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Hanging Rock: Spring Break 11
Our trip left Eckerd College bound for Danbury, NC at 3:36am on Sunday March 26th, 2011. It was the usual early morning drive with everyone asleep except for the driver and it continued into the usual long drive up through Georgia, South Carolina and the majority of North Carolina with stops for food and gas. However, when we reached Hanging Rock State Park, it was freezing but the Park Rangers were super nice and they showed us to the house we would be living in for the week.
Monday morning I wake up to a land covered in multiple inches of snow. It was incredibly beautiful, white and pristine. The snow meant that we couldn't work on the trail as planned, but we worked with Ranger Brian cleaning out the Lake and Boat Houses that were opening the next weekend for business with a concession stand and canoe/john boat rentals. We swept out lots of dust and leaves and it was odd carrying around life guard chairs and canoes in the snow with the thought that next weekend it would be warm enough to swim. That afternoon we ventured down to see Hidden and Window Falls along with Tory's Den and Falls.
Tuesday we worked with Ranger Dave hauling stones up Hanging Rock Trail. The stones were placed along the side of the trail to prevent water-caused erosion and to prevent people from walking off of the trail. In the beginning we used a motorized wheelbarrow to haul the larger stones up the trail, but with 45 minutes left it broke down so we hauled small to medium rocks up by hand. Overall, we moved 3-4 tons of rock. That afternoon, we summated Hanging Rock Trail which is the most popular trail in North Carolina. That evening we attempted to make Jiffy Pop over the fire, burnt it and resorted to using the stove.
Wednesday it was raining quite steadily when we woke up so Ranger Jaye came and said that they didn't have any more interior work for us to do and that we could have the day off. We decided to use that time to drive over to Asheville, NC and explore the town. It was a great little trip with lots of discussion in the car and fun little shops to explore and eat at once we got there.
Thursday we worked with Ranger Matt clearing a new trail around the ruins of the CCC Camp that built the Park. It was awesome to be working to preserve and enhance the Park where the original builders of the Park had eaten, slept, and socialized. Ranger Matt discussed his duties within the Park and their current management plans for the park. That afternoon, we went and explored the Lower Cascade Falls. The geology throughout the entire Park is amazing and at the base of these Falls was a huge cavern/cliff face.
Friday we worked with Ranger Jason to install two signs at the top of Moores Knob Trail. This involved us carrying 80lbs of dry cement, 40lbs of water, two post hole diggers, two signs, a chainsaw, a long iron rod and many assorted other little tools. While installing the signs we learned many tricks for keeping them in the ground and the requirements for how tall and level to the ground they have to be. It was quite the detail oriented task! After work, we ate lunch at the summit of Moores Knob which is the highest peak in the Park and enjoyed the amazing view! That evening Rangers Matt and Jaye came over to give us tokens of appreciation for our work and chat with us for a bit. After which we left for our sunset then night hike along Wolf Rock Trail. It was really cool to see the little lights of the countryside spread out before you from the cliff face and the intensity of the stars when it is that clear and dark. We also made an s'mores stop along one ridge with our portable burner.
Saturday we did a final half day of work with Ranger Jason. We cleared pioneer pine trees from the area behind the Visitor's Center because they were growing too tall and were going to block the view and weren't supposed to be growing there. At 12:30pm we clambered back in our trusty van and headed back to Eckerd College. We made multiple stops along the way for gas and food. We arrived at Eckerd around 1:30am on Sunday April 3rd, 2011.