Appalachian Trail Conservancy

SidehillBeth Critton and Bob Proudman
ATC's First Master of Leave No Trace?  

By Bob Proudman and Beth Critton

Myron Avery, who chaired ATC from June 1931 until a few weeks before his death in 1952, published “A Message to Those Who Walk in the Woods” in the late 1930s, a persuasive appeal with prophetic undertones.

He expressed concerns that "instances of thoughtless and irresponsible conduct” might mean that "users of trails and those who walk in the woods will inevitably find the areas and opportunities for their recreation very considerably restricted." 

Then, Avery was concerned that privately owned lands across which trails were often routed, particularly in the northeastern states, might be closed to all due to the actions of a few.

Today, irresponsible conduct by some A.T. hikers may result in unhappy Trail neighbors, fewer families on the Trail, and more regulations and closures. 

Although best practices in the backcountry have changed from that era to today, many of Avery's concerns, including trash disposal, vandalism, food storage, fires, and individual responsibility, are still valid, while other issues, such as marijuana use, have arisen.  

Human misbehavior is a dismal constant—and when there is an impact on the Trail and the Trail experience, ATC, the Trail clubs, and our agency partners need to respond.

As our first “leave no trace master” taught, we also need to encourage hikers to "aid this campaign by your personal example" and to "urge compliance by others." Peer pressure may be an effective means of reducing some actions, such as using markers to “tag” shelters or signs, now seen by too many as part of the culture of long-distance hiking.

With this fall’s release of the Robert Redford film A Walk in the Woods, we anticipate an even greater increase in the number of Trail users in 2016 and beyond. Promoting Leave No Trace and individual responsibility among those users is a high priority. 

Thanks to Jeff Owenby, director of the Forest Service’s Cradle of Forestry who scanned and shared a copy of Avery's pamphlet with ATC Southern Regional Director Morgan Sommerville. 

Beth Critton is Chair of the Stewardship Council
Bob Proudman is Director of Conservation Operations


Leave No Trace Master Educator Courses

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is offering two Leave No Trace Master Educator courses this year exclusively for Appalachian Trail volunteers, Trail club and ATC members, and agency partners. The courses will be held in Virginia and cost $400, half off the usual price.

Over the course of five days on the A.T., participants will gain an in-depth understanding of the “why” behind the seven principles of Leave No Trace and explore their personal backcountry ethics with fellow A.T. stewards and outdoor professionals. The course will include three nights of camping along the Trail.

Graduates of the course are qualified to lead two-day Leave No Trace Trainer courses and awareness courses (one-day or shorter). They will receive a one-year, complimentary membership to the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, giving them better access to teaching resources and closer contact with the Center for education, training, and outreach questions.

Leave No Trace Master Educator Courses

Southwest Virginia
August 28–September 1
Konnarock Base Camp 
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Sugar Grove, VA

Northern Virginia
September 14–18
Blackburn Trail Center
Round Hill, VA

Please contact Marian Orlousky at for more information or to enroll. 

Quiz Correction

In last month’s A.T. history quiz, Bob Proudman stated that the Adirondack Mountain Club was the correct answer to question number 3:
3. The very first six miles of the A.T. built in 1922 between Fingerboard Mountain and Bear Mountain in New York was laid out and installed by the: 
a) Appalachian Mountain Club
b) Adirondack Mountain Club
c) New York-New Jersey Trail Conference
d) Bear Mountain-Harriman State Park

Bob's source was the recently completed documentation nominating the A.T. to the National Register of Historic Places, which states, “Torrey and J. Ashton Allis of the NY-NJ Trail Conference with Palisades Interstate Park Commission’s William A. Welch scouted the first new section of the A.T. from the Ramapo River to Fingerboard Mountain in Harriman-Bear Mountain State Park in the spring of 1922 and volunteers from the Adirondack Mountain Club, which was founded in December 1922 for the purpose of constructing and maintaining hiking trails in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, had completed the first 6 miles by the time of the meeting."  
NY-NJ TC logo
However, New York-New Jersey Trail Conference Deputy Executive Director Josh Howard wrote to ATC in response to our answer, saying “Under the leadership of the [New York-New Jersey] Trail Conference’s Chairman Major Welch, member clubs of the Trail Conference built the first section of the A.T., which he and Allis had laid out. Meade C. Dobson, who founded the ADK in 1921, was present at our first meeting in 1920… [ADK] participated in building the first section, but as a Trail Conference member club.

“The Trail Conference is VERY proud of its role and history with the A.T. and doesn’t want it rewritten.” 

Thank you, Josh. We stand corrected.

