After a long winter, the Soapstone Valley Trail received some much-needed care from Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) volunteers on Saturday, April 18th. The group, led by trail overseer Devin Rhinerson (whom we met last year), took on a number of ambitious projects with the goal of increasing the trail’s walkability for its many users.
Fifteen PATC volunteers split up and spent the afternoon repairing three staircases and two stream crossings.
The stairs proved to be the most challenging project of the afternoon. Winter storms made the once well-constructed stair sets difficult to traverse for even a skilled hiker. As a result, hikers and walkers had begun to avoid the staircase, accelerating erosion along the already fragile stream bank. Repairs required a hefty dose of sweat, sledgehammers, picks and shovels. Under the direction of Rhinerson and PATC veterans Jenny Libster, Karl Eiholzer and Mike Leyva, the crew completed the improvements in just under four hours.
Frequent hikers and walkers on Soapstone know that nature won’t let these improvements last for long though. The abundance of development and impermeable surfaces in and around the Soapstone Valley result in frequent flooding during heavy storms, so Devin and the crew will undoubtedly be back on the trail to address future problems in the weeks to come.
If you’d like to help out maintain trails in Rock Creek Park and the Soapstone Valley, email firstname.lastname@example.org.