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
August 28–September 1
Konnarock Base Camp
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Sugar Grove, VA
Blackburn Trail Center
Round Hill, VA
Please contact Marian Orlousky at email@example.com
for more information or to enroll.
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."
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.
Photo by Maryland Natural Resources Police
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