Conservation Leadership Corps on the Roan

On Tuesday, June 21, we were invited to assist the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Conservation Leadership Corps and Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club (TEHCC) with trail improvements leading to Jane Bald in the Highlands of Roan. Our Roan AmeriCorps member Travis Bordley and CTNC Diversity in Conservation intern Tamia Dame had a lively work day with eager interns from widespread home locations, including New Orleans, Dallas, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Carl Fritz, representing TEHCC, explained how recent rain has eroded gravel from sections of the Appalachian Trail, causing large puddles to form along some stretches. This has led hikers to form a secondary path to the right of the Trail. The mission on this workday was to restore the designated trail and discourage off-trail hiking by barricading the secondary path.

After taking the beautiful hike to the top of the bald, Travis discussed the work of SAHC in the area and how the combination of the incredibly unique ecosystem and the amazing scenic beauty make the Roan Highlands a top priority for conservation. He then suggested a “solo sit” activity, in which everyone spread out to reflect on our natural surroundings for fifteen minutes. Afterwards, participants discussed how important it is to appreciate our environment and the value of staying connected to nature. This activity helped facilitate a truly productive and meaningful workday.

As the morning turned to afternoon, the trail accumulated heavier traffic of hikers and visitors. Nonetheless, the group persisted with their work, and countless hikers stopped to thank the group for their service. Around noon the group broke for lunch and took some time for camaraderie and reflection of their progress. Though our SAHC representatives had to return to Asheville after lunch, the rest of the group continued their work for the day, determined to restore the beautiful trail leading to Jane Bald. Thank you for your efforts!