loppers. They made fast work of the section of trail between the upper and lower road (FS 6176) crossings on the west side of the Rim trail.  Amazingly, (just think as this is the third outing this year on this same stretch of trail) they cut out at least 12 blow downs, improved the vista view in one area, and brushed out the trail well. We can certainly hope that  it should be in good shape for the next few months.  The team worked hard and as Richard said "all deserve a round of applause".
 
Anyone wondering where was our fearless Trail Director, John Quinlan? Well on Tues. during the 12 miles maintenance reconnaissance trek in Fires Creek he injured his heel when the inside of his boot broke up. Thus his role was limited to planning and ensuring tools were prepared and delivered to the teams and let not forget the arduous task of writing the trip report heavily plagiarizing, where possible, the very helpful input from Bobbi and Richard!
 

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On Thursday, 14 May, eight dedicated volunteers from our club worked at least 8.5 hours on the Chunky Gal trail from the AT to Glade Gap. This was a postponed trip planned in March. The Tusquittee Ranger District once again came through with great logistical support. They met us in Hayesville and with truck, trailer, and two Kubotas loaded aboard we traveled to a closed FS road and used their equipment to drive approx half-way and "Kubota-ed" the rest of the trip up to the Chunky Gal trailhead at the AT. We started (of course with the low hanging clouds and some light rain).  With our intrepid group such inconveniences were overlooked and we began our trek. Shortly the rain stopped and we cleared the trail approx one mile; there we installed a trail sign signifying a very sharp turn, (150 degree), back to the right that has been missed by many hikers. On the way to Glade Gap Richard Sullivan handled many tree sawing chores with only occasional assistance from Steve Sutherlin and John Quinlan (the three chain saw qualified folks on this trip). Pam Sulivan was a excellent worker, always nearby to do the necessay blazing and provide support to equipment in the form of files and wrenches. No I did not call her a wench!! She is such a great asset, a willing helper, and possessed of a superb attitude. This statement is bribery of course as her presence ensure cookies or other treats; much enjoyed by all! Each of the others, Don Chesebro, Steve Sutherlin, Bob Stone, Tom Shope, and Steve Jersey were truely key as they carried the brush cutters and did much/most of the heavy continuing work. If any piece of equipment was used the most, it was the hard working brush cutter. We started with with full equipment tanks and four extra containers of spare fuel and one bottle of bar chain oil and you'd be correct in assuming we used it all! These five guys were just spectacular!

 

I cannot thank these absolutely wonderful people for all that they do. Everyone on this particular trip has accomplished trail maintenance before, and I am so gratified they they continue to return to accomplish our club charter for trail work as enunciated in our club by-laws.
Hats of to a very fine group and, as Bob Stone might say, it was done by "a few good men" and woman."
 

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MAY TRAIL MAINTENANCE DAYS--14 May Thursday in North Carolina; meet at Ingles in Hayesville at 0745 to go to the Chunky Gal trail in conjunction with the FS                                                                                                                                                                                                                                and be driven by FS to the trail head. Work from the AT to Glade Gap (Hwy 64). Install sign made by Larry Zarefoss and clear trail with loppers, handsaw, brushcutters (two) and perhaps one chain saw. Approx 5.1 miles on foot, traversing our newly rebuilt stairs. If a large number of folks attend we may work another section of the "Gal" too.

 
21 May Thursday in Georgia; meet at Mary ann's Restaurant in Young Harris at 0745 to go to Brasstown Bald and work both the Jack's Gap trail down to hwy 180 and work/survey section of the Wagon Train. One goal is to examine what can be done to alleviate the standing water on the trail after heavy rain. Remainder of the trail in good shape thanks to a recent report from Guy Burger.
 
28 May Thursday in NC; meet at Ingles. Multiple actions at Fires Creek: a section or two (staffing permitting) of the Rim in Fires Creek; perhaps survey for re-routing a section of the Rock House Creek Trail. Also time and staff permitting a large tree blowdown on the Bristol Cabin Trail if not covered earlier. A couple of us may pre-hike and trail survey Jim Morgan's June hike.
 
As you can see we are not lacking for things/challenges to accomplish! Hope to see you there and thanks for all of your great assistance!!
 