Washington Monument
Photo by Maryland Natural Resources Police           
Lightning Strikes

During a thunderstorm at Washington Monument State Park in Maryland on June 18, three A.T. hikers were sheltering inside the base of the stone monument when it was struck by lightning. The impact threw them out of the structure. One of them received a head injury and was treated at a local hospital. The monument was closed by the state department of natural resources to inspect damage to the 188-year-old structure (see article).

According to the National Weather Service, lightning kills an average of 49 people in the United States each year, and hundreds more are severely injured. Keep an eye on the sky and listen for thunder - if you can hear it, lightning is close enough to strike, no matter how many seconds elapse between the lightning and the sound of thunder. Lightning strikes even can occur out of clear skies and with no warning of thunder.

Enclosed buildings or automobiles are the safest places to be during a lightning storm. Open structures (including A.T. shelters), caves, or rock overhangs do not protect against lightning. If you can't reach safe shelter, move quickly to lower ground. Avoid heights (including ridgelines), open areas, exposed overlooks, single trees, and bodies of water. If with a group, spread out to minimize multiple injuries from a single strike.

Learn more about lightning from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
ATC's Biennial Conference
July 1 is the deadline to register in advance for the July 17-24 conference. You may register onsite as space is available for activities and workshops.

There is no cost to attend ATC's business meeting on Saturday, July 18 at 8:00 p.m. ATC's Board of Directors will be elected to two-year terms and long-time A.T. volunteers will be honored at that meeting

ATC members are encouraged to attend - we hope to see you there!

Find out more at
Take Precautions Against Ticks
Take precautions against ticks while out working or hiking. Lyme disease has been found in nearly every state and is endemic to much of the Trail, particularly in the mid-Atlantic region, Connecticut, and New York. Other serious diseases may be transmitted by ticks and may have serious health effects.

 - Wear long pants tucked into socks (light colored clothing makes it easier to spot ticks).

- Spray clothes and boots/shoes with permethrin.

- Use DEET on exposed skin.

- Check yourself and companions frequently for ticks while in the field.

- Shower and make a thorough check for ticks when you return home.


Subscribe to The Register

First published in April 1978, The Register is intended for Appalachian Trail volunteers, their agency partners, and others interested in the stewardship of the Trail. 

Subscribe to The Register (and other ATC newsletters) at  or send a message to with "subscribe" in the subject line and with your first and last name and e-mail address in the body of the message. 

Please forward this issue or provide this information to anyone who might be interested in subscribing. 

(Photo above by Sean Waugh NOAA/NSSL)
Lightning Safety for Campers and Hikers

According to the National Weather Service, June, July, and August are the most common months for lightning strikes.If you are out on the Trail during a thunderstorm and can't get to an enclosed building or a vehicle, take these precautions:

AVOID: Avoid water. Avoid all metallic objects. Avoid the high ground. Avoid solitary tall trees. Avoid close contact with others - spread out 15-20 ft. apart. Avoid contact with dissimilar objects (water & land; boat & land; rock & ground; tree & ground). Avoid open spaces.

SEEK: Seek clumps of shrubs or trees of uniform height. Seek ditches, trenches or the low ground. Seek a low, crouching position with feet together with hands on ears to minimize acoustic shock from thunder.

KEEP: Keep a high level of safety awareness for thirty minutes after the last observed lightning or thunder.

See the full article by Richard Kithil of the National Lightning Safety Institute here.

No Pulaski Needed... 

to dig into ATC's Volunteer Toolkit. 

Just go to, where you'll find information on Trail maintenance and management, workshop opportunities (including certified sawyer workshops),  boundary resources, back issues of The Register, and more.

Volunteer of the Month

Over the past six months, Collin Breheny has been developing a pilot youth-crew program for ATC’s Konnarock Trail Crew.

It will provide young people ages 14 to 17 with outdoor opportunities and hands-on environmental education, while also looking to the future of ATC’s volunteer Trail crews.

Read more about Collin here)

2015 ATC Meetings

ATC Biennial Conference
July 17–24
Winchester, VA

ATC Business Meeting
July 18
Winchester, VA

ATC Stewardship Council
November 10–13
Buckeystown, MD

ATC Board of Directors
November 12-13
Buckeystown, MD

The Register  is published by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for the volunteers of the Appalachian Trail, their agency partners, and others interested in the stewardship of the Trail.

Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trailensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. To become a member, volunteer, or learn more, visit
Our mailing address is:
ATC Headquarters
799 Washington St, PO Box 807
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425

Copyright © 2015  |  All rights reserved.