Sojourning on the Appalachian Trail
By Bob Proudman and B.T. Fitzgerald
Among many reasons the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is remarkable is one that may be little appreciated by the general public: the system of more than 270 primitive overnight sites that allow hikers to “sojourn” on the Appalachian Trail for a weekend, a week, or for months at a time.
On the great pilgrimage between Springer Mountain and Katahdin, hikers will find a remarkable series of campsites and primitive three-sided shelters or lean-tos about a day’s hike apart across the 14 Trail states.
In 1975, Stanley A. Murray, then chair of ATC's Board, chose the word "sojourning" to describe that long walk: “The Appalachian Trail is a way, continuous from Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia, for travel on foot through the wild, scenic, wooded, pastoral and culturally significant lands of the Appalachian Mountains. It is a means of sojourning
among these lands, such that the visitors may experience them by their own unaided efforts.” [emphasis added]
While Trail maintainers who keep the footpath open and passable are frequently and justifiably lauded, today we want to commend the hundreds of skilled volunteers who build and maintain the Trail's amazing system of overnight shelters and campsites.
Despite Third World conditions (no electricity, standard plumbing, sewage treatment facilities, garbage collection, or vehicular access), shelter and overnight site caretakers build and maintain hundreds of sites from Georgia to Maine. In this issue, we highlight the project we first wrote about in the April 2011 Sidehill
On October 7, after nearly two years of labor, the Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club (BMECC) celebrated the total reconstruction of the Rausch Gap Shelter. About 40 members and guests, including Bob Proudman and ATC Regional Trail Resources Manager Bob Sickley, assembled at the shelter site and were welcomed by BMECC Vice President Scott Birchman and former president Martyann Gutierrez.
Led by Shelter Chair David Crosby, the club had planned to repair the original 1972 shelter, but found it rotten throughout when they started work. Undaunted, Crosby and his hardy band of volunteers reached out to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry who authorized the club to harvest rot-resistant larch (or tamarack) trees. The trees were transported to club property in Bernville, Pennsylvania, where the logs were peeled and the structure was meticulously prefabricated. It was then taken apart and reconstructed on-site once the old shelter was torn down and the foundation prepared.
A slide show of the project is found at http://www.bmecc.org/rausch_gap_work.html
. The pictures illustrate better than words the dimensions of this accomplishment and the 2,700 hours of volunteers’ time it took.
We extend our congratulations to BMECC, Dave Crosby, and to all shelter overseers! Your amazing work is deeply appreciated by ATC and the hikers who sojourn on the Trail.
Bob Proudman is director of conservation operations
B.T. Fitzgerald is chair of the stewardship council
Conservationists Challenge Powerline in Court
On October 15, a coalition of conservation groups, including the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, filed suit in federal court challenging the approval by the National Park Service of the 500-kilovolt (kV) Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line. The massive line would cross the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River, and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
The suit challenges NPS’s approval of the transmission line as a violation of the National Park Service Organic Act and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and points to deficiencies in the agency’s required environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act. “We continue to be concerned that the impacts to the scenic values of these national treasures have not been adequately addressed during the environmental review process,” said ATC Executive Director Mark Wenger.
More information can be found in this press release: http://gallery.mailchimp.com/64f18e8ab0289e37511640181/files/Conservation_Groups_Challenge_Powerline.pdf
“You have 30 days to remove the tree stand. After 30 days, you will be subject to fines and property forfeiture.”
That National Park Service notice was posted by Batona Hiking Club corridor monitor Tom Hurd on nine different deer stands in April. The stands were attached to trees on NPS lands in the A.T. corridor in Pennsylvania and had been reported by Tom in February.
In June, ATC Boundary Technician Nicole Wooten and I spent two days accompanying Tom to the sites, prepared to make good on the threat to remove the stands. Although Tom had used GPS to record their locations so we could navigate directly to them, no one was anticipating an easy day. The temperature was approaching 100 degrees, and, with packs already weighed down by sledgehammers, crowbars, and screwdrivers, we also were anticipating packing out several metal tree stands.
It was a welcome discovery to find that the notices had convinced several tree-stand owners to do the work. Of the eight locations we visited, the five metal stands, which were most likely to have been used recently, had been removed. With the help of ridgerunner Matt Morde, we dismantled and destroyed the three old wooden stands that remained.
We extend our thanks to Tom and the Batona Hiking Club for regularly recording, reporting, and following up on the encroachments that they find in their section.
Does your boundary section have deer stands? Do you need a copy of the “Deer Stand Notice” or “No Hunting” signs? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org