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Stonewall Brigade

Scrapbook

The view from Tibbet Knob, looking
north toward Big Schloss in the distance

Reports and pictures from selected past Trail Work Sessions


November 1, 2008 -- Mill Mountain Trail

The Stonewall Brigade cleared blowdowns and some brush from Mill Mountain Trail, and replaced a sign indicating Perry Overlook, an outstanding viewing point north of Big Schloss.

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October 4, 2008 -- North Mountain Trail

The Stonewall Brigade cleared major blowdowns from the northern end of the southern section of North Mountain Trail, just south of the junction with Stack Rock Trail. Much of the northern section of the trail was re-blazed, and brush was cleared along the trail.

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April 05, 2008 -- Half Moon Trail Trail, Half Moon Lookout Trail

The PATC volunteer monthly trail crew for the Great North Mountain district, the Stonewall Brigade, spent a pleasant April day clearing blowdowns and vegetation from Half Moon Trail and Half Moon Lookout Trail. Our crew of five hardy volunteers included District Manager Lee Manning (our certified sawyer), with volunteers Leslie Manning, Bill Cooke, and newcomers Jean Carlon and Jim Plitt
The crew used the chain saw to good advantage clearing blowdowns from the higher elevations, arriving at Half Moon Lookout shortly after noon. Lunch was accomplished while enjoying the view and the warm sunshine.
The crew completed the trip to the summit of Half Moon Mountain, clearing some trash from fire rings there, and scouting the remains of a lookout tower foundation.

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September 08, 2007 -- Big Schloss Cutoff Trail, Mill Mountain Trail, Little Stoney Creek Trail

The PATC volunteer monthly trail crew for the Great North Mountain district, the Stonewall Brigade, spent a very warm September day working multiple trails. With eight volunteers available, including 3 certified chain sawyers, we split into two groups. Two chain sawyers with two volunteer swampers headed up Little Stoney Creek Trail toward Sugar Knob Cabin, while the remaining four attacked Big Schloss Cutoff Trail, and additional work on Mill Mountain Trail once the summit of Greast North Mountain was reached.
The chain saw crew (led by District Manager Lee Manning, with volunteer sawyer Bruce, and volunteer swampers Thadd and Robert) carved their way through a total of nine blowdowns, including two of nearly two feet diameter, one of which had been partially blocking that trail for over three years. After some lunch and a well deserved rest at Sugar Knob Cabin, this crew descended the trail while enjoying the inevitable war stories about wildlife encouonters, and the most excellent humor of Bruce, conveyed in a convincing Scottish brogue. Get Lee to tell his naked raccoon story if you've never heard it.
The other crew (led by Crew Chief Jim Tomlin, with overseer Catherine, and volunteers Shawn and Leslie) headed up Big Schloss Cutoff Trail, where they encountered blowdowns of their own.
With no chain saws in their group, they resorted to the 21 inch Corona, which served them well, and got them past all the blowdowns they found.

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October 21, 2006 -- Tibbet Knob Trail

The PATC volunteer monthly trail crew for the Great North Mountain district, the Stonewall Brigade, enjoyed perhaps the most glorious day of 2006 while making an improvement to Tibbet Knob Trail. The third Saturday of October turned out to be not only a most beautiful weather day, but the fantastic display of leaf colors made the day unforgettable. The widespread oranges, bright reds, and intense yellows illuminated by the brilliant sunshine set the mountainsides aglow with color.
Instigated by a 22-inch blowdown which blocked Tibbet Knob Trail in such a way to make restoring the former tread impossible, the crew cleared a new path around the obstacle. After impeding brush was removed, a section of the 150-year-old red oak was removed on the downhill side of the former tread. A grade dip was installed utilizing the new opening in the once-proud oak. A surprisingly large number of hikers passed by and thanked the Stonewall Brigade for a job well done.
Several members of the crew who had not visited the viewpoint from the top of Tibbet Knob were encouraged to complete the jaunt to the top, and were glad they did. The view from Tibbet Knob (PATC Map F, Coordinates E-21) of the expanse of Trout Run Valley is always magnificent. Many believe that the view is grander than the view from the more-famous nearby outcropping, Big Schloss. Tibbet Knob would be an excellent mini-hike for taking visitors to see the kind of spectacular forests where PATC does its work.
Overseers and crew regulars Dorothy Schoeneman, Lee and Leslie Manning, Catherine Kelleher, Bruce White, and Jim Tomlin were joined by Chon Hwa Morris from the NIH Hiking Club. After the work was completed, the group reconvened at the Mannings' vacation cabin nearby for refreshments and socializing. It was truly a very special day outdoors.