John Quinlan

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Well, what do you know!  We MHHers came together on 23 April to once again take advantage of the cooler temperatures before the summer heat begins in earnest. Can you believe we had 12 !!! wonderful hard working folks come to help out in the Fires Creek area; specifically on the Rim Trail working from Big Stamp both easterly and westerly. While we had gone east before we needed to return to get those thorny briar weeds off the trail and so 3 folks used one of our brush cutters to great advantage. Rod Whitefield, Gary Thompson, and Don Chesborough made up this east team. Of course even getting to Big Stamp is a job in itself! The FS "road" is narrow with nice drop-offs, rocky in places, and even worse, complete with deep mud holes!  Thanks to Don Chesborough, Jack Dugger, and John Quinlan for handling the driving chores and getting their vehicles VERY muddy! So although we left Ingles at 0800 we did not get to really start working until close to approx 0945. It was a good, clear day, if a bit on the warm side (yes, I encountered a snake right on the trail too!). In order for the west bound team to have vehicles at the end (5.7 miles on FS 6176), Bob LeHoullier and Tom Shope each drove their vehicles through the normally locked FS gate to FS 6176 and began their arduous steep climb NE to intersect the west team made up of Richard Sullivan, Pam Sullivan, Bobbi LeHoullier! (on her first maintenace work day since her unfortunate accident), Jack Dugger, Steve Jersey, John Quinlan, and special guest John Ray (the author of the Fires Creek Rim Trail and Chunky Gal trail guide or perhaps equally well known as the "Orange Book").  It was a real treat to have John with this group. He also carried a new trail sign for the Phillips Ridge Trail which was installed. The west team also carried a chain saw (or better said, Richard carried this saw and did ALL the cutting; no mean feat as there were a large number of huge trees blown across the trail. He gets the award for losing the most weight on this day-admittedly a dubious distinction as that meant he worked VERY hard!

 

Also to be singled out for the "Patience and Forbearance Award" is Gary Thompson who waited hours for us to get back and worried his fair share of sweat about why we were taking so long! Thanks Gary!   The "Gutting it Out Award" goes to Bobbi for "grinning and bearing" it for a long day on the trail as she continues her recovery.  Kudos and thank you to ALL really as it was a hard work day for each participant.  Once again I have been more than blessed to have such a wonderful team of highly motivated volunteers!

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April 16th was a great day for your MHH trail maintenance team! First a new record turnout of trail work volunteers, fourteen!!; truly remarkable. We were blessed with great folks (some for the first time!), glorious weather, roaring water falls, and this hard charging group of well-motivated MHHers.

 
As we had hoped, and due to the great turnout, we were able to spilt up into two teams. 8 went to Desoto Falls under Richard Sullivan's great leadership. Work accomplished: They cleaned out many drainage areas to allow water to properly drain and not gather on the trail; so many of these are box or enclosed drains that require a long rod to be inserted to clean out build-up. This team also painted blazes (the FS mandated lime green color). They also reworked and cleaned out a number of standard water bars. 

 

The second team went to High Shoals and did much the same type work by cleaning out drainage areas, some minor lopping, and of course painting the famous lime green blazes. Overall this trail has fared well with no major problems encountered.
 
Later in the day Richard and Bob (must be an officer thing) ventured forth to the Miller Trek for even more work with the chain saw! I am very fortunate to have such officers demonstrate their commitment to our Trail Maintenance Program by their own sweat equity; thanks guys!
 
Both teams ended this relatively easy day early as we had advertised.  Please join me in thanking the following:
 
Richard Sullivan 
Bob LeHoullier
Jim Cardinal-a new first timer
Lynn Cardinal-another first timer 
Bob Stone
Rod Whitefield
Wes Clonts-
Regina Clonts-another first timer  
Jim Reynolds
Kirsi Cohen-first timer
Gary Thompson
Ben Kennedy
Steve Jersey                                                                                                                                                                                                                  John Quinlan

