Taconic Crew

 Trail Crew Trips: Summer 2015

Join our Trail Crew working on trails on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.

Photo: Jerrica Lavooy 

October 9th - 10th Taconic "Off Beats" LogTaconic Crew

In our last 2 days on the trail we had 55 volunteers come out and help us finish Appalachian Way. Shout out to Mashable and Marist. As our last day comes to an end we would like to thank all the volunteers that came out with us this season. Congratulations guys and girls you made our trail officially connect as an access trail to the Appalachian Trail! Peace out and may the trails take you to wonderful far away places. See you on the trail! 

October 2nd - 5th Taconic "Off Beats" Log

"I can't believe we are almost done."

It seems like it was just yesterday when we began our first day in Fahnestock State Park on Appalachian Way. Our trail has been full of surprises and it is hard to believe we are starting to wrap things up. We have been battling an extremely tough section against bedrock after crossing our stepping stone bog. However, after this last technical section we can finally say we have completed our segment towards the Appalachian Trail. With help from all of our volunteers we have managed to build 1,766 ft of new trail, 52 stone stairs, and 61 gargoyles. Here are a couple of shots of some of our achievements this season.

It's a path!

up the hill!oh yeahstairs for daysits fall time


September 25th - 28th Taconic "Off Beats" Logtaconic crew getting 'schwifty'

This week on the trail, your taconic hedgehogs rolled and rolled until we were able to launch at a spectacular rate through the Appalachian way. All major, necessary construction on the trail is done! 

Celebrating the completion of Appalachian Way's last major construction project

Our speed and skill on Appalachian way left us in a bit of a quandry when six West Point cadets wanted to come give back to the trails on Saturday for National Public Lands day. However, the taconic crew is never flummoxed! We went out to the Highlands trail to test their mettle, and they surpassed even our wildest expectations! With minimal intruction and only eight hours in the day, the West Pointers were able to sidehill 357 and a half feet! Though your intrepid reporter hasn't been able to confirm this in his research, he believes this to be an all time trail building record! Hat's off to the men and women of the military! Until next week, this is Your Taconic crew, signing off.

West pointers rogue hoein'

The West Point cadets sidehilling

September 18th - 21st Taconic "Off Beats" Log

This week on the trail, we were joined by the Jolly Rovers crew. Their talent, efficency, and numbers meant they were too much for Appalachian way, so we took them over to the Highlands trail, an as yet non-existent trail that will one day connect to the Lone Star. They took a boulder field, worked their magic, and left with a pleasant and meandering rock walking surface. Meanwhile, your Taconic Tigers held a Trail U with brave souls Gene Wiggins, Dan Rebbel, and Alex Garcia. They banged out nearly 200 feet of sidehill through some rock craziness. 

Come monday your Taconic Tigers found themselves alone again (as is a tiger's natural state). So we mozied on back to Fahnestock, and threw some rocks into a bog. Well, first we stood in and dug out a bog. Our shoes and tools squished and kwwwarched through the muck and into the clay, where we were able to place not one, but two big rocks, so that when you come out to hike our trail you'll skip as gracefully as we didn't over that bog. Can't wait for next week? Neither can we!

Setting up Sling

Jolly Rovers setting up a pulley

learning to sidehill

Dan Rebbel and Alex Garcia learning to sidehill

The whole crew!

The whole crew at the Highlands Trail

September 11th - 14th Taconic "Off Beats" Log

This week on the trail we made a lot of progress on the beginning section of our trail. We got a lot of sidehilling done by removing excess rocks in the trail and using some of them as stairs. Shout out to our volunteers: Cody Mendoza (from the Invasives Crew), Kyle Walker, and Chris's brother Jake Bush. We moved a giant rock and it would have not been possible without the help from them. A thundershower passed over us one day this week. The last time it rained on us was in June and our trail really needed to have that moisture to set properly. This coming week we will be at the Highlands Trail, come out and join us! 

we moved it! 

The biggest rock we moved.


Volunteers Jake Bush, and Kyle Walker taking a break after moving the massive rock.