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September 16, 2006 -- Mill Mountain Trail

The crew of five, including Crew Chief Jim Tomlin, and volunteers Lee, Leslie, Bruce and Dorothy, armed with powerful weed-whackers and hand saws, cleared brush and small blowdowns from almost 3 miles of Mill Mountain Trail, from the Wolf Gap Knob at the top of the climb out of the Wolf Gap Campground to the intersection with the Big Schloss Cutoff Trail. The day remained cool, and was punctuated with occasional light showers, keeping the crew from overheating.
On Sunday, Jim, who is also the overseer of Mill Mountain Trail North of the Big Schloss Cutoff Trail, returned to the trail for additional brush removal along the remainder of the trail.

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May 20, 2006 -- Installing Signs on Great North Mountain

With a crew of eight, the Stonewall Brigade tackled the job of mounting trail signs in three locations on Great North Mountain. The weather was ideal, both sunny and cool, as the crew approached its first sign location, the junction of Mill Mountain Trail and Tuscarora Trail, with seven hiking up German Wilson Trail and one up Little Stoney Creek Trail past Sugar Knob Cabin. Crew chief Jim Tomlin was joined by Stonewall Brigade Trail Overseers Lee and Leslie Manning, Catherine Kelleher, and volunteers David, David, Simon, and Sriram for the day. Armed with heavy steel digging bars, shovels, and other implements of destruction, the crew installed new signs (lumber, hardware, and sign lettering provided by the U. S. Forest Service) at the intersection of Mill Mountain Trail with the Tuscarora Trail, at the intersection of the Tuscarora Trail and Half Moon Trail, and at the intersection of Half Moon Trail and Half Moon Lookout Trail.

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November 19, 2005 -- Half Moon Trail

Half Moon Lookout is a spectacular location for views of Long Mountain and the valley of Trout Run, below the western slope of Great North Mountain. An early snowstorm on the Half Moon Trail had brought down a lot of branches, and a large tree which was blocking the trail at its junction with the Bucktail Cutoff Trail.
A crew consisting of newly appointed Trail Overseers Lee and Leslie Manning, together with Assistant District Manager Jim Tomlin, cleared the trail from the parking area on West Virginia 23/10 (the continuation of Wolf Gap Road) to the Bucktail Junction, and reduced the blowdown at the junction to a trail-side log that can serve as a bench.
Although hunting season in Virginia was in full swing, and hunters were evident, the West Virginia side of Great North Mountain was essentially free of hunting activity, and the crew was able to work in safety.

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October 15, 2005 -- Little Stony Creek Trail

The Little Stony Creek Trail (LSCT to the trail overseers) links Forest Service route 92 in the valley of Little Stony Creek with the Tuscarora (Big Blue) trail and Sugar Knob Cabin, one of many which may be rented through the Potomac Applachian Trail Club.
A small but enthusiastic crew of 4 volunteers led by Crew Chief Jim Tomlin traversed the trail's 3.5 miles in both directions, removing blowdowns and doing some cleanup work in and around Sugar Knob Cabin. The tangled blowdown encountered at about mile three required a lot of puzzle solving skill as the crew determined which cuts to attempt, and in what order to do them. The problem was solved, and the blowdown eliminated, to the great satisfaction of the crew.
Mother nature provided a superb fall day, with plenty of sunshine, cool temperatures, and light breezes, making the outing very enjoyable for everyone.

