Chattanooga, TN- This Saturday, close to 50 volunteers gathered at Sunset Park, a segment of the Chickamauga/Chattanooga National Military Park located atop Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, to complete several different trail maintenance projects.
Spearheaded by the Southeastern Climbers Coalition and the National Park Service, the day was sponsored in part by The Access Fund, Rock/Creek, PMI, Earthscapes, Black Diamond Equipment, with grants and funding provided by Patagonia and Chaco. Climbers joined with trail runners, hikers, and other trail users to improve the existing trail and repair sections that had been damaged.
Projects completed include the mulching of a significant portion of the Mountain Beautiful Trail below the headwall, the repair and establishment of waterbars, steps, rock walls and belay spaces in high traffic climbing areas, repair and painting of the information kiosk at the base of the headwall, and the closing off of several trail cuts deviating from the Mountain Beautiful Trail.
The majority of the volunteers worked from 8 AM until noon, breaking to enjoy lunch from Mojo Burrito. At that time, trail day prizes were drawn for, and included a 60m rope from PMI, Chaco sandals, Black Diamond equipment, and Nalgene bottles from the Access Fund. Afterwards, a core group worked until well after dark on Saturday, and representatives from Rock/Creek, PMI, Earthscapes and the Southeastern Climbers Coalition worked again on Sunday to ensure completion of the needed mulching and area clean up.
Dawson Wheeler, Signal Mountain resident and owner of Rock/Creek, explained: "It was great to see the various user groups coming together to improve this beautiful resource. We need to continue to communicate between user groups and nonprofits as Rock/Creek, the Wilderness Trail Running Association, SEC, SORBA, the Trust for Public Land, and others all have similar goals: to get people outside more often to enjoy human-powered, low-impact sports."
Randy Whorton of Earthscapes Mulch engineered a solution that involved blowing mulch from a blower truck at the parking lot about 500 feet down the trail and over the side of the headwall. Over 20 cubic yards of mulch were used, and as Whorton explains, the labor and cost savings were enormous compared to hauling bags of mulch that are commercially available: "How much labor did that save? It's phenomenal. Hundreds and hundreds of bags of mulch would have been used... it would have taken weeks to get all the bags down the trail with 50 volunteers." In addition, by using local organic matter collected curbside by the City of Chattanooga, this process cut down on fossil fuel emissions associated with purchasing commercially bagged compost that often comes to Chattanooga from North Carolina or as far away as Kentucky.
Samantha Christen, the Sunset Park Representative for the SCC and coordinator of the event, emphasized the importance of the volunteers and sponsors: "Many thanks and much appreciation go out to the National Park Service for all of their support, encouragement and hard work, and to The Access Fund, Patagonia, Chaco, Black Diamond Equipment, The Southeastern Climbers Coalition, Rock/Creek, PMI, Earthscapes, Covenant College Outdoor Club, The McCallie School and all of the individual local and regional climbers who came out to support this effort; all of your support, hard work, valuable time and dedication help preserve and beautify this historic area."
Photography available on flickr:
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Rock/Creek, member of the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, is an independent specialty outdoor retailer with over two decades of experience in the Southeast. Along with its online shops, RockCreek.com and ClimbingGear.com, Rock/Creek provides quality outdoor clothing and gear for a host of activities including kayaking, rock climbing, camping, hiking, trail running, and adventure racing. Rock/Creek is committed to making a positive impact on the environment. For this reason, it uses outdoor retail as a platform to encourage outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship and to improve public access to the backcountry. Rock/Creek supports worthy nonprofits such as the Southeastern Climbers' Coalition and the Wilderness Trail Running Association.