On Good Friday I joined my friends at the Cumberland Trails Conference for a day of trail building. I wasn't alone, college students from two universities were there on their alternative spring break assisting with trail building. A group of about 40 people descended on a segment of trail on Renegade Mountain (more correctly, but less well known as Haley Mountain) in Cumberland County, Tennessee.
I was shown how to use the tools, mattock and McLeod, and given some loppers and clippers to groom roots from the trail. Thus began hours of swinging a mattock to remove duff from the trail surface and bench it out. Side by side we stood (out of the swinging death zone of a deadly tool) breaking away and moving duff and soil to the trail specifications.
The Cumberland Trail has very particular specifications to the quality of its trail, which is probably why in the segments I have seen, it is the very best trail in the state in terms of quality. Briefly, the specs are that the trail should be 36" wide, and should maintain a slope of less than 5°. Rock steps should be placed where appropriate.
The Cumberland Trails Conference has a team of full time employees who work on the trail. My friend Shauna Wilson is the team leader. She coerced me to come hang out for a day with them because they need volunteer help, and she probably wanted to hurt me a little after the caving trip I took her on. Mission accomplished. My core hurt in the most wonderful way for the next two days. If you are in need of a gym membership but want to save some money, I recommend putting that energy to use on the Cumberland Trail and aside from toning yourself, you will have done something awesome that an untold number of people will enjoy for the foreseeable future.
If you're interested in assisting in the construction of the Cumberland Trail, the team works Monday through Friday starting at 7:30 AM Central Time. Contact the office to get directions and location details. Call 931-456-6259 or firstname.lastname@example.org
(From their website at: http://www.cumberlandtrail.org/get-involved/volunteer/)