Friday, October 31, 2008

Rails to Trails to the Appalachian Trail

Christopher Baxter of the Allentown (PA) Morning Call reports that Pennsylvania's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has granted $200,000 to Palmer Township in order to convert about 1 mile of railroad to trail. This adds to "a very extensive bike path system" in the township. Eventually, "local officials plan to extend the path in the future to connect to the Appalachian Trail." The article's 31 October 2008 headline is "Palmer gets $200,000 to extend rail-to-trail bicycle path; State grant will pay for a one-mile addition to system."

The same news appeared in the Allentown Morning Call on 30 October under the headline "Bushkill Creek bike path will be finished."

The report on this appearing on something called the SYS-CON web site reports "from the wires" under the headline "Pennsylvania DCNR Awards $283,000 for Outdoor Recreation, Open Space in Northampton County" in more detail. For example, there we read that the Keystone Fund grant is to
"Palmer Township, $200,000, to include the construction and installation of a paved trail, new decking on three bridges, signage and landscaping. This a part of a much larger system of greenways trails planned in Northampton County stretching from the Appalachian Trail to the Delaware River Trail".

A related editorial in the 30 October 2008Reading (PA) Eagle opines that trails are good, but have to be done right. And they offer an example of one that apparently was done poorly. Under the headline "Critical connection is people, not trails" they say
"The recent case of the ill-fated Hay Creek Trail shows what can happen even to a laudable idea when poorly executed. The proposed 9.7-mile trail would have wound southward from the Thun Trail near Birdsboro, through Union, Robeson and Caernarvon townships and New Morgan, following an abandoned railroad bed. It would have connected to the 140-mile Horseshoe Trail, which runs from Valley Forge to the Appalachian Trail in Dauphin County."
BUT the planning process took so long that when the work was finally to start "it had likely slipped the minds of the property owners." And pretty much died.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Maryland A.T. Shelter Work

Erin Cunningham's article in the 27 October 2008 issue of the Hagerstown (MD) Morning Herald-Mail describes the restoration of the Appalachian Trail's Rocky Run Shelter "about one mile off Reno Monument Road in the Boonsboro area." The article is titled "Rocky Run Shelter on Appalachian Trail restored." Maryland Park Service Ranger Tammy McCorkle is quoted several times explaining the historic nature of the 6 person shelter.

Potomac Appalachian Trail Club volunteers did that work as well as building a 16-person shelter nearby "from a 'log kit'."

Maintainer Dave Jordahl Profiled

Trail maintainer Dave Jordahl from the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club is profiled in the 27 October 2008 article "Volunteer keeps trails clear and footworthy" by Stephanie Miot in the Frederick (MD) News-Post.

The article describes his work clearing blow-downs, building water bars, and all the rest. While he usually has 2 or 3 volunteers with him, the day of the reporter's visit, he was working alone.

Good story!

Maintainers / Volunteers Repair Bridge

Heather Stauffer reports in the 27 October 2008 Carlisle (PA) Sentinel that "Mt. Holly bridge project shows Appalachian spirit." That is, she describes the volunteer crew effort to replace a bridge in Mt. Holly Springs, PA.

ATC staffer Ted Martello is quoted extensively through the article. He explains that the team used two gypsy moth infested white oak trees to form the base of the bridge. They used 27 foot sections that were about 15 inches in diameter. The planking was hauled in form the road. Thanks, folks!

(This story is also reported, with different quotes and details shared, under the headline "Group replaces Appalachian Trail bridge in Mt. Holly," also in the Carlisle Sentinel, also by Holly Stauffer, also on 27 October. Go figure.)

Hike the Trail - See the Colors

A portion of the Appalachian Trail's Pennsylvania footpath and its vistas are highlighted in the 25 October 2008 issue of the Reading (PA) Eagle. See the "Peak performance for fall foliage in Berks County" article by Elizabeth Giorgi.

Martyann Gutierrez, president of the Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club, specifically recommends the A.T. in Berks County, PA, along about "Pulpit Rock and the Pinnacle located just off the trail" for views of fine fall colors.