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September 17, 2005 -- Big Schloss Cutoff Trail

The Big Schloss Cutoff Trail (BSCT to the trail overseers) is a convenient connector trail between Forest Service route 92 (in the valley of Little Stoney Creek) and Mill Mountain Trail on the ridge of Great North Mountain. It intersects Mill Mountain Trail about a mile north of Big Schloss.
A superb crew of nine volunteers arrived promptly at 9:30 for a very enjoyable day clearing and maintaining the BSCT. The triumph of the day was the thorough defeat of a vicious blowdown encountered about a half mile into the roughly 2 mile trail. Following a careful inspection of the multiple-tree pileup, an order for the cutting was determined and the crescent saws were deployed.
Some 30 minutes of serious lumberjack work later, the trail was completely cleared, and the debris strong-armed into the surrounding woods. A small celebration ensued, with a couple of great photo ops and a lot of self-congratulation on a job well done, and then the crew continued on to the summit of Great North Mountain, and the intersection with the Mill Mountain trail.
At the top, Jim Tomlin shared the story of the fabled "Sword of Damocles" widow-maker limb that had finally been cleared after nearly a year of failed attempts, by a passing backpacker whose "pull" seemed to finally be enough. For the rest of that story, see the January 2005 Issue of the Potomac Appalachian. It's on Page 17 of that issue.

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August 20, 2005 -- A New Trail Begins

A new trail on Great North Mountain in the George Washington National Forest is one exploratory step closer to reality. On August 20th, the PATC Stonewall Brigade crew bushwhacked the 2.5-mile route, establishing flagging tape to be followed by subsequent USFS staff for the purpose of archaeologic and ecologic reviews. The trail would connect Long Mountain Trail and Halfmoon Trail trailhead, and reach the ridgetop of Long Mountain, providing views of Trout Run Valley. A new loop day hike will be possible.
The Forest Service provided the flagging tape, and superb PATC volunteers Denise Mounts, John and Kathy Morland, and Sue Olmstead provided the rest. It was a sweltering hot day, but the crew persisted and the rough new route was completely flagged.
Crew leader Jim Tomlin provided amusement and cold beverages afterwards. Many thanks to those volunteers who came out during such hot, humid weather.

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July 16, 2005 -- Mud-wrestle On Little Stoney Creek Trail

In an attempt to improve drainage on Little Stoney Creek Trail on Great North Mountain, the PATC Stonewall Brigade trail crew played in mud on their July work trip. This was a very educational trip as the reason why some trail areas were goopy with mud while others remain perfectly dry had always been a mystery to hikers. Spending an extended time in one short stretch of trail allowed for observations not normally possible while breezing past. The dry sections of trail were the result of weathered sandstones forming a very sandy, well-drained soil. The muddy sections were atop weathering shale beds, which have a very high clay content, making an impermeable layer of viscous mud. An observer can imagine water below the surface percolating downhill until a clay layer was reached, then puddling and ponding on the surface. July 16 was sufficiently hot and humid that in between pick mattock and MacLeod work, we were permitted time to rest and imagine! Intrepid trail workers Catherine Kelleher, Nick Devoogdt, Jim Tomlin, and Hop Long improved the muddiest, lower half of Little Stoney Creek Trail, taking home about one-tenth of the tread on their pants and boots.

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June 25, 2005 -- Joint Work Session with the NIH Hiking Club

Volunteers from the National Institutes of Health Hiking Club pitched in with the co-leaders of the Stonewall Brigade to place a rustic footbridge in Great Falls, Md., on the Ford Mine Trail on June 25. Led by Mary Travaglini of The Nature Conservancy, a squared-off two-log footbridge was built to protect a water seep containing an endangered freshwater shrimp. A good-sized crew turned out to help move two logs of approximately a half-ton each, shape them to fit, and adjust them to be stable. Thanks to all who turned out, and a special thanks to the international contingent from NIH (YueYing from China, Kay from Germany, Nick from Belgium, and Catherine from Maryland).

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Contact the Stonewall Brigade at stonewall@patc.net.