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Thursday 9 April was a special project day for your trail maintenance team.  While we may not have traveled far, we can say we worked hard. The project involved repairing a set of stairs on the Chunky Gal Trail, south of Glade Gap in the direction of the AT.  From Glade Gap we made several trips up a steep climb bringing a large variety of tools (McLeod, Pulaski, fire rake, chain saw, hand saw, gas powered heavy drill [courtesy of the Forest Service], battery powered drill, bolts, nails, screw, rebar, wrenches, ratchets, and sockets, etc.).  As if this "stuff" weren't enough, we carried the materials the Forest Service provided; lumber of various sizes including up to 14' feet long as well as 6x6s, 4x4s,and 2x12s. Well you get the idea. Suffice to say, it was a lot of hauling. Now the interesting part, while of late I've been blessed with many folks showing up to do trail work, this time we had only four folks; four VERY hard working folks indeed! In addition to the stairs work, we emplaced several more steps and created some water bars to channel water off the trail and the stairs too. We also cut a few fallen trees off the trail.  Rod Whitefield not only worked but had a camera and so we do have some pictures to share (see 2009 Photos page).

 
The following were the four hardy workers who pulled this project together and helped to make this section of trail a more safe passage:
Rod Whitefield
Steve Jersey
Richard Sullivan
John Quinlan
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April 2nd dawned with the prospect of one more rainy day (the last trail work day was also cancelled due to adverse weather).  Notwithstanding this prospect, eight of the wonderful MHH volunteers came together to work in the Fires Creek area.  We divided into two teams. Richard Sullivan, Jack Dugger, and Rod Whitefield concentrated on the area below FS 6176 enroute down to Leatherwood Falls.  With the shortest segment of trail, it turns out they had, by far, the biggest job with the smaller number of helpers. They cut through some very heavy blow downs and heavy associated brush using the chainsaw, fire rake and loppers and worked their way down to the picnic area. A very big job as it turned out. The irony is that this section had been cleared only some 60 days ago. Clearly this is one of our most "needy " areas requiring a series of maintenance sessions throughout the year.  This team had better luck with the weather. The other team of five had great plans to cover some 5.2 miles on the eastern end of the Rim Trail (Far Bald Springs Trail, Shinbone Ridge Trail and also some actual Rim Trail). Well, those plans were thwarted by a tough climb up Far Bald Springs (cleaned up some minor level of debris and thorny brush), a very small section of Rim, and then we encountered a bit of a triple whammy in the form of rain, fast dropping temperatures, and blustery winds on the top of the ridge.  We decided to call a halt and retracted our steps back off the Rim and called it a day.  Please join me in thanking these fine stalwarts for working hard and taking a chance on the weather.

 
Richard Sullivan
Jack Dugger
Rod Whitefield
Bob LeHoullier
Steve Jersey-friend of John Quinlan
Jim Morgan
Dave Richardson
John Quinlan

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19 March 2009 was another spectacular day for the MHH trail maintenance effort. A record tying number of helpers showed up with an eager attitude to help our club meet its charter of maintaining trails. Once again we had 12 folks contribute to this day's success. We worked the Cooper's Creek series of four different trails. We divided into four teams each of which did much painting of the lime green blazes in accordance with the guidance specified by the USFS. Each of our four teams cleaned up some minor level of debris with the exception of some moderate chain saw work (by Vice-President Richard Sullivan) on the east end of the Yellow Mountain Trail. Special thanks to Arty and Gene and Arty Hodgson's son for their timely input of advance information to alert us of this chain saw requirement. Both of them deserve our hearty thanks for their continuing work on this series of trails and affording me of timely information regarding additional resources required. Each team reported that they had a good time, and the fact that we were able to complete the entire network of trails in one day was due only to the fact that 12 folks came and worked so hard. The four trails are the aforementioned Yellow Mountain Trail, the Shope Gap Trail, the Cooper Creek Connector Trail, and the Mill Shoals Trail.

 

Bob LeHoullier and I recently attended a meeting of the Tri-County Equine Association and invited them to see what it is that we do on trail maintenance. One of their officers, Paula Wtloe, joined us and learned a good deal while working with us and we too benefited from her assistance. The following is a list of those who contributed to the day's success:
 
Bob Stone (a newcomer)
Bob LeHoullier
Steve Jersey (friend of John Quinlan)
Don Chesebro (a new club member)
Rod Whitefield
Richard Sullivan
Pam Sullivan
Guy Burger
Gene Hodgson
Arty Hodgson
Paula Wtloe
John Quinlan
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Thursday, 5 March, saw 11 wonderful trail maintenance volunteers from our MHH club who worked on the Chunky Gal trail. Blessed with that number of great folks, we divided into two teams.

