Crag Staff Belayer Alaina Krakowiak ventured out to Castle Rock a few weeks ago for a trail day with the Southeastern Climbers Coalition. She wrote about her experience for this edition of From The Field. If you have an upcoming trip that you’d like to tell everyone about, drop us a line!

Earlier this fall,If you are like me, then you decided to become a member of the Southeastern Climbers Coalition at the Back to School Bash in August. You were probably excited to get a tank top, a sticker, a membership card, and that immediate sense of satisfaction that comes from helping a cause that you believe in. And, if you are like me, then you knew that that wouldn’t really be enough. I didn’t quite feel that I could call myself a member of the SCC if I never got involved. Fortunately, it turns out that that is not too hard to do.

A few weeks ago, Ben, Tate, Andrew and I headed down to Castle Rock to volunteer at a trail day. After a long and sleepy drive punctuated by the climaxes of stories told by Tate, (induction is apparently a really awesome way to cook things), funny observations of the strange signs and buildings that hide in the smaller towns of Tennessee, and the occasional expansive view, we arrived.

 

castlerock2

 

After an enthusiastic greeting and a quick stretch, we unloaded our tools and got to work. Between the four of us, we wielded a mini saw, two loppers, some shovels, and a metal rake. Upon seeing the overgrown trail, I was a little taken aback. I didn’t think we’d ever be able to untangle the jungle that had overtaken what had apparently once been a trail. But, with the four of us working diligently, the trail took shape in almost twenty minutes. We cut away angry vines covered in thorns, unearthed saplings that were blocking the way, and raked away all of the other branches and leaves that would’ve made footing treacherous.

 

castlerock1

 

After clearing both sections of the trail, Andrew and I focused on leveling a section of trail while Tate and Ben worked on putting in a few steps. These aspects of a trail might seem small, even insignificant, but it is surprising the kind of impact that they have. If you were going to spend the day climbing at your favorite crag, you’d probably have some gear with you. If you had to stumble down a rocky uneven path or try to walk up a muddy incline, it wouldn’t prevent you from climbing, but it would put at least a small damper on a presumably otherwise enjoyable experience. The next time you are out hiking, just take a look down and take note of the especially conveniently placed rocks, steps, and other helpful aspects, and know that someone put in the time and effort to make those things happen.

 

After our work had reached a stopping point, we reconvened for a well deserved lunch of sandwiches piled high with meat and thick slices of cheese, mini Snickers bars, and numerous other snacks. We met lots of interesting people (including the coauthors of the new Chatt Steel guidebook!), some friendly dogs, and exchanged a few Crag t-shirts for some AAC chap stick and hand shakes.

 

If you ever see that a trail day or any other event in need of volunteers will be happening at one of your favorite areas, or even somewhere new to you, I would strongly suggest taking part. There is nothing more rewarding than stepping up and helping out the community that you love. For more info on such upcoming events, check out the SCC’s website.