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Gauley Mountain, Bear Pen, Upper Tea Creek, Tea Creek Connector

10409312_10204596425485344_3907604918527573558_nOn Thursday Greg Moore and I (aka Melissa Dobbins) did a significant amount of trail work on Bear Pen and Upper Tea Creek trails in the Tea Creek District of the Monongahela National Forest. We parked at the Gauley Mountain parking area and hiked to the Bear Pen trailhead, clearing sticks off the trail along the way. The first half of Bear Pen was decently cleared to the shelter thanks to Rob Robinson (Fat Bike tracks were a dead give-a-way), but the section between the shelter and the Tea Creek trail junction was another story. We slowly picked and cleared windfall from the trail and cut fallen trees, but the biggest issue we focused on was the run-off/drainage issues on both Bear Pen and Upper Tea Creek. Basically, the trails had become creek beds themselves. We spent hours elbow and ankle deep in mud and crud, clearing debris from from existing drainages and trail to improve, or divert the flow of water. We also laid rock in various section s in low lying wet areas with hopes to keep folks from widening the trail. We have plans to go back and cut additional drainage in areas that are now seeing water flow on the trail and clear existing drainages. It has become very obvious after this past winter and recent rains we have serious drainage issues, new and old that really need to be addressed. Also, on Upper Tea Creek Trail where there was an existing small slide occurring on the bank above the creek, has broken away to the point the trail is gone. The wall of the bank where the break away is happening is extremely water logged, and there’s evidence the bank is fracturing in a larger area. I have to admit, I question the banks stability and personally, have no desire to be anywhere near it. I suggest we consider creating and submitting a short re-route above the bank of the creek to prevent further erosion and for folks safety. Other than that it was windy, rainy and in the mid 40’s. The sun did come out for a brief period while we had lunch, but it didn’t stay for long. Be advised creeks are bit high, so be prepared to get wet at the crossings. This loop is ready to ride/hike, but it’s not for the light hearted. While you’re out there, be sure to kick a stick or two out of the trail, there are plenty to go around!

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