 
Dave Richardson agreed to lead the first team from Perry Gap northward to Tate Gap. In his company we had Tom Shope, Jack Dugger, Roland Hardee, and Gary Thompson. With hand tools, a chain saw, and brush cutter, they went forth and accomplished far more than I expected. With a super crew I am learning to expect nothing less and of course led by Dave he charged forth going beyond the planned turnaround point and continued for another mile plus, almost reaching Tusquittee Gap! A great effort by a great crew.
 
Steve Sutherlin and Richard Sullivan took their trucks through one of the normally locked Forest Service gates (yes, we had a key!) near Glade Gap and drove a very unimproved "road" to the starting point, thus saving a lot of unnecessary walking. From there, those two drivers were joined by Jim Morgan, Larry Zarefoss, Steve Jersey (friend of JQ), and John Quinlan. This group then traveled to Perry Gap, stopping to clear the trail (including a goodly amount of chain sawing and brush cutting) and going to Boetler Peak enroute. On the spur trail we repainted the orange blazes to ensure trail clarity.
 
Special thanks to our drivers that day: Dave Richardson, Roland Hardee, Richard Sullivan, and Steve Sutherlin and his most valuable "trail-blazing truck". What would we do without Steve or is it really his truck?? Truth is both are so very welcome and prized for their contributions!!
 
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Thursday, 26 Feb 09, was a special unscheduled maintenance work day. It was "special," alright!!  The day began at the Cottage Deli in Hayesville as 8!! super congenial folks gathered for a fabulous breakfast. We gorged ourselves at the buffet and then the baker came out with some delicious hot cinnamon rolls; and most of us found some place to further stuff them in; egad! What a kickoff to a work day. Then we picked up another person at Ingles and then three!!! more at Fires Creek picnic area!  "Holy Moly"!!! Now we had a team of 12 wonderfully motivated MHH volunteers. As I said recently, "I am truly blessed and honored to have such great folks who are so altruistically committed to the goals of our club."

 

With our work gear distributed, we split up into two teams of six each. One team began their strenuous effort at the end of FS Road 340C (the most easterly portion of the Rim basin) and proceeded due north to intersect the Rim Trail. This informal route had been previously marked as a short, but steep, access to the Rim by other volunteers (Jim Morgan, Dave Richardson, and John Quinlan).  FYI; this is one of the shortest ways (approx .5 mile) to the Rim using open easily driven and not gated roads and the .5 mile steep foot travel.  That team then proceeded west to Big Stamp and used the two vehicles placed there by the other team. The second team drove to Big Stamp (not recommended due to rocky  and badly rutted, muddy sections) and proceeded east 4.5 miles to the steep access used by the first team. Along the way on the Rim we placed many blazes as there were long, unmarked sections of pathway. We used all sorts of cutting tools to clear the trail ranging from loppers, hand saws, axes, and one chain saw. Much was accomplished, and yet another go at this area will be necessary to reduce the number of thorny vines adjacent to the trail.

 

My hats off to such a dedicated hardworking group!  A personal thank you to each of them.  Their names are listed below:

 
Richard Sullivan
Pam Sullivan
Steve Sutherlin
Rod Whitefield
Doug Reid 
Frank Ensenat
Bob LeHoullier
Phyllis Loman
Dave Richardson
Jack Dugger
Jim Morgan
John Quinlan
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On a cold and windy Thursday four dedicated MHH volunteers ( Richard Sullivan, Rod Whitefield, Bob LeHoullier, and John Quinlan) traveled to the Miller Trek trail in Young Harris and, although we did some minor branch lopping and a little handsaw work, most of the work involved performing the requested re-painting of blazes with lime green paint; they were ready for it. Overall the trail is in pretty good shape, except for two large trees at the top that lay across the trail.  Sounds like another trip with the chain saw.

 
Looking ahead to March the plan is to go back to Cooper's Creek to redo those and any minor trail work. May even try to get in to High Shoals too if enough volunteers  come.
 
On a separate note, at last Tuesday's MHH club hike three of the MHH maintenance folks added to their hike by walking down from Brasstown Bald to Jacks's Gap via the Jack's Gap trail; there were several blow downs but the folks were without any gear. So Friday, the 20th (Very Cold), two hardy souls (Bob LeHoullier and Richard Sullivan) returned and cut out 6 blow downs and associated debris. They also went back to Miller Trek to attempt the large tree at the top but the chainsaw chain came off. 
 
