After a successful project with the Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition at Miller Fork Recreational Preserve in Kentucky, we headed east to the DC area where we planned to do some trail work with the Mid Atlantic Climbers. We decided to break up our drive and spend a couple of days enjoying The New River Gorge.
As soon as we arrived, we sought out the American Alpine Club’s new campground (you can camp for $6/night as an Access Fund member) located a short walk from the Junkyard Wall. The new campground is still under construction, but we appreciated the amenities already in place, and we received a warm welcome from the staff. The weather forecast was less than optimistic, but we were able to squeeze in some fine crack and face climbs on the amazing Nuttal Sandstone. With climbing needs met, we packed up the Jeep and headed east.
We arrived at Earth Treks Climbing Center in Rockville, Maryland on Thursday, and chatted with local climbers about the Access Fund, conservation, and the upcoming Adopt a Crag event we were in town to support. We also had an opportunity to chat with the gym’s youth climbing team about what it means to be a responsible climber. The team members were super enthusiastic and left us feeling positive about the next generation of climbers. Following similar gym visits at two Sport Rock Climbing Centers in Virginia and another Earth Treks location, Amanda and I were ready to tackle the upcoming trail project at Sugarloaf Mountain.
Volunteers from the Mid Atlantic Climbers and Potomac Appalachian Trail Club had met with the preserve staff to make plans for the upcoming Adopt a Crag prior to our arrival, and we were excited to see the work site so we headed out for an afternoon recon mission a few days before the project.
The trail we would be working on not only served climbers looking to access crags on the flanks of Sugarloaf Mountain, but also provided hikers with access to the mountain’s summit. Over time the trail had become severely eroded to the point that many sections had turned into gullies. Our job was to tackle one eroded section, with the goal of improving drainage and armoring the trail to prevent further soil loss. We planned to do this by installing a large water bar, utilizing a large fallen tree, and installing several steps using rock quarried from the area.
On the morning of the Adopt a Crag we were greeted by cool temps and a group of eager volunteers, ready to work. We moved the large fallen tree from its resting place to it’s new home across the trail, as a crew toiled in the rocky and root-filled soil to prepare a trench that would hold the log in place. Moving the log required the majority of volunteers on hand, but once it was staged near the trail, a group broke off with rock bars and slings in search of rock for the stair project. In total, crews hauled enough rock to build a six-step stair set, which included large “gargoyle” rocks to keep people on trail, a large check dam, and a significant amount of rip rap to help close and fill in a braided section of trail.
We wrapped up the day as rain began to fall and thunder boomed in the distance. The highly successful Adopt a Crag was a great way to conclude our stay in the mid-Atlantic. We’re grateful to the local climbers for their hospitality and their psych to steward climbing areas in the region. Thank you to everyone that showed up at the trail day, as well as all the great folks that took the time to chat with us at our gym visits while we were in the DC area!