Appalachian Trail Conservancy


Sojourning on the Appalachian Trail

B.T. Fitzgerald and Bob Proudman

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 column.
Cutting a rafter (photo by Martyann Gutierrez)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. 
 Rausch Gap Shelter - almost completed (photo by Brian Swisher)
A slide show of the project is found at 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:

Boundary Blurb

Metal Tree Stand (photo by Tom Hurd)“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.
Wooden Tree Stand (photo by Tom Hurd)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

Alison ScheidererATC Land Protection Associate Alison Scheiderer
Land Protection Associate    
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
P.O. Box 807
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425


In This Issue
Pipeline Challenge 
Boundary Blurb 



Wear blaze orange

It's Hunting Season

Always wear blaze orange when working or hiking during hunting season. See ATC's 2012-2013 Hunting Season Guide for hunting season summaries for the 14 A.T. states and links to state regulations..

Discover the Appalachian Trail

... at a theater near you this fall. Help ATC raise awareness of the Appalachian Trail and gain the support of 750 new members in honor of the 75 years of  the Trail's existence. Every dollar raised will help preserve and manage the A.T.






 ATC's Biennial Conference

Join us July 19 - 26, 2013 in Cullowhee, NC for ATC's 38th membership conference. Check out our website for more information, watch the video, or volunteer! 

We hope to see you there.

Registration begins April 15, 2013.  

Photo courtesy of Jean Dickinson

Volunteer of the Month

Maggie Baker of Leeds, England, first learned of the Appalachian Trail in 2008 when searching for volunteer conservation work in the U.S. She worked on ATC’s Mid-Atlantic Trail Crew that year, and has volunteered on the Rocky Top Crew each year since. Learn more about Maggie here)

Upcoming Meetings

Mid-Atlantic Regional Partnership Committee
October 27, 2012
Harrisonburg, PA

ATC Board of Directors 
November 9-10, 2012
Shepherdstown, WV

New England Regional Partnership Committee
November 17, 2012
(Partnership Hike November 16)
Waterbury Center, VT

2013 Meetings

Mid-Atlantic Regional Partnership Committee
March 2-3, 2013

Southern Partnership Meeting
March 15-16, 2013

ATC Board of Directors
May 16-18

Biennial Conference
July 19-26
Cullowhee, NC

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

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