Trees in New Orleans Tied to Trail

The Associated Press is reporting on WXVT-TV Delta News - on 28 October 2008 - under the headline "Group to hit tree planting goal in N.O." that
"Hike for KaTREEna is the not-for-profit started by Monique Pilie. After Katrina, she hiked the Appalachian Trail and pledged to plant one tree in the city for each of the 2,175 miles she hiked.

"That last tree is set to be planted Thursday afternoon."
We reported on this earlier on, back when Pilie was hiking.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lost and Found

WFMZ-TV has a story titled "Search Ends Successfully on Blue Mountain" on its web site from 26 October 2008 that recounts the discovery of "a 42-year-old woman and her dog were [who] rescued around midnight after being lost on Blue Mountain for about 10 hours." The searchers used thermal imaging to locate her, spotting her when she flicked a lighter. [An earlier version of the story included the line: "Officials say the woman called emergency officials on her cell phone and said she and her daughter were lost on the Appalachian Trail."]

The same story appears in the Pottsville (PA) Republican & Herald newspaper on 27 October in an unsigned article headlined "Rescuers find woman who became lost hiking." It adds that the woman had phoned for help when she realized she was lost, but her phone later lost its signal. About 60 rescuers aided in the 4 hour search.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Trails Connecting to the Trail

Parsippany, New Jersey's Daily Record of 26 October 2008 has an article titled "Effort to link Mount Olive trails beyond N.J. borders set to begin; New network's starting point: Turkey Brook Park" by Meghan Van Dyk that mentions the Appalachian Trail.

Township officials are starting work on a local trail system that will mean
"Hikers one day may be able to start a trek to explore the sites along the ridges of the Appalachian Mountains in Georgia or the peaks of Mount Katahdin in Maine right from their backyards in the township's Turkey Brook Park."
That's always something that gives me pause when I stop to think that I could keep on walking this or that trail I'm on and eventually connect up with the A.T. and then make my way to Springer or Katahdin -- given enough time, of course.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

SO-BO "Long John" and "Casey Jones" Near Completion

Greeneville, Tennessee resident John Stone graduated from high school this spring and made the decision to hike the Appalachian Trail southbound. He started on 6 June. As of 25 October 2008 - the date of the "Local Hiker Treks 1,700 Miles Along The Appalachian Trail" article by Nelson Morais in the Greeneville Sun -- he had made it as far south as Roan Mountain.

Stone was taking a week or so off to refuel at home (with hiking buddy Nathan Karcz from Virginia). The pair was heading back to the Trail, aiming to finish at Springer about 14 November.

Stone "said he budgeted $4,000 for the trip, but so far, for food, lodging and equipment replacement costs, he said he has spent close to $6,000."

Ed "Raccoon" Benton Summits in September

The Anniston (AL) Star for 25 October 2008 has a photo and report of the successful thru-hike by Golden Springs, AL resident Ed Benton. It's under the headline "Hiking the Appalachian Trail."

Benton hiked from 22 March--25 September. He "was recognized recently by members of his church, Greenbrier Church of Christ, who presented Benton with an engraved rustic plaque with his trail name, Raccoon." Benton's wife Cathy joined him from time to time and was given the trailname "Lipstick."

Was Hiker, Now Gardener

The Northern Virginia Daily, out of Strasburg, Virginia, has a 24 October 2008 article about a local couple's wildlife habitat gardening. It's by Sally Voth, and titled "Collective habitat: Couple turn their yard into a home for wildlife."

Kimberley and Andrew Fisher are their names. And, "The Fishers, who met 10 years ago when the Englishman was hiking the Appalachian Trail and she picked him up and drove him into town, strive to make their 3 acres as wildlife friendly as possible. ...The couple, both avid gardeners who married on the Appalachian Trail about 4 1/2 years ago, have only been in their home about a year."

