GNSS receivers withstand harsh winter conditions in Cumberland Trail survey project

In Winter 2010, Leica’s Viva GNSS receivers and integrated surveying system played key roles in a boundary survey that added a lengthy section to Tennessee’s nearly-finished Cumberland Trail.

Working in extremely harsh winter conditions —during the 11 weeks of the survey, average daytime temperatures were below freezing, and surveyors endured more than 60 inches of snow and rain — the RLS Group, based in Chattanooga, Tenn., was able to survey 19 miles of trail corridor. The survey was completed on schedule, with no equipment breakdowns.

The project was done in winter to take advantage of reduced foliage and snake hibernation. Because the descriptions of underlying parcels called to ridgelines and other natural features, surveyors knew they would be working in areas with minimal sight lines and that good GNSS equipment was required.

“With all the one-to-one slopes out here, and the snow cover and the brush, traversing with total stations would have been ridiculous,” says RLS President Shane Loyd, PLS. “Fortunately, the Viva GNSS system really came through for us. We put it to the test and we were quite impressed by the reliability, accuracy and durability of the equipment.”

Since part of the job was to create and mark the corridor on the fly, crews used the Viva controllers and cellular links to upload data to an FTP site at the end of workdays. RLS office technicians downloaded the data and calculated alignments, then uploaded alignments to direct the next day’s staking. “We could have done the calcs in the field,” says Loyd, “but that would really have cut into the time available for survey work and camping chores. The cellular links and Viva’s intuitive dataflow management worked very well for us and made life a lot easier.”

The Cumberland Trail will eventually total more than 300 miles of wilderness trail, and stretch from Cumberland Gap National Park to Chattanooga. Leica Geosystems is proud to be part of this historically important project, and that the Viva system came through for surveyors in extremely challenging conditions.

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Article and photo contributed by Leica Geosystems