The A.T. Experience Book Cover Image

IT’S GREAT THAT THE ATC IS TAKING a strong stand for racial justice. When I thru-hiked the A.T. in 1978, I took note of the paucity of people of color. While my memory is somewhat hazy of some 42 years ago, I remember seeing black and brown hikers only in the Bear Mountain State Park area in New York and within maybe one or two large church groups on the Trail for a day hike. Through issues of A.T. Journeys, I’ve also taken note of the increasing deliberate efforts of the ATC to reach out to communities of color to involve them in Trail activities, including Trail maintenance, history, and use. I greatly applaud these efforts of ATC staff and A.T. volunteers up and down the Trail. Keep it going. You have my support.

Robert Rosofsky
Milton, Massachusetts

SANDRA MARRA’S COMMENTS (President’s Letter: “Shifting Perspectives and Realities” Summer 2020) show true insight into the long view of what the Trail should be. Let it be accepting to all, let us find mechanisms to make it more accessible to those who cannot afford getting to it, and let it be appreciated as more than just a foot pathway.

Peter A. “Turtur” Farrell, PhD
Washington, North Carolina

THANK YOU FOR YOUR STAND for social justice, even on the Trail. Stick to your guns! Don’t back down. There will always be people who think differently. However, social justice — anytime by anyone, whenever — is the will of our Creator. God is no respecter of only “certain” people. We are all of one created race and all deserve equal justice and the right to enjoy the great outdoors. I’ve done 500 miles of the A.T. and plan to finish the rest of it soon. I am 80 years old and have just completed 40 years on the Pacific Crest Trail. My hip is bothering me so I can’t hike right now. I hope to get back soon. It’s nice to meet people from all walks of life. To meet new faces in the small towns along the Trail shows me what a small world I live in. One never gets too old to broaden our horizons. Keep the good work up! The virus will be around for a while and shut some things down; but it will pass away eventually like everything else.

Merle Kauffman,
Fontana, California

PRESIDENT SANDRA MARRA’S letter in the Summer 2020 issue holds honest and relevant words. Anyone who hikes the A.T., whether day or distance hiking, can see the absence of racial and ethnic diversity along the Trail. Whenever I am on the Trail, I consider it a blessed experience, but I do not contemplate the privilege that has placed me there. Thanks to Sandra for raising our awareness and encouraging us to consider ways to introduce it to those for whom it is not so easily available.

Bunny Medeiros
Abingdon, Virginia

THE ATC HAS TAKEN THE CORRECT and noble action in regards of dealing with Covid-19 and the Trail experience. Furthermore, the call to reflect on how what is happening in American society is not out of line and is the right thing to do. This is ingrained from Benton MacKaye, “the ultimate purpose? There are three things: 1) to walk, 2) to see, and 3) to see what you see.

Mark Dunn
Flowery Branch, Georgia

I JUST WANTED TO SAY THANK YOU for the digital version of A.T. Journeys. It’s great that trees are being saved, as well as money (production, postage). This is probably the first time that I actually read Journeys right away, I usually set my mail down and don’t get to it for a while.

Randolph Duke
Yonkers, New York

WHILE I UNDERSTAND AND respect your proposal to close the Appalachian Trail at this time I would ask you to use a more delicate approach to the problem. I would suggest a moratorium on overnight camping but encourage day use with respect to social distancing and other COVID safety measures: no use of any non-natural Trail fixtures on the Trail. [Being] outdoors is an important part of health that has never been more needed than at this time. I feel for those who have cut their thru-hike short but agree this is not the time, sadly, for a thru- or section hike.

Norman “Sink” Detweiler
Souderton, Pennsylvania

I JUST WANTED TO SEND YOU A quick note to thank you for being an incredible organization. I’m sure you’ve received some criticism this year and I want you to know that I support you through and through. Your stance has continued to be that thru-hikers should postpone their hikes until things with COVID are settled down. That is a difficult stance to take but you’ve stuck to it and I’m proud to be part of this community. You still aren’t issuing tags or registering hikers, you’re refraining from reposting photos of the people who chose to go against your requests and thru-hiking anyway. I know y’all know this is the right thing to do and you don’t need me to tell you that, but I just wanted to tell you thank you. Thank you for protecting our Trail community, the Trail towns, and the Trail itself.

Melanie “Peanut” Harsha
Franklin, Tennessee

I ENJOYED READING THE TRAIL A Stories article in the summer 2020 issue of A.T. Journeys (“The Visitor Experience”), especially the episode about the bear sleeping on the tent. But it was the last paragraph that reached in and squeezed my heart. The words: “we love the Trail. Like, LOVE it” choked me up because my wife’s and my A.T. thru-hike dreams were shattered this year. This was the year we planned for, but postponed the trip because of COVID. We fully supported the ATC’s request to stay off the Trail. Not sure when, or if we will do a thru-hike, but we hope to SOBO hike the 100-Mile Wilderness this year.

Tomas Dundzila
Eliot, Maine

CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR fine work to help make the Great American Outdoors Act happen. Great job and kudos to all the good folks at ATC. It’s about time! The large bipartisan support is exciting and reassuring. If parties will jettison their tribal and ideological battles and go back to old fashioned sausage making — fiery sometimes but always civil and respectful — we the American citizens can take a deep meditative relaxing breath and go back to feeling assured and calm. Enacting the Great American Outdoors Act can serve as a guiding light forward. Thanks for your excellent work.

Marc H. Wallenstein
Roswell, Georgia

IT’S A SAFE BET, THAT IF THERE had been no Appalachian Trail, my wife Rosemere and I would not still be here today and walking every day for our health. The A.T. took us from scouting to the Allentown Hiking Club, Katahdin via Springer Mountain, the Swiss Alps, and Kibo Hut (15,520 feet) on Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. I shudder when I think how different both our lives would have been if their had been no A.T. or I had not volunteered to be a hiking merit badge counselor.

Harold Croxton
Rushville, Illinois
Correction to the article, “Striking a Balance” (Summer 2020): Diana Christopulos was incorrectly listed as RATC president in 2015. Diana served as vice president in 2015, president in 2016, and task force lead while Roger Holnback, Chris Wilson and Mike Vaughn