Rock, Possum, and Soddy Segments – February 27 – March 26, 2005


The 10th Annual Spring Breakaway was a sweat success where we made great progress in completing more of the Rock/Possum/Soddy Gorge Segment in north Hamilton County. We had 20 colleges and universities, two high schools, and a “strong” 10-member Americorp team represented. There were over 200 students that participated during the 4-week program that was based at the Dogwood Camp in Soddy Daisy, TN. Many of our Wagonmasters and BIG DIG Staff returned to lead and teach the students as well as new volunteers that came out to see what Spring BreakAway was all about. With this Spring BreakAway program we now have 6 miles of trail added to the Cumberland Trail.

In Week 1 we saw one but outstanding group from the University of Michigan. The cold and snowy week began in Rock Creek near Retro Hughes Rd. where participants built some great trail on the first day. Silver 2 team from Americorp joined in the fun on Tuesday when everyone hiked down into the gorge to finish sections of trail along the creek. By the end of the week with only a couple of sections that needed rockwork remaining, we were out of Rock Creek and into the Possum Creek Segment. Thanks goes to Cordell Hull State Park Manager Robyn Peeler for lending us their Americorp Team Gold 4 on Friday to work with Silver 2 and to enjoy the festivities that night.

Week 2 saw a big population jump with the arrival of Grand Valley State University, MI; Michigan State University, Grand Rapids Community College, MI; University of Pittsburgh, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Washington University of St. Louis. There were also some local students from Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville to help during their spring break. Students and volunteers went back into the Possum Creek Segment to complete trail in the area between Big and Little Possum Creeks. The trail work was easy at first but as they made progress into the gorge it became more technical. This enthusiastic bunch met the challenge and made great strides in building the trail. Silver 2 was able to go back into Rock Creek and finish the remaining rock sections. While they finished the rockwork, Sabrina the Ditch Witch was able to finish the flatter upper sections. The Rock Creek trail is complete lacking a couple of ladders and the suspension bridge!

Week 3 saw the arrival of Keene State, NH; Hamilton College, NY; Western Illinois University, Transylvania University, KY; University of Miami, FL; Emory, GA; and University of North Carolina. They had a challenging week with mostly rocky sections remaining in Possum Creek, so progress was a little slower. Also, the weather reminded us that winter was still here when we saw the return of cold rain. The students and volunteers persevered and by the end of the week we, including Sabrina, were all in the Soddy Creek segment. Possum Creek is now open and hikable with a few sections that will need additional work!

Our 4th and final week saw another large group of students from Florida International University, Frostburg State University, MD; St Norbert College, WI; St Benedict/St Johns University, MN, and a high school group from Camp Gray, MN. Students from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville representing Mike McKinneys geology class came out for a couple of days as well as some high school students from Chattanooga. The work continued in Soddy Creek Gorge Segment between Hotwater and Mulberry Rds. The students enjoyed the challenge of going up and down the rope through “the crack” each day to get to the trail. The weather turned out great with warm sunny days which made trail construction more enjoyable.

Plotting completed trail on map using GPSWEEK 1 (Feb 27 – Mar 5)

  • University of Michigan
  • NCCC

WEEK 2 (Mar 6 – Mar 12)

  • Grand Valley State University
  • Washington University in St Louis
  • Michigan State University
  • Grand Rapids Community College
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Pittsburg
  • NCCC

WEEK 3 (Mar 13 – Mar 19)

  • Keene State College
  • Hamilton College
  • Western Illinois University
  • Transylvania University
  • University of Miami
  • Southern Methodist University
  • NCCC

WEEK 4 (Mar 20 – Mar 26)

  • Florida International University
  • Frostburg State University
  • St. Norbert College
  • College of St Benedict
  • University of Ill.
  • Camp Gray
  • NCCC