September 4th - 6th Taconic "Off Beats" Log

Happy Labor Day from the Taconic Crew! This has been a shorter week on the trail but busy none the less. Volunteers John Hodgson and Lindsay Sheldon came out again and helped us naturalize the trail by clearing duff, getting rid of excess rocks, and spreading leaves near the edge of the trail. We are proud to say that we finally connected up to the Appalachian Trail. We hung up blue blazes throughout our trail and saw a nice turn out of hikers on our Appalachian Way. The only thing left for us on Appalachian Way is the very beginning section to get hikers off the old, slippery carriage road and up onto the hill away from the murkyness. This is going to be a challenging section but it is nothing we cannot handle. We are into the last weeks of the season so come out and help us finish the trail!

August 28th - 31st Taconic "Off Beats" Log

Brought to you by Fahnestock State Park the Taconic Tigers save the trail from erosion by putting in more waterbars. Stairs were installed to relieve peoples knees from the treacherous trail that we've already accomplished. We also took on bedrock with our handy drill and conquered it little by little slowly picking at it's soul. Duff was moved and we covered the old trail like a blanket to restore what had been lost.

Drilling into bedrock

Rebecca and Matt drilling into bedrock creating a platform for snowshoers

August 21st - 24th Taconic "Off Beats" Log

This week on the Appalachian Way, we finished up our stone stairs section. A waterbar in between the two sections separated each staircase. Each staircase had 6 steps and 12 gargoyles, bringing our total number to 12 stairs and 24 gargoyles. Both staircases had its own unique challenges. We topped off each staircase by adding mineral soil to them, creating a beautiful, finished product.

Creating a staircase

Jake and Chris working on the lower staircase


all finished

The first staircase was built right against bedrock and was tough fitting the steps and gargoyles against it.

carefully placed in between roots

The second staircase had steps placed inbetween roots from a big tree.

August 14th - 17th Taconic "Off Beats" Log

The Appalachian Way trail never stops surprising. And this week held some doozies. We prepped for our Trail U in which volunteers learned how to put in stone stairs. This could be tricky, especially when trying to place a rock in between two tree roots. With the help from Erik, our field manager, we set up a belay system and essentially craned the rock in place, keeping the roots unscathed. Later in the week we had a huge volunteer turn out. On monday alone, twelve volunteers and the Palisades crew helped us on the trail. With the help of our volunteers, our plan for the Appalachian Way in Fahnestock Winter Park is nearing completion.

having a ball

Chris Bush and John Hodgson


having a good time

Intern group from the Bronx clearing the duff


sidehilling is fun

Interns learning how to sidehill

August 7th - August 10th Taconic "Off Beats" Log

This week we tried to answer the age old question: how many chips with a tiny chisel does it take to carve steps into a mountain? The answer: too many, so we're going to get a rotary hammer (a 'mini jack hammer' with which we will blast some rocks--it's gonna be fun). 

Taconic volunteer of the season Gene Wiggins came out for a few days and helped Crew Leader Chris Bush install a stair set, including a gargoyle big enough to blot out the sun. Meanwhile, not very far away, the remaining taconicers were learning to belay. Now, the belay part of belaying is not that hard. But, it turns out, for being immobile inanimate objects, rocks are awfully wiley, and getting the rock wrapped for the belay took most of our efforts. Now we are confident that, should a rock ever need to be moved slowly down a steep hill, the combined efforts of Your Taconic Crew will handle the job. 

Stairs for days

Gene moving gargoyle for the stair set



Working hard makes the trail look nice

July 31st - August 3rd Taconic "Off Beats" Log

Well, it's been a crazy week here on the Appalachian Way. We corridor cleared and sidehilled all the way up to the AT. Through hikers now have two fully functioning trails to a snack bar, showers, and beautiful, scenic Canopus lake! Later in the week, we tackled the dreaded crib wall. With breaks for naturalizing, we hauled, fiddled with, hauled, and fiddled more with rock after rock after rock. Crib wall is like a giant jigg saw puzzle where you have to find or make your own pieces, but find and make them we did! 

steve clearing the corridor

Steve Buja, one of Taconic's MVVs (most valuable volunteers) clearing corridor and having a ball!


Gene making crush

Another of Taconic's MVVs, Gene Wiggins, "crushing it!"