Friday, October 24, 2008

International A.T. Talk Given

"Paul Wylezol, chair of the International Appalachian Trail Newfoundland and Labrador, and Arne Helgeland, chair of the Bay of Islands section, spoke to members of the Corner Brook Rotary Club" on 23 October. All that according to the article titled "Rotarians get a visual update on Appalachian trail work" by Cory Hurley in the 24 October 2008 issue of the Western Star newspaper out of Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Loduska Patel Completes Thru-Hike

The Eufala (AL) Tribune from 22 October 2008 carries a brief note by Anastasia Harbuck titled "Owner, dog team completes Appalachian Trail."

The team members were Loduska Patel and her dog Luna. At the top of the note is a picture of the pair exchanging a high five on top of Katahdin, at the sign.

The teaser promises more in a longer article in the weekend edition.

The Homeplace, Catawba, Virginia

Remember eating at 'The Homeplace' in Virginia? There's a very favorable review of the Catawba, VA restaurant in the 22 October 2008 Collegiate Times under the headline "The Homeplace dishes out classic Southern cookin'." (Collegiate Times is owned by the Educational Media Company at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA.)

Most of the review sounds like a "regular" restaurant review, and then we read:
"Speaking of location, The Homeplace is a popular stop for hikers on the Appalachian Trail.

"'If you're in our parking lot and you look back south at the mountain behind the restaurant, the trail runs from the top of the mountain,' [owner] Wingate said. 'Hikers have said The Homeplace is the best restaurant on the Appalachian Trail, which is over 2,000 miles. It's hard for me to imagine, but we don't mind taking the credit -- it's quite interesting.'"
Read the whole review to get some history of the place, a quick profile of the owners, and either a recollection or a preview of the great food.

Cousins Hike PCT Over AT

A story titled "For the Pacific Crest hikers: Back to work" in the 23 October 2008 Jacksonville Florida Times-Union recounts the successful 6 month Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike by 29-year-old Matt Balanky, from Jacksonville, and his cousin 35-year-old Ben Webb. Both were dissatisfied with their post-military civilian jobs and used the hike to get direction. Balanky conjured up the idea of a long distance hike; Webb suggested the PCT over the AT. The article ends with the thought that "Both say they'll hike again, but nothing this ambitious. Balanky still wants to walk the Appalachian Trail. But this time, he said, he'll take 20 or 30 years to do it."

AMC's A.T. Day in Connecticut

The Greenwich (CT) Time of 23 October 2008 carries an article by special correspondent Scott Gargan titled "Hike the Appalachian Trail - in Connecticut." It highlights the upcoming AMC Appalachian Trail Day on Saturday 25 October.

Gargan provides some description of various sections of the A.T. in Connecticut. He quotes a few of the Appalachian Mountain Club's guides, who will be leading hikes on AMC Appalachian Trail Day, which is itself described as
"not only a celebration of the 71-year-old national landmark, but a salute to the hundreds of volunteers from dozens of organizations that have worked to preserve it."
For a complete list of events, visit the AMC web site's page about it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A.T. License Plate for Tennessee?

If you and 999 of your friends sign up to get an Appalachian Trail license plate in Tennessee, then the promise of such a plate will become a reality. That's the thrust of an article by Anne Paine in the 22 October 2008 issue of the Tennesseean and its website ("Middle Tennessee's primary online source for local news" owned by the Gannett newspaper folks who also bring you the Tennessean newspaper there in Nashville). The article is titled "Motorists could help Appalachian Trail" and outlines the steps Tennessee drivers need to take to get the fundraiser for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy rolling.
The license plates will cost $35 in addition to the regular vehicle registration fee. ATC will receive $15.56 for each plate purchased or renewed.
If I lived there....

While $15.56 doesn't sound like much, keep in mind that the 3-year-old North Carolina A.T. license plate has, according to the article, raised over $200,000 for the Trail.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

You Want Fries with your Trail Towns?

