What a great year for community volunteers caring for wild places of the South! In 2022, Wild South coordinated 300 events with the support of over 550 people who love the forest just like you!
It’s no surprise that these folks get an AMAZING amount of work done. Together they make a huge difference for the places we all care about.
Enjoy the fun photos and remember to donate to give these volunteers the support they need to protect your wild forests and rivers!
Remembering Michael Rasmussen
It’s been a great year, but not without loss. Mike was a friend, Wild South volunteer, AT hiker, lover of the outdoors. His contributions on the trail have made a lasting difference. Countless wilderness visitors will benefit from his efforts, as will the wilderness itself.
2022 Photos of the Year
Wild South volunteers hauled over 600 bags of trash out of National Forest this year. One of the most memorable clean-up days involved hauling an abandoned VW bus up out of a deep ravine. Using highline techniques developed for trail-building, they floated chunks of vehicle up into the air and over to the road without damaging the hillside.
This was the first of many forest road cleanups for the year, this one along the south end of Old 105 beside Linville Gorge.
Perhaps the most astounding cleanup effort of the year yielded 300 tires and other junk dumped into the beautiful Nolichucky River in Tennessee.
Harper Creek and Lost Cove got hit hard by winter storms. This is one of several crews that cleared hundreds of trees off the trail, also stopping enjoy North Harper Creek Falls.
Winter weather also brought down a gigantic oak on Forest Road 99 up to Table Rock. The team sliced it into manageable chunks, then had fun rolling them down the hill.
This was the big annual ditch and culvert cleanup on the road up to Table Rock. Without help each year from the TAASC youth club and NC Outward Bound School this road would run into serious maintenance trouble.
Wild South is in the process of recovering the trails of Unaka Mountain Wilderness. In March a crosscut team hiked in Rock Creek.
Backcountry graffiti removal is a Wild South specialty. This was a cleanup at Hawksbill in Linville Gorge. Volunteers cleaned up over 650 graffiti tags this year.
Most of the work to build the new “Leadmine” section of the Linville Gorge Trail was completed in 2021, but rock work continues at a few stream crossings.
One of the focus projects for 2022 was realigning the Hawksbill Trail to reduce erosion and keep hikers from getting lost and calling 9-1-1.
More work on “Leadmine”, this time in the rain and with the benefit of serious muscle from Outward Bound.
Removing graffiti at Brown Mountain Overlook using a chemical-free method developed by Wild South.
Ropes and pulleys are usually for trail work, but sometimes they help with hauling trash too. In April, volunteers cleaned up appliances, tires, and commercial waste dumped off the side of a Forest Service road near Upper Creek.
Wild South crews cleared 600 trees off trails in 2022. This crew worked Rock Jock Trail in the early spring.
As the Hawksbill trail realignment picked up steam, locust logs were collected and used to build steps.
Clearing trees of the east end of Persimmon Ridge in Harper Creek Wilderness Study Area.
One of the biggest projects for the year was construction of an official climbers access trail on the northwest side of Table Rock. Many folks came together to make that happen. One of the first was a team of climbers and Outward Bound instructors.
Part of the Hawksbill Trail effort included using leaves to naturalize eroded areas. The crew only encountered one rattlesnake….
Limestone Cove is one of the only wilderness equestrian trails in the north zone of the Cherokee National Forest, but had become completely blocked with fallen trees. Wild South has joined forces with the 423 Trail Riders to start recovering this important trail.
After volunteers painted the fence at Brown Mountain Overlook, graffiti and vandalism at this problem site slowed to a trickle. It’s one of Wild South’s many graffiti-cleanup success stories
Near the completion of the Hawksbill project, fallen trees were used to naturalize the area and guide hikers in the right direction.
Montreat College lent a hand to install signs and continue construction of the new trail at Table Rock.
Not for the first time, Outward Bound helped haul water to a remote location to help with graffiti cleanup in sensitive cliffside habitat. This time it was at the Chimneys in Linville Gorge. The Wild South cleanup crew arrived the next morning and took care of business.
Two strong Outward Bound crews joined Wild South on the new Table Rock trail during midsummer.
A big hemlock fell in a particularly awkward spot on the Linville Gorge Trail near Cabin Trail. Wild South volunteers took the opportunity to train with the saws.
The tons of rock hauled by Montreat College, Outward Bound, and others was put to use in a combined effort with the Mountains-to-Sea Trail Section 4 crew. They know a thing or two about rock, and helped transform the muddy mess into a proper trail.
More help on Table Rock, this time from a visiting team from the University of Florida, plus a summer camp crew from nearby Camp Lutherock.
A milestone for Wild South graffiti cleanup efforts on Wilson Creek: the last of the legacy vandalism was removed this summer! That took several years to finish, but keeping things clean improves visitor behavior. Already the rate at which new graffiti appears has slowed dramatically. The team also picked up a lot of trash and broken glass on the beaches.
More rock being moved for the Table Rock climbers trail by several teams of community volunteers.
As summer was winding down it was time to start scouting for the mega-cleanup project at Spence Ridge. That’s where 19 tons of wreckage is left from the ruined bridge. USFS had decided not to replace the bridge, so the remaining parts were a useless eyesore detracting from the wilderness area. Wild South has been advocating for its cleanup for years, and in 2022 we got the green light.
The year’s final effort at Table Rock completed construction of rock steps at one of the most eroded and dangerous spots along the cliffbase.
This fall Wild South began recovery of the historic Lost Cove Loop in the Lost Cove Wilderness Area. It’s a big project that could take years. To jump start the project we joined forces with a traveling AmeriCorps crew and three student crews from Outward Bound.
In October, disassembly of the remaining Spence Ridge bridge parts began. The heavy wooden beam of the bridge was removed, then sliced into reusable chunks and split with wedges to build steps in the nearby trail.
The biggest graffiti cleanup of the year happened in October on the banks of the Nolichucky River. Two billboard-sized tags were removed by a dedicated team of local residents, river guides, and other lovers of the beautiful Noli Gorge.
The TAASC youth club joined Wild South again late in the year for trash cleanup at Wiseman’s View and along Old 105. They bagged an overflowing truckload, including hundreds of pounds of recyclable metal discarded on the roadside.
Wild South worked together with the 423 Trail Riders again in the fall, helping with restoration of the historic hitching post at Shinbone Rock.
In November a meeting with the new USFS trail lead on the Unaka Ranger District turned into a trail day at Little Jennings.
Tebow supervised the final efforts of the year on restoration of the historic Lost Cove Loop on Bee Mountain.
Salvaged wood from the Spence Ridge bridge was repurposed as retaining walls and steps in the nearby trail switchbacks.
In December, volunteers trained in rock-splitting techniques, preparing for work on the concrete bridge pylons at Spence Ridge in the new year.
The big annual December Wolf Pit Day is always a great collaboration with several local organizations.
Volunteers gathered for the holidays at Brown Mountain Overlook in December to clean up trash and continue training on rock-splitting techniques.