Chris getting at that crib wall

Crew leader Chris "The Bush" Bush building some crib wall

Crib wall

The crib wall is real, and it's spectacular

whole crew (useful edition)

Taconic crew taking a well deserved rest

July 24th - 27th Taconic "Off Beats" Log

On the trail this week we focused mainly on restoring and re-vegging our completed sections. We took a pair of clippers and snipped the toe-tripping roots in the trail. We also took out the organic material, rocks, and logs that were on the side of the tread and carried it over to the old trail to block off the way. Antonio Gines volunteered his time along with the Palisades crew to help us tidy up the trail. The Appalachian Way is starting to look sharp and it is exciting to see how far it has come. Aside from restoring the trail, we also pushed through into a new section. We cleared the cooridor and began side-hilling with the help from Tim Messerich, a RPH member. We are getting closer and closer to the Appalachian Trail, but there is still much to be done.

Checking levels

Erik and Tim Messerich checking the level for a stair

July 17th - 20th Taconic "Off Beats" Log

This week we were at a new location. We began work on the Wilkenson trail, the yellow marked trail for the infamous Breakneck Ridge loop. Hurricanes and other huge storms eroded this section of trail overtime and a very steep trail was put in its place as a temporary solution. Our task now is to push the trail through a waterfall-esque stream and acsend up on the hill to connect back further down. This will be much easier on the knees for the hiker and bring them to a nice waterfall area. We also had a Trail U workshop this week at Wilkenson where we taught volunteer Peg Cummins the process of putting in stepping stones. We used a directional system for the griphoist to move the rocks into the proper place. We were very greatful to have her with us and look forward to seeing her again soon.

Using a directional

Directional Griphoist flow


Wilkenson after an ends day

Your Taconic "Off Beats" after an ends day

July 10th - 13th Taconic "Off Beats" Log

It's back to work at Fahnestock State Park. This week we covered a lot of ground on our trail with help from the Palisades Crew and some more Volunteers. Appalachian Way is coming along nicely and we have almost punched through to the old trail. This week, our field manager Erik came with a hammer drill and generator to teach us how to split a rock to make stairs. It was exciting to use our first power tool on the trail and helped us tremendously save time. Currently we are waiting on approval to continue towards the Appalachian Trail, but we couldn't have made it this far so quickly without the help from everyone.

making stairs

 Matt Simonelli and volunteer Steve Walker drilling a rock to make stairs


cutting tread

Taconic Crew digging tread

July 4th - 6th Taconic "Off Beats" Log

Happy 4th of July everyone! All of the AmeriCorps crews had a nice break for Independence Day. Every year on the 4th there is a firework show at the Bear Mountain Inn. The Megalithic Trail crew that works on the upper east side of bear mountain planned a nice outing for us to have a spectacular view of the fireworks. It was a nice night to remember with great friends.

sparklers for the win


June 26th - 29th Taconic "Off Beats" Log

Braving the weather! We strung up a tarp over an area to protect us from the heavy rain where we had our Trail U. The Trail U this week covered Armoring and paving. Volunteer Daniele Luzzo came out and learned the process that goes into dry stone masonry.

shaping stones

Daniele and Erik shaping stones for the cribwall 


Setting a stonemoving stones
















Matt and Daniele setting a rock                                                        Daniele using a griphoist


Later in the week, Will McGee volunteered his time to come out and help our team sidehill. Will helped us continue through a tough root section on the trail. We ended up building a lot of trail this week and it was a huge help having the extra manpower from our volunteers. We hope you guys can come back soon!

cutting tread

Will McGee sidehilling


June 18th - 22nd 2015 Taconic "Off Beats" Log

It was another great week out on the trail!  Our first section of Applachian Way is coming together beautifully with a mixed bag of sidehilling, step construction, and paving. We've entered into a new rocky section. A lot of duff digging and rock removal ensued as we continue down the trail. See you next week!

On the stone pavers



June 12th - 15th 2015 Taconic Crew "Off Beats" Log


Getting things done!  It feels good to say it!  This week, our Appalachian Way reroute is starting to take shape.  We've been struggling with some challenging rock sections, but with some mechanical advantage and perserverance we'v been able to construct some beautiful, sustainable trail.

