MST Maintenance – It’s not easy right now

BRPMST - walking through tunnel

Thanksgiving weekend seems to be trail maintenance time. Yesterday Lenny and I worked on our Appalachian Trail section from Devils Fork Gap to Rice Gap. Today, I helped him on his section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Big Ridge Overlook MP 403.6. to Beaverdam parking area MP 401.7. Both days were cold, especially since we were over 4,000 ft.

BRPMST - iciclesLenny’s section is only two miles; it should be easy, peasy. Usually it is.

But right now, the Blue Ridge Parkway is closed from MP 405 NC 151 to MP 399. There was a rock slide over a year ago and this section has been closed on and off since then. So what is a maintainer to do? Walk the road, of course.

We parked to Elk Pen Gap (MP 405) and walked on the road Parkway south until the start of Lenny’s MST section. We were carrying clippers, lopper, a hand saw and a shovel –  the latter to clean out waterbars.

Walking in the middle of the road with no traffic is eery. We had the overlooks and the yellow lines all to ourselves. I took pictures of each overlook but the trees all looked bare out there.BRP view - MST maintenance

We walked through the tunnels with no fear of getting hit. Ordinarily, walking through a tunnel is very dangerous because cars don’t expect pedestrians. And it’s dark.

But today, we waltzed through. I sang with my echo. I also noticed lights on the ceiling of the tunnel. Maybe they were motion sensors but I’ve never had the opportunity to study a Parkway tunnel up close.

Coming back on the Parkway, we were stopped by a U.S. government car. He wanted to make sure that we were not  in trouble. After we told him about maintaining the MST, we asked him for a ride but his truck was full of equipment. He confessed that he wanted to also ensure that we weren’t picking ginseng with that shovel. No, just cleaning out waterbars.

It’s good to have those trail maintenance chores behind us until March. Now if we could just rake our yard as efficiently.


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