Possum and Soddy Segments:

February 26 – April 1, 2006

The 11th Annual BreakAway was one of our best! Despite the fact that a number of our “regular” adult volunteers and schools volunteered in Gulf Coast Communities for much needed Katrina cleanup, great progress was made in the challenging rock gardens of the Possum and Soddy segments. 198 students from thirteen colleges and universities and from one high school participated in this year’s 5-week program that was based at the Dogwood Camp in Soddy Daisy, TN.

  • Does the trail really go here?

  • A challenging rockfield

  • A feeling of accomplishment and a rock step to ease the hiker’s path

  • Water break

  • 1000 feet constructed so far, with 143 rock steps, plus another 600 feet under construction

BreakAway #11 was a great success! All the volunteers and students should feel proud of all that they accomplished. We had 33 volunteers who helped with everything from working in the kitchen, preparing meals, washing dishes, cutting boards for the steps, sharpening tools, or running errands, to helping give directions and instructions in trail building and safety to the Alternative Student Break volunteers. 198 students from thirteen colleges and universities and from one high school participated in this year’s program. The volunteers expended over 7600 hours of time and the total driving distances were over 125,000 miles. This year we had another great AmeriCorps* team – NCCC (Silver 2) Crew – assisting with building trails and providing leadership when needed. This in itself is quite an accomplishment.

A challenging rock field

A challenging rock field

As far as accomplishments went, there were many. During the first three weeks of BreakAway, the trail from Hotwater Road to Deep Creek was constructed. This portion of trail built during Breakaway was just a little shy of a mile in length. But it wasn’t shy with rocks; an estimated 200+ tons of sandstone (primarily) were used either as pavers or steps for this section of trail. This also does not include the amount of rock moved to get the trail dug to put the pavers and steps in place. Over a ¼ mile of side hill was also dug for new trail. On Friday, March 17th, some of the volunteers, students, and NCCC staff celebrated with a swim in Deep Creek; and, yes, the water was cold!

Weeks four and five of Breakaway saw the volunteers walking in over the “old” bridge on Opossum Creek for at least 45 minutes. Over ½ mile of new trail was completed during this time frame and some really nice staircase steps completed. By the end of the final week, this section of trail was completed to within 600’ of the existing trail that was completed during Breakaway 2005 along Lane’s Lane. This spot is where Big Dig will start in 2006.

Under the leadership of Jim Hardy and George Summers, the NCCC Silver 2 team worked diligently to complete an exceptionally difficult section of trail along Board Camp Creek. They completed a “wooden” staircase below a wet weather waterfall along with several sets of rock steps and almost 500’ of new trail. This included carrying all the material and tools over 1 ½ miles to the site. What a tremendous job by all parties involved.

Sliding a step rock into place

Sliding a step rock into place

Other achievements during Breakaway #11 included the preparing and serving of more than 3,000 individuals meals by our kitchen staff. The staff was led by Betty Porter and Ray Haley. Sandra Spearman, Hank Baudet, Ed Dippold, Carol Haley, Al and Vera Churcher, Anna Bertram, and Garnett Rush, along with many other volunteers, all assisted the kitchen staff during this year’s Breakaway. Thanks go out to Betty and to Ray and their families for their dedication and support.

This year First Baptist Church of Chattanooga offered a reduced rate for the Dogwood Lodge in return for reworking their nature trail. Due to a partial rainout on one day and a Friday when all volunteers were leaving due to travel demands, all but 100 feet of this trail were completed. This demonstrates the commitment from all parties to completing the trail.

BreakAway student places a rock step

BreakAway student places a rock step

Last but not least was the help and support from the Tennessee State Parks during this year’s Breakaway. Bobby Fulcher and his staff provided numerous educational programs during the days along the trail with topics ranging from a demonstration with a corn snake to history of the area, geology and many other topics. These programs are enjoyed by all and help with the educational effort of ASB. However, probably the most popular program of all remains the infamous “Friday Night Hoe-Down.” Thanks to State Parks, Bob Fulcher, and all his staff for a tremendous job.

Breakaway 2006 was once again a great success due to all of our volunteers. Thanks again to all who helped in changing the map!