An enthusiastic crew of teens from Camp Celo recently volunteered a long, hard day of trail work, joining a Carolina Mountain Club/NC High Peaks crew of adults to do major rehabilitation work on the Colbert Ridge Trail.

The group installed more than 50 water diversions and steps on a badly-eroded stretch of the popular trail, which leads from the South Toe Valley up to Deep Gap and the Black Mountain Crest Trail.

“These youngsters are amazing,” said CMC Monday Crew Chief and High Peaks co-founder John Whitehouse. “They really pitched in to help us get the water off this trail. Our regular crew members were very impressed with their energy and commitment.”

The combined crews included 13 campers and four counselors, along with a dozen adults from the two hiking clubs. They split into smaller teams and spent the day installing water-bars, which channel rainfall off the trail, and steps, which make footing easier and also capture silt to slow erosion.

Tara Wu, an AmeriCorps Vista intern for the U.S. Forest Service’s Appalachian Ranger District Office in Mars Hill, also joined the work day, representing the public land manager that oversees Colbert Ridge and many other local trails.

Camp Celo is a co-ed summer camp located in the Celo Community and has run continuously for over 75 years. Set on a working farm, the camp offers 7-14-year-olds one-week to four-week overnight programs that are rooted in the Quaker values of non-violence, simplicity and environmental awareness. Instilling a strong work ethic is core to the camp’s mission.

“All of our camp programs regularly utilize the Black Mountain trails for day hikes and backpacking trips,” said Sadie Perrin, a Camp Celo program director. “We are excited to team up with High Peaks and the Carolina Mountain Club to learn more about the on-going effort that is required to maintain these beloved trails and to get our oldest campers involved in this important work.”

High Peaks is a Burnsville-based hiking club that leads local hikes and maintains the trails on the Black Mountains. The group is also the official Friends of Mt. Mitchell State Park group. The High Peaks trail crew works in conjunction with Asheville-based Carolina Mountain Club’s Monday Crew, which has been led by Whitehouse for the past decade.

“It’s great to see young people enjoying our gorgeous natural surroundings here in Yancey County,” he said. “Both High Peaks and CMC try to engage youth with the outdoors so that coming generations will help us preserve and maintain our natural heritage. The Camp Celo campers have clearly embraced this outlook by volunteering to do badly-needed trail work.”

Photo caption: Campers from Camp Celo in the South Toe River Valley recently joined a Carolina Mountain Club/High Peaks trail crew to do rehabilitation work on the Colbert Ridge Trail. 

Trail crew at work