FYI: MHH volunteers recently have traveled both the Wagon Train and Arkaquah Trails, and both were essentially OK with very minor work involved. 

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Thursday, February 12, was not a formally scheduled trail maintenance work day. However due to recent adverse weather that prevented us from accomplishing all that we planned to do earlier, I put out a call for a "few" volunteers to come out on this unscheduled day to help make up some lost opportunities. I had planned on doing ONE stretch of trail that was scheduled for a coming hike. Welllllllll, as the saying goes "my cup runneth over". Eight (8) great folks showed up for this ONE stretch! So being the creative person I am,  your MHH volunteers "seized the day". We had a "triple-whammy" of a day, accomplishing three of my objectives.

 
First, Dave Richardson-the lionhearted worker and intrepid commuter, Jack-the MHH surveyor in-chief-Dugger, and someone other guy named Bob LeHoullier-"The Pres," launched onto the Rim Trail from the upper FS Road 6176 in Fires Creek NE to Big Peachtree Bald and back navigating through some confusing areas and reopening and blazing the trail as necessary while Dave ever the glutton for punishment carried his favorite Brushcutter the "Heavy Husky". This effort will help to allow us to move forward and concentrate on another section of the Rim as we work toward the 2009 goal of redoing the entire Rim Trail.
 
Second, Tom Bussolari-the asst. fire chief, medic, and a brand new volunteer Steve Jersey-the "guru of geocaching " and GPS navigator extraordinaire and a super "Meals on Wheels" volunteer, took the Rim Trail back down to the Leatherwood Falls area. I- of course-in my humble wisdom- thinking that with newer volunteers I give them the easiest path later found out that their route was full of blow downs that caused them to work extra hard using hand saws to work their way back down. So much for my plan.
 
Third, after some faux pax on my part, Jim Morgan-a super Hard working and Fast Mover, joined Steve Sutherlin-the long-suffering maintenance guy who has been in the vanguard of this effort for many years, and John Quinlan on the Huskins Branch Trail. This was the reason this day came about-to prepare this trail in anticipation of a hike planned soon. I saw this as likely one of the worst sections in that neither Steve Sutherlin nor I had ever worked this trail thus surely needing work. Well, once again, to show how truly gifted I am this turned out to be the easiest route of the three on this day. Yeah, I should get some grief about this "fine" call. This trail had no blazing on it at all; none! So other than moving a limb or two on the trail and doing some confirming blazing it was "a walk in the park".  Do you think I could day it was easy due to the fact that this was the most gifted team??! ! Kinda doubt it too!!! Well to make up for our easy path we did some cutting of rhododendron and one very large log blocking the path of the Leatherwood Falls Loop Trail.
 
As always, I am awed by the spirit of these fine volunteers and sincerely thank them again for their fine service in the accomplishment of our club goals.

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Even though Thursday, 29 Jan 09, was not a regularly scheduled trail maintenance day, five wonderfully motivated and hardworking individuals came together to accomplish 3 objectives. First we conducted a "road reconnaisance" designed to advise the Tusquittee Ranger District that the road (to Big Stamp on the Rim trail) was open and safe to travel in anticipation of the USFS providing transport for MHH trail maintenance volunteers to that point next week on 5 Feb. This objective was admirably accomplished due to the capable driving of David Richardson in 4 wheel drive low range thru a few, lets just say a few "tough spots", enroute to Big Stamp. Way to go Dave!! At that point we jumped out ("fled"?) the vehicle to scout the area. Our erstwhile tour guide, Dave, showed us the shelter on the high point near the fire tower that could have been used as a storm shelter for the tower lookout (or hideout Eric Rudolph??). At that point Dave returned to FS road 340A while Richard Sullivan, Pam Sullivan, Jim Morgan, and John Quinlan began to do some trail work (thus began the second objective to make Rockhouse Creek trail "open, blazed, and safe." After all as long as we traveled that far (50 min. trip from the picnic area) we might as well be productive trail workers and earn our "pay". H'mm, a bill to Bob!?! After we worked our way down Rockhouse we met Dave coming from the other direction and we had lunch with the creek roaring underneath us. Very cool!! Not to mention very pretty scenery. At around 2 pm Dave, Jim, and John, ever the gluttons for punishment, drove to the end of FS 340C; farthest point in the rim basin, and got ready to launch into objective 3. This objective saw the three of us take off cross country, heading north by compass, with the goal of reaching the Rim Trail by the shortest path. Success was achieved here too after a challenging bushwhack STEEP climb. Once there we marked the Rim Trail very brightly so that point can be readily identified by workers traveling from either direction on the Rim. On the way back down we marked with bright tape that newly found path so the Rim can also be accessed and easily followed from the end of 340C. Well folks it was, as they say, a "helleva" day with all three objectives met in a superb style by amazing well spirited MHH Volunteers.

