Bill WilkinsonBill Wilkinson, 2015 class, has surpassed the 250 lifetime volunteer hours.  Bill retired less than a year before taking the master naturalist class.

One of Bill Wilkinson’s first volunteer experiences, while in class, was assisting with roofing two buildings near the Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Bill was not interested in climbing ladders or going up on the roof, as he had hip replacement surgery a year or two earlier.  (Bill previously ran 11 miles a day, and has a sub 3-hour marathon to his credit.)  Bill opted to pick up roofing nails and construction debris on the ground.  He forgot to bring his stick with the magnetic end, which would make picking up nails far easier.  Instead, he bent down and picked up nails to aggravate seldom used muscles.  However, Bill went back a second day without his stick!

Bill found his true volunteer calling with the midweek crew (MWC).  The MWC is related to the Pathfinders/Greenways and is headed by Liz Belcher.  The MWC works Wednesday’s and is led, in the field, by a late 80 year old retired physician!

One of the main project Bill Wilkinson and the MWC were involved with, for the second half of 2015, was trail building and making the steps at the Roanoke River Overlook, which had the ribbon cutting ceremony in February 2016.  The steepness of the terrain and need to find or create a solid foundation to install steps often enabled them to only install three steps in a single day!  The MWC was working when temperatures were as low as 42, and perhaps lower!

Once this project was completed the MWC performed trail maintenance at Carvins Cove.  This project involved adding fill to a low trail, which collected ponding water.  It is too heavy to carry in gravel.  Instead, the MWC, like the trail builders on the Appalachian Trail, find rock near the work site and bash the large rocks with sledgehammers to make small rocks and gravel, called cribbing.

More than 2/3s of Bill’s volunteer hours have been trail building and maintaining – the real heavy lifting!

– Contributed by Brian Boggs