Reflections from the show floor

Amy McCormick, ATC’s Corporate Relations and Events officer, with The Real Hiking Viking, a 2013 Warrior Hike participant//Donated photo//Text by Amy McCormick

I’ve just returned from another exciting Winter Market Outdoor Retailer Show (OR) in Salt Lake City—an awesome outdoor gear trade show that features leading industry professionals and all the new products and apparel. Twice a year, I head out to OR to meet up with all of our partners (and chat with prospective partners) in order to share with everyone how the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is using their support, as well as figure out how we can all do more to protect the Appalachian Trail (A.T.).

This particular show was huge for the ATC because we were really able to promote new partnerships and show off some great A.T.-themed gear. Here’s the inside scoop on two products that will be available this year that hikers and A.T. enthusiasts will love:

  • A limited edition, American handcrafted blanket by Woolrich that is part of a “Triple Crown” hiking series in honor of the A.T. and its sisters, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. A small number of the blankets were for sale at OR to supporters who understood the value of what the ATC does to preserve and manage the A.T. It was exciting to see people’s enthusiasm for the beautiful blankets, and we can’t wait until they are available in stores at woolrich.com in the fall.
  • ORshow_McCormickPoint6Superior merino wool socks by Point6 that is also part of a “Triple Crown” line of its own! These socks are a must-have for hiking (and walking show floors!), and with each sock purchase, you have the added bonus of knowing that you are giving back to the ATC. Look for them at point6.com in the spring. Socks benefitting the Pacific Crest Trail Association and the Continental Divide Trail Coalition will also be available.

During the show, I was also excited to learn that another one of our great partners and ATC hammock manufacturer Eagle’s Nest Outfitters (ENO) was named REI vendor of the year—which in these circles is a huge honor. Since 2010, ENO has donated approximately $70,000 to the ATC and has given A.T. supporters everywhere a chance to hammock in style, all while giving back to the Trail they all love. (It should be mentioned that REI is also an ATC supporter—thank you!)

Overall, my time at OR gave me a chance to meet with so many folks from the outdoor industry who are genuinely interested in giving back to the places we all play, including the world-famous A.T. These companies are keenly aware of the need to support our work. Whether it is land protection, outdoor recreation, volunteerism or encouraging our children to get outside, we all have a role to play, and through partnerships such as these, we can make great things happen!

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Have a week to spare? You won’t regret using it for this.

S.W.E.A.T. Crew Assistant Leader Allegra T. on the Trail//Donated photo//Text by Anne Baker, marketing assistant

We get it. Whether it’s school, a full-time job, a family, or those little everyday life occurrences—you’re busy. But if you can spare a week and want to spend some time on the Appalachian Trail, we have a gig for you.

From late spring into the fall, six volunteer Trail Crews complete important trail construction and repair projects from Georgia to Maine. No previous experience is necessary! You just need to have a desire to work cooperatively, live in the backcountry for about a week or longer, and have a great time among friends. The work isn’t easy—it’s hard physical labor—but the satisfaction you’ll get from the experience will outweigh even those pesky mosquitoes.

Don’t just take our word for it, though. Read what Allegra T., who was the assistant crew leader for our S.W.E.A.T. Crew last year, had to say about her experience:

“Working for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy has revealed to me the hard work and dedication it takes to protect and preserve the Appalachian Trail. I’ve had a wonderful experience working with volunteers, and it brings me joy to see young and old people have a common love for the wilderness. It really is an awesome community. working with the S.W.E.A.T. crew has helped me grow into a stronger individual.  If you want to experience nature, and connect with the people and places of the A.T., the ATC will help, as well as benefit from, your efforts!”

Another great thing about joining the ATC’s Trail Crews? Besides satisfaction, we also provide your shelter, food, transportation to and from project sites, tools, safety equipment, and group camping gear.

Registration is now open for the 2015 season! Access the project calendar and more here.

See you on the Trail!

Curious about which Trail Crew would be a good fit for you? Take this cool BuzzFeed quiz to learn more!

Redford & Nolte ‘Walk in the Woods’

Robert Redford and Nick Nolte in “A Walk in the Woods”//Photo courtesy Sundance Institute//Text by Ron Tipton, ATC’s executive director/CEO

It is not possible to watch the Sundance premiere of Robert Redford’s production of “A Walk in the Woods” without comparing it to its Pacific Crest Trail movie counterpart “Wild.” While Redford and his sidekick Nick Nolte (playing book author Bill Bryson and his long-lost high school buddy Stephen Katz) are far removed from Reese Witherspoon, there are important thematic connections that make “A Walk” very special in its own way.

