Working as a USFS contractor, especially doing maintenance the way we do it, is always a whirlwind. We spend only a day or two in town if we can help it while doing a maintenance contract, and luckily enough we won a construction contract working for Nantahala National Forest in SW North Carolina while at the same time doing a wilderness maintenance contract in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho. I’ve always wanted as much as possible to work closer to home (the east), so it was perfect. It was building 3.5 miles of new construction very close to Franklin NC on a spur trail off the Appalachian, along with building 80,000 pounds of fieldstone steps at the beginning section using a private landowner’s right-of-way. Logistically it was inventive getting our excavator up to the job site as there was a steep hillside and we weren’t able to build our way up to the start of construction. We finished a spectacular construction section less than 2 hours from my home in the upstate, and both of us were incredibly proud we were able to get a hardened, erosion resistant class 3 trail installed throughout scenic areas overlooking Franklin.
All that lumber you see laid flat was our tracks while we were dragging up 4000 pound loads of rocks for the steps, we were trying as hard as possible to avoid scarifying the hillside. All that inventive excavator movement at the beginning to get over those railroad tie steps without damaging them ended up not mattering as we replaced them all with the stone.