Lest anyone thinks maybe our trail maintenance folks have been sitting around a campfire all summer, telling tall tales and swearing they’re true, here’s a little bit clearer picture of what they have really been up to.
Just before mid-July, we went sailing past our last year’s total of 1,805 hours of trail care. And more recently, we slipped by our all-time high of 1,865 hours, set back in 2016. We report these hours at year’s end to the KTA and to DCNR.
DCNR puts a monetary value on all volunteer work performed; I’m not aware of the latest value. It is said that in years past this value was considered when grants were available, but it seems this money has not been available in recent years. The last grant I am aware of was to KTA, which was then divided up among several trail clubs in the state.
But then our club is not about setting records or applying for grant money; our mission is to provide hikers with one of the best, if not the best, backcountry trails in Pennsylvania and beyond. In fact a hiker from Tennessee has heard about our STS, and plans to come and hike it, probably by the time you are reading this.
By this time I believe just about every mile of the trail has had some type of maintenance, be it mowing, weedwhacking, brushcutting, blazing, lopping, removing downed trees, etc.
This year the entire STS has been measured and mile-markers have been placed at each of the 84 miles. Hikers like these, as they can better tell their progress and where they are on the trail and maps. It also helps the maintainers when hikers report a problem by giving the nearest mile-marker. A lot of clearing took place as the trail was covered in this fashion.
We again partnered with KTA to finish the Greenlick Run log bridge, which eliminates about four wet crossings during times of high water. Right now most streams are way down, but hikers and backpackers are out there year around and they appreciate these bridges.
Speaking of which, we have a couple more bridges to put in, hopefully this year yet. And we definitely have another trail shelter to erect, this one near Bolich Run, at Mile-17.8. This will be our sixth shelter including the repurposed CCC dynamite storage magazine (D-Mag).
In the future we do hope to put up at least one more on the west side (northbound) of the loop. That is, if our plans come together and the situation allows.
It’s gratifying for our group to be able to introduce people to at least parts of the great 260,000-acre Susquehannock State Forest. The STS is nearly all on State Forest lands, with lots of timber, wildlife, clear-flowing streams, beautiful vistas, camping just about anyplace along the trail, and plenty of clean, virus-free air. How can you go wrong?