Now several miles off the Appalachian Trail, Fries, Virginia is hoping for a revitalization, according to the Rex Bowman article "Will Fries' ship come in? A Grayson mill town sets its sights on the lure of the New River" that appeared in the 20 October 2008 issue of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The town is on the banks of the New River, and Bowman points out that "the Iron Mountain Trail, once a part of the Appalachian Trail, runs along nearby ridges. With a river, mountains and trails, the town could try to seduce outdoor enthusiasts."

Could be that this will become a thriving new "trail town" near Grayson Highlands. It's worth keeping your eyes on it anyway.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Damascus, VA and the Virginia Creeper Trail

The 19 October 2008 article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Jack Horan, titled "Virginia mountain town a biking haven; Rail bed converted to natural bike path that can be coasted down," only mentions the Appalachian Trail in passing. But it's a worthy read for hikers because it adds to one's knowledge of the area around the friendliest town on the Trail. Besides, when you get near Damascus and find yourself on a gravel footpath with bicycles zipping past you, well, now you'll know why they're there and where they're going.

Peak-Bagging New Hampshire Family

The 19 October 2008 Boston Globe has an article titled "A family's peak portfolio" by Allan Fen that refers to the Appalachian Trail. Fen recounts his family's quest to climb all 48 of New Hampshire's 4,000-foot mountains over several years. And certain of those peaks are on the A.T. The story also quite naturally refers to the AMC huts, and to A.T. thru-hikers. Nice read. Great family activity!

Back from Blogging Break

The weather's finally turned fall-like here where I live -- and while the hiking s still fine, it's almost time for the hunters to be out after the whitetail deer in force -- so it's surely time to get back to noting the news about the Appalachian Trail. I'll try to do some back-filling, too, of news stories that I have missed since going on hiatus.

Friday, October 17, 2008

ATC as Map Source

An article proclaiming the joys of bushwhacking -- "Fill in the blanks on hiking maps; Off trail, plenty of adventure" by Tim Jones in the Concord (NH) Monitor of 17 October 2008 -- mentions the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Appalachian Mountain Club as possible sources for "recreation maps" that one could use to locate "blank spaces" that could stand a little off-trail exploring.

Iowan Thru-Hiker Still Getting Around

Molly Nicholas, a staff writer for the Valley News Today out of Shenandoah [sic!], Iowa, writes about Robert Birkby in a 17 October 2008 article titled "Sidney native shares adventures in Siberia, elsewhere."

Birkby is a native of Sidney, Iowa and left a teaching job at the University of Missouri to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. The article doesn't mention what year he hiked, but it does say that "He carried with him only what he needed to survive and spent five months on the trail."

He went from the Trail to Seattle pretty much on a whim. But that led him to round-the-world expeditions with Scott Fischer's 'Mountain Madness' adventure tour company. Fischer and a group climbing with him in 1996 were most notably remembered in Jon Krakauer's book "Into Thin Air." Birkby then turned to "Student Conservation Association (SCA), which is a non-profit organization that offers conservation internships to high school students." And he has more recently focused on writing a number of books.

Bryson's Books Reviewed and Inspiring

Two recent notices of Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods have come to my attention.

First is a short review of it online at English language site of the New Straits Times from Malaysia [Malaysia!] on 17 October 2008. There Su Aziz writes under the headlines "Read: Come along for the ride!" that "It’s a humorous book that is also interspersed with informative details of the trail's history and ecology."

Second is from a web site called World Hum; Travel Dispatches from a Shrinking Planet" and their travel blog dated 17 October 2008 with the title "What We Loved This Week: Idlewild Books, the Appalachian Trail and Flowers on the Turnpike." There, contributor Joanna Kakissis writes: "I lived in North Carolina for six years and never managed to step foot on the Appalachian Trail, despite hiking vicariously through the likes of Bill Bryson, Scott Huler and Eustace Conway (via Elizabeth Gilbert)." After finally getting on the Trail while at a conference in Roanoke, VA, she got inspired. Kakissis adds, "I started planning big. Anyone want to take off three months and hike the entire Maine-to-Georgia trail with me? It’s only, uh, like 2,175 miles." [Do I need to comment that that's planning for a very fast hike.]