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Mid State Trail, PA Trail Work Trip

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This trail work trip took place between August 8th and 11th, 2019. What follows are details of my time spent with the Mid State Trail Care Crew maintaing the Mid State Trail to the north and south of Everett, PA

I did this because I had backpacked the southernmost 14 miles of the MST in 2000. You han read about it Here. And I hadn't worked on a multi day trail crew since 1996. You can read about that Here.


Thursday, August 8, 2019- The 108 mile drive from Manassas, VA to Everett, PA was easy. But once I got to Everett, finding Tenley Park, our basecamp for the next 4 days, would prove more difficult. Upon arriving in Everett I first drove to the visitors center. It was closed. So asked a gentleman mowing the grass closeby where Tenley Park was. He said go to the end of this block, turn left, then turn right and you are there. That didn't work. So I drove around awhile, then stopped at a pharmacy and again asked for directions to Tenley Park. A nice lady named Suzy gave me better directions. She got me to the park, but the entrance was gated. So I asked another gentleman up the street mowing the grass how to get to Tenley Park. He said to take 2 right turns and I would be there. He was correct!

I got there around 2:30 in the afternoon. The only person there was a guy fishing in a small pond. So I walked around a bit, then hiked the MST through the park (I found 3 large blowdowns at the northern boundry which I later reported.) Then I just sat around a pavillion and waited for someone to show up.

About 45 minutes later a lady and her 2 kids showed up. She said that she was from a branch of the Bedford County, PA government and was setting up a dinner for about 75 people that would be catered. We talked for a bit and I told her why I was there. So I went to my vehicle and waited for someone from the MST to show up.

MST area manager Deb showed up awhile later and set up at another pavillion. The lady from Bedford County government (I don't remember her name) went and talked to her. Then, she came and told me that Deb was with the MST and to go talk with her. So I did. Ed, the president of the MST showed up next. So I was at the right place.

The lady from the Bedford County government came back over to say that they had ordered 75 dinners and did not expect that many people to come to her banquet. So she invited our group, which would consist of Ed, Deb, Tony, Henry, Ray, 2 ladies whose names escape me (yes, getting old is tough) and myself. We had 3 types of barbque and all the fixins. It was great! Afterwards Deb and Ray went to their homes because they were local. The others set up tents for the night. I opted to sleep in an Adorandack style shelter near where we ate dinner. It looked like a trail shelter, overlooked the pond that the guy was fishing in earlier and had a nice breeze going through it.

Friday, August 9, 2019- A guy named Tom joined us that morning. Everyone was going up a mountain just north of Everett to clear blowdowns and weed whack the trail on the top of the mountain. This area is called Blue Triangle. They asked what I wanted to do and I said whatever was needed. So Tony and I drove to the base of the mountain just north of Everett called blue triangle. Tony hiked up the mountain with his chainsaw. Tom and Henry went to the Sweet Root area further south to clear blowdowns. They told me to clear the trail from the trailhead to the top of the mountain. They gave me a pair of loppers and a small folding saw. So I started up the mountain. The trail was indiscernable. There were blazes there but the growth of plants and weeds was very thick and over 2 feet tall. What do I do now? I started to use the loppers to create a trail bed. But it was very slow going. So I started using the folding saw and hacked away at the vegitation. I created a 2 foot wide discernable path up the mountain. They told me that the up was tough and that I might not make it to the top. They said to work as long as I could and then drive back to the basecamp. So I did. The temps were in the mid to upper 80's and the humidity was high.

Again it was very slow going. I was by myself in an area that I was unfamiliar with using tools that were not quite up to the job. I made slow progress and was getting very hot and exhausted. I had to constantly bend over to hack away at the vegitation to clear the trail. After about 3 hours of doing this I said that was enough. I probably only got 50% of the way up this mountain. I navigated the maze of rough roads to get out of the logging camp that the trail went through. Then, after more difficulty, again found Tenley Park and our basecamp. Deb had made arrangements for us to take showers at a nearby church. I had a key to the church. No one was there. It took me about a half hour to find the shower. But I felt great afterwards.

I waited for the others to get back from their sections of the trail. We then went out for dinner. They kept changing where we were going and how we were going to pay for dinner. I thought that we were all going to pitch in for dinner. But everyone ended up getting their own thing for dinner. No one told me this. So I didn't order anything. We took the pizza that was ordered to a brew pub so that we could have beer and eat pizza. I ended up sharing Ed's dinner since I didn't get anything because of the miscommunication. So we ate, went back to the basecamp, had a fire and went to bed. It was a nice campfire and I am mad at myself for not getting a picture.