I cannot say enough about these hard working folks. They are the heroes to me for all I put them through and still end the day with extremely high spirits.

John Quinlan _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, 22 Jan 09, saw 8 great MHH volunteers take to the trails. We met at MaryAnn's where most enjoyed some nourishment and highly intelligent conversation (or BS if you prefer).  As a Georgia day was planned we had previously acquired the Young Harris College gate key and began our drive up to the Wilderness area. From a previous report, courtesy of Bobbi LeHoullier,  I knew that we had to cut out at least one large tree, so well equipped with three chain saws we began cutting our way through some branches and a few heavy trunks that blocked our vehicle path enroute to the wilderness gate.  From there we continued further (without power equipment as prescribed by the Forest Service). At this time, since we still had the 3 saws,  we decided on using a portion of this splendid crew to return to a section of the Chunky Gal Trail that needed a good bit of chain saw work. As a result Harold Dyer (a brave vehicle driver), Guy Burger (previous MHH Trail Maintenance Director), and Larry "Big Saw with Big Arm"  Zarefoss continued on into the wilderness area on the Wagon Train trail.  They continued to clear water runoffs and even more unexpected blow downs.  After all, hate to see Larry not get some use of his big hand saw!  The remaining five of your MHH teammates went to that portion of the "Gal" that leads north from Glade Gap up to the first stairway. Richard and Pam Sullivan joined Tom Bussolari in his truck up a VERY snowy FS road to the lower stairs and began working down. Dave Richardson and John Quinlan walked in from Glade Gap up through some 4-5 inches of snow. Each sub-team had a chain saw and we sure made use of them. We met for lunch and Tom and Pam went back up and drove down while Richard, Dave, and I walked back down doing even more heavy duty cutting and HEAVY log moving. All went well and the best news as always is that no injuries were encountered and the spirits were exceptionally high! What a group! Everyone had an over-the-top attitude and we all felt as though much was accomplished. Each of the 8 person team logged 6.5 hours for the day.

 
John Quinlan

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On 8 Jan 09, 9 MHH Volunteers stepped forward to help carry out our club responsibility to care for the trails that we all hike and enjoy. Given the weather forecast, it is a real tribute to our Volunteers that so many were able to "brave the elements."  Because of the weather the plan of the day was changed to work at lower elevations and finish clearing both the Bristol Cabin Trail and that portion of the Rim Trail that saw a considerable number of major blow downs. The group was divided into two groups; one group of four came in from the picnic area and cleared the trail, chain sawing through a few blow downs and helping to remove some water from the trail.  The second group of five came in from Bristol (once they removed a very large tree completely across Fires Creek Road). Much the same here with much cutting of large trees and rerouting water from the trail. For those of you who have not been to Fires Creek area lately, the creek itself is something to behold! It is simply roaringly beautiful and worth a visit. Leatherwood Falls is the best I have seen in many years; just magnificent! Many, many thanks to the nine great folks who came out today. Their names are listed below:
 
Bob LeHoullier
Bobbi LeHoullier
Jim Morgan
Wayne Mack
Guy Burger
Steve Sutherlin
Tom Bussolari
Richard Sullllivan
John Quinlan

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HELP NEEDED TO MAINTAIN EQUIPMENT!

We need someone to help maintain club equipment.  John has secured a storage space courtesy of the Forest Service but needs someone to clean, oil and just generally take care of our trail equipment.  If you are interested in helping, please call Bob LeHoullier or John Quinlan.