As Director Ken Kwapis said in introducing the film last night, there are three co-stars: Redford, Nolte and the Appalachian Trail. Members of the audience I talked to marveled at the beauty, challenge and unique hiking experience of hiking the beginning in Georgia in the spring. The story line centers on Bryson as an accomplished aging travel writer looking for adventure and Katz as a grizzled, obese and human wreck prone to sexist observations about women of all ages and body sizes. Yet this mismatch of characters quickly becomes a charming and sometimes endearing account of their search for meaning in life as they trudge through the Southern Appalachians. It is a challenging journey that reveals deep personal rewards for both of them as they absorb the experience of the world’s most-famous long distance hiking trail.

“A Walk in the Woods” is a comedy that grows on you as Bryson and Katz re-connect their long-time friendship. Redford play the straight man with a philosophical dignity as he responds to Nolte’s earthy observations about life, people and hiking the Trail. As the story moves north through Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, it grows in charm, humor and a genuine love of life and an appreciation for the 2,100 mile Trail.

There are funny moments throughout as the stars meet characters on and off the Trail. Young and highly annoying fellow thru-hiker Mary Ellen creates a classic confrontation of style with the aging duo. And my favorite moment in the book – Katz’s “date” with the very large Beulah who he meets in the laundromat as she attempts to salvage her panties from the washing machine—is truly a laugh out loud experience.

“A Walk in the Woods” will certainly appeal as did last night at Sundance to those who hike and an older audience that identify with the story and the characters. I heard numerous rave reviews after the movie. Will it also attract a younger and broader audience?

A mile here, a mile there

Albert Jackman, Myron Avery and Frank Schairer//Katahdin, Maine//Photo from the ATC’s archives//Text by Anne Baker, marketing assistant

Hikers, if you can’t get enough of the Appalachian Trail—well, there are now 3.9 more miles of it.

Wait, what? How did that happen?

It’s actually a pretty cool story.

Every year, the latest shelter and mileage information is gathered by volunteers, including Daniel D. Chazin of Teaneck, N.J., who has led the efforts since 1983. Believe it or not, to gather the data, a majority of the volunteers actually use measuring wheels like what’s pictured above—simply because measuring wheels pick up nuances in the terrain.

After the information is gathered, it is then carefully compiled and documented in the ATC’s official guidebooks, which include the Appalachian Trail Data Book and the Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers’ Companion. Re-measurements and relocations result in the mileage changes, and the totals usually vary in some capacity each year.

This year, more than half of the changes in the mileage are in southwest Virginia, with 2 miles added to the total following a re-measurement by volunteers. Increases were also reported in New York-New Jersey (0.1 mile); central Virginia (0.1 mile); Tennessee-North Carolina (1.5 miles); and North Carolina-Georgia (0.2 mile). That brings the total to 2,189.2 miles versus last year’s 2,185.3!

So if you happen to be out on the Trail and you see someone rolling a weird-looking wheel, remember to say thanks—they’re probably making sure you have the most up-to-date information about the footpath we all love so much.

Want to get the latest official A.T. guidebooks and maps? Check out what we have at our Ultimate A.T. Store at www.atctrailstore.org. You can also call 1.888.287.8673 to place an order.

Have you seen my solar charger?

The White Mountains//New Hampshire//Photo by Micah “ManCub” Goldberg//Text by Anne Baker, marketing assistant

There’s a debate out there that might generate more heat than the age-old question of “App-uh-ley-chun” versus “App-uh-lach-uhn,” and that’s the issue of technology and the Appalachian Trail. As hikers, how do we use things like mobile devices without diminishing the A.T. experience for ourselves and others?

Benton MacKaye, the A.T.’s visionary, originally proposed that the Trail would be a series of work, study and farming camps along the Appalachian Mountains. He wanted those camps to be a refuge from city life, which he felt was quickly encroaching on society. His dream didn’t quite work out that way, but the idea is still present: get away from it all, and learn something.

We can be apprehensive of combining technology and outdoor experiences, and with good reason. Maybe we are afraid it will make us lazy. Less prepared. More reliant on a glowing screen than our intuition. Able to occupy a comment box on Facebook but not a seat around a campfire. And, perhaps we’re also afraid it will make us care more about the photo we post to Instagram than what it means to look at the view itself (“What did the sky look like that day? Let me consult #ISummitedKatahdinAndItWasAwesome because I was too caught up in sharing my experience instead of observing it.”)

There’s not an app out there that will prepare us for everything we will encounter while we’re out on the A.T. But technology is here, and it’s silly to pretend it doesn’t exist. The dilemma, then, lies in its use: how can technology enhance the A.T. experience and not detract from it?

Let us know your thoughts in a comment below.