Saturday, August 10, 2019- We got up at first light, ate, and then set out to work on the ridges of the MST south of Everett. We drove to an area called Biddle Place. It is located within PA state gamelands 97. Today we had a videographer from the PA Department of Conservation and Resources or DCNR and the minister from the local UMC church in Everett join us. We parked all the 2 wheel drive vehicles at the base of the mountain and took two 4 wheel drive vehicles half way up the mountain. The road going up was very rough. Then we got out and started walking up the rest of the way.

The minister and I were assigned to clear the trail going up all the way to the top of the mountain. The remainder of the crew walked up and started clearing blowdowns and weed whacking along the ridge. The vidiographer went up to the ridge for awhile, then came back down to record the minister and I clearing the trail to the top of the mountain. I may be in a DCNR YouTube video some day. I'll post the link here if I am. Edit- Click/Tap Here to see this video. The minister and I had some great conversations as we hacked the foliage to create a passable trail. We made the trail 3 to 4 feet wide as per Deb's instructions. The minister had to leave around 11:30 AM. So I would be on my own again in the woods for the next 4.5 hours.

I worked my way up the mountain. The trail was in bad shape and again I was making very slow progress. I stopped around 12 noon and ate lunch on the trail. Then I started up again. It was tedious, back braking and very tiring work. But I was determined to get as close as possible to if not to the top. When you are tired you tend to see mirages. I thought that I saw the top at one point but it was just shadows. Around 3:30 PM in the afternoon I started hearing muffled voices coming from the top of the mountain. I don't think that I was just hearing things as people's voices to tend to carry up and down mountain ranges.

Around 3:45 the crew started coming down the mountain. I think that they were disappointed that I had not cleared all the way to the top. But since I was by myself and did not have the proper tools, I think that I did OK getting two thirds of the way up the mountain. They had one casualty on top of the mountain. Henry fell ahd hurt his calf very badly. I hope he mends well as he is 72 years old. So we shuttled people where they had to go, went back to basecamp, showered, then went to another pizza place for dinner.

This time I asked if we were going dutch. We were. So I had 3 pieces of pizza and a drink for 5 bucks. Not bad. Then Deb treated us to ice cream at a place called The Igloo. Man, was it good. We then went back to the park to camp. It was movie night in the park so while we were trying to get to sleep, we heard the audio portion of the latest remake of the movie Dumbo.

Sunday, August 11, 2019- On Sunday morning I felt terrible. Lack of sleep and a sore back convinced me that I did not want to endure another day of bending over and clearing the trail by hand. So I told Ed that I was hurting and was going home. I think that he understood. I then made the 108 mile trek back to Manassas, VA in about 2.5 hours while the crew went up the mountain and worked another 3 or 4 hours.

I had a fun time on this trip. Everyone was very nice to me even though I was the outsider. I hope that I made a diffence improving this trail. I don't have the stamina and endurance for this stuff like I did twenty plus years ago. But my passion for the outdoors is still there.

The Mid State Trail Association has a tough time recruiting maintainers for the MST. The reasons include the fact that the area that it traverses is sparsely populated, the work is very rough and you have to haul chainsaws, weed whackers and DR Mowers up 2 miles of steep trails to get to the tops of these ridges, then do trail work on top of those ridges. If you are reading this trip log and reside in central PA, please consider becoming a maintainer along the MST. They need your help!

Mike C

Mid State Trail Web Site

Keystone Trails Association

Great Eastern Trail Web Site

The MST is part of the Great Eastern Trail
  The MST is part of the Great Eastern Trail.
   By Mike Calabrese

The MST is measured in kilometers
  The MST is measured in kilometers.
   By Mike Calabrese

The MST within Tenley Park, PA   The MST within Tenley Park, PA.
   By Mike Calabrese

Our crew at the barbque   Our crew at the barbque.
   By Mike Calabrese

I slept in a shelter the 1st night
  I slept in a shelter the 1st night.
   By Mike Calabrese

I worked N of Everett the 1st day   I worked N of Everett the 1st day.
   By Mike Calabrese

The MST runs the ridge in this image
  The MST runs the ridge in this image.
   By Mike Calabrese

I slept in my tent on nights 2 & 3
  I slept in my tent on nights 2 & 3.
   By Mike Calabrese

I worked S of Everett on day 2
  I worked S of Everett on day 2.
   By Mike Calabrese



 


 


 


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