Rigging We've been relying on rockbars and brute strength, but sometimes you need to use a Griphoist to move things along.


Rock work can be a real drag.....hehe.... Here we are laying the last stone in our first of two large paving sections.


June 5th - June 8th 2015 Taconic Crew "Off Beats" Log

One morning we hiked up Anthony's nose right across from the Bear Mountain bridge. We recruited some more volunteers to help us with our trail work in Fahnestock State Park.

Matt and Rebecca taking in the view

Can't beat that view!


Our main goal this past week was to connect our incomplete sections together but we still need to add some finishing touches on the trail. We are also greatful for the Fahnestock state park service that stopped by our trail and cut the fallen trees blocking our path. We can now continue to sidehill and join the other parts of our trail.


We are half way done with a staircase on our trail! Moving some of these stones in place had to take all four of us with rock bars and pickaxes to set them. These stones are set and smaller rocks are then crushed underneath to keep the step from moving. These steps should stay in the earth and preserve the land from any erosion that could happen in the future. Stay tuned for next weeks update!


May 29th - June 1st 2015 Taconic Crew "Off Beats" Log

This week we continued our work in Fahnestock State Park on the Appalachian Way Access Trail. We would like to give a shout out to our first volunteer, L Nichols, for hanging out with us in the sticky weather to help us with armoring and paving. We can't wait for him to come out and join us again!

Taconic Crew Overlook

Also this week we scaled the notorious Breakneck Ridge for volunteer recruitment. Breakneck is a challenging and exciting rock scramble to many viewpoints overlooking the Hudson River. The view is truly breathtaking. Along our journey we answered many questions from hikers, aided them in their climb, and also met some volunteer hopefuls. Keep reading for future updates!


May 21th - 25th 2015 Taconic Crew "Off Beats" Log

Life is cool, life is sweet, we are the Taconic Off Beats!

This was our first week at our job site in Fahnestock State Park. The park has a beautiful sandy beach next to Canopus Lake fitting for barbeques and many outdoor recreational activities. We learned that we are continuing last years project on the Appalachian Way access trail on the other side of the lake. This week, The Long Path and Palisades crew helped us remove duff, quarry rocks, sidehill, and lay a landing stone. We were thankful to have the extra help from the other crews, and we are excited for new volunteers to come out and join us.

Appalachian Way Sidehilling

Appalachian Way Sidehilling

 Chris Bush and Matt Simonelli


May 14th - 18th 2015 Taconic Crew Log

This was our final week of training! We were working on the Trails for People project near the Bear Mountain Inn with a picturesque lake in the background. The weather held out for us while we dragged rocks using a griphoist and highline system. Our project was to create a crib wall for the Appalachian Trail at the base of the mountain making it clearer to follow. There were hundreds of people at the Bear Mountain Inn Park having barbeques and enjoying the day. We appreciated meeting hikers as much as they appreciated our work. We are all looking forward to a successful season.

Crushing Rock for the Crib Wall

Crushing Rock for Trails for People

From left to right: Rebecca Radtke (Taconic Crew) Joe Knight (Bear Mtn) Altyn Chiang (Volunteer) and Mike Betros (Bear Mtn)


May 7th - 11th 2015 Taconic Crew Log

This was an exciting week for the new 2015 AmeriCorps members. Fifteen eager faces began their field work on top of Bear Mountain, at the Perkins Memorial Drive Cul-de-sac. Everyone was thrilled to be out in the sun with a beautiful scenic overlook of the surrounding Harriman Mountains. We learned proper techniques on key tools like the rock bar and pickaxe, letting us move stones that weigh upwards of two thousand pounds! We planned our layout, took measurements, and dug and crushed rock to lay the stairs into place. The goal is to keep these steps as a re-route of the Appalachian Trail for hundreds of years to come. This is the start of an exciting season with people who know how to work and have fun while doing it. Stay tuned!

Taconic Crew Base Step

Your 2015 Taconic Crew

From left to right: Jake Rawdin, Rebecca Radtke, Chris Bush, Matt Simonelli


Crew Updates

Stay tuned for updates from the field!

Read all about the Taconic Crew's 2014 projects in last year's work log.





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