Konnarock Crew

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Appalachian Trailway News, November / December 1999

Reflections on a season of crew

By Jenny Golding
1999 Konnarock Crew Camp Coordinator

Day One of the 1999 Konnarock crew season dawned as usual. The early risers began to pile into the kitchen at 6 a.m., wearing flannel shirts and work pants. The air was still chilly on the dark May morning, so everyone shuffled in and quickly closed the kitchen doors behind them. Midway between groggy and excited, they asked the eternal question: "Coffee ready yet?" Huddled over their steaming mugs, volunteers shared their experiences of the past year and their expectations for the upcoming crew season. As the sun rose and the smell of pancakes and bacon permeated the air, the base camp started to stir.

Andrew Moores and Josh Adams, the crew leaders, roused all the late sleepers while assistant crew leaders Casey Bicanich and Susan Guida loaded tools into the van. After the 7 a.m. breakfast, the base camp really came to life: Volunteers piled back into the kitchen to do the dishes, water jugs were filled, and backpacks were packed in the back of the vans. When 8 a.m. rolled around, everyone piled into the vans and drove out of base camp with horns a-honking and dust a-flying on the way to the day's work site. Five days later/ they would return, trail- hardened and grinning from ear to ear.

And so it went for 16 weeks. The morning routines were the same, but every week was as different as the individuals on the crew. Diversity abounded. For example, one week's crew included a student, a retired military officer, a carpenter, and an underwater archaeologist. After a week of moving rocks and digging, the volunteers returned dirty and tired and ready for a shower. But, they also returned with new friendships and a sense of unparalleled accomplishment for the work they had done. Each individual crew left its signature in one way or another: some in rock, some in soil, and all in the memories of their fellow crew members.

As any seasoned volunteer knows, when you spend a week of your time constructing a section of the Trail, it's impossible not to become tremendously attached to it. It's impossible to forget that big rock (that weighed a least a million pounds) or that section of sidehill that seemed more roots than dirt. But, remarkably, at the end of a week of digging and moving and scraping, a footpath is born, and, oh the pride! Bill Clemens, a volunteer who worked on a Firescald Ridge project, knows that feeling well. Bill took time out of a long trip to return to the work site to show his wife the work he had done a few weeks earlier.

Trail-crew situations also have a way of breaking down barriers. Three volunteers on the special 1999 "over-50" crew were so ecstatic to have to do dishes that they took pictures of themselves to prove to their wives that they could really do it! No one else had to do dishes all week.

And, last but certainly not least, fun is a necessary component of crew life. Assistant crew leader Casey lost a bet to crew leader Andrew on who could last the longest without a shower. (It lasted about a week.) The bet resulted in Casey's serving Wednesday-night dinner in a dress. And, the women-only crew was observed painting dirt mustaches on each other! So, a good time was had by all, while much important work was done on the Appalachian Trail.

Jenny Golding was a Trail maintainer with the Outing Club at Virginia Tech and the Konnarock camp coordinator in 1995 and 1996. She also helped lead the Konnarock women-only crew this past year.