The Bartram Trail Report for January includes a lot of rocks, trees, cold hiking, and solid reports from our members out there helping out.
While we had to cancel our Second Saturday workday due to weather conditions, we have still been able to get out and get some well-needed maintenance done this month. We didn’t really expect the snowfall at elevation we received the night before our Second Saturday event and just had to cancel the morning of. Unfortunate too, we were all looking forward to some great trail-grub to be cooked by Jim. We hope we can get that rescheduled soon!
Third Friday Workday
Our Third Friday workday was very successful and some of you may have seen the posts on our social media channels. A small crew of volunteers and a couple of great partners from the Chattooga Ranger District were able to set the last few stones in place at the massive stair rebuild just below Rabun Bald, on the north side. The original steps were built decades ago, but freezing and thawing actions, along with a lot of water flowing across the trail, took them out. Large chunks of mortared stone were littered around this area. Needless to say, its been a nasty mess for a while.
Back in December, we were able to place our Public Lands Corps crew at this location to rehab these steps. They were able to accomplish way more than any of us expected, but their hitch ended a little short of placing the final few steps. We applaud their efforts and those of our Forest Service partners for the huge undertaking.
We returned on a very cold morning this month to finish the steps off. With the help of a winch and pully-system, rock net and bars, and a few strong backs, we pulled some stones from the surrounding woods and moved them into place.
This is a well-traveled section of the trail, with an additional easy access trailhead at Beegum Gap. We greeted several hikers as we toiled away on the stone work. We even had a few pass by just as we finished, who enjoyed the safe descent down the stairs.
Walking With Bartram
Our Walking With Bartram series continued last week on January 27th. The group of 13 hikers were supported by a few of our local volunteers to help with shuttling from Hale Ridge Rd to the starting point at Wilson Gap. This made the trip really great, as those roads can be a little rutted out in places.
It was certainly a cold morning and stayed cold through the day, but as we know, putting those steps in gets the blood flowing and everyone heating up. This group was also treated to the new stairs below Rabun Bald after a short break for lunch at the top of the tower. Fortunately, the sun was bright and the wind was light, so it was a great point to re-fuel bodies and souls.
Over this past weekend, we also had a couple of members hiking between Sandy Ford and Warwoman Dell, who had a little adventure of their own. While they missed the side-trail to Big Rock there were looking for, they certainly didn’t miss the giant pine tree that has been recently blown over. At this point in the trail, about a mile south from Warwoman Dell, you’ll find the huge root ball that has created a bit of an obstacle to go around. We’re working on getting some volunteers out there asap to fix the situation. In the meantime, please use caution while stepping up and around this crater.
Trail Conditions Report
Finally, we’re getting out on this last day of the month for Trailhead Tuesday! We’ve had a couple of folks sign up to join us and we’re looking forward to making this a regular trail maintenance event each month in 2023. Trailhead Tuesday’s are scheduled for the last Tuesday of each month. We’re choose a handful of trailheads to send our volunteer teams out to for light cleanup, replacing rack cards, and making notes of any major work that will need to be done at a later time. This also gives us a chance to meet hikers starting or finishing their trip and for us to convene over frosty beverages at the Lazy Hiker Brewing afterwards.
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