The Butler Chapter of the North Country Trail (NCT) hosted another Keystone Trails Association (KTA) Trail Crew week this year, from Tuesday, May 29 to Sunday June 3, 2012.
The section of the NCT was in a beautiful boulder strewn gorge that follows the Slippery Rock Creek, from the McConnell's Mill bridge for 1.1 miles to Eckert bridge, in McConnell's Mill State Park. This is a very popular section of trail because of its proximity to the covered bridge and the grist mill at the state park, making it one of Pennslyvania's busiest sections of the NCT.
But its rocky beauty is also a major challenge for trail builders who want the trail to be accessible to the wide variety of hikers who venture on to it. That was the goal of Tom Baumgardner, Joe Hardisky, and Dick Boetner, who identified the sections most in need of improvement, and who put forth a plan to make it happen. The plan involved putting in over 40 stone steps to replace some particularly tricky sections that were a challenge to even the most nimble of hikers. A couple of the longer stretches involved working with a grip-hoist: a cool tool that is like having an overhead crane for lifting and placing heavy rocks. Andrew Bashaw, the Regional Trail Coordinator of the North Country Trail for Pennsylvania and Ohio, brought his grip hoist. He directed and aided in using it to move large stones considerable distances, to place them precisely where needed.
Volunteers stayed in the Davis Hollow Cabin, which is operated under the auspices of the NCT in Moraine State Park. This is the second year in a row that the cabin was used for the KTA Trail Crew week, and it proved to be a very suitable place to provide overnight accommodations for the workers. Making it all the more satisfying were the meals prepared by Ceci Ramsey, who came in every morning and evening with something tasty, nutritious and filling. Nothing like a hearty meal after a day of trail building!
By the end of the week, a total of 15 people had volunteered 48 hours on the trail. Thanks to everyone who worked on the project! And a big thank you to KTA for underwriting the room and board, and directing its volunteers to our project. Your support for our trails in PA is fantastic!
The next KTA Trail Care event will take place from July 13-15, on the Mid State Trail (Tioga Region). Contact Pete Fleszar, at 717.583.2093 for information or to register to volunteer! For the full 2012 Trail Care and Trail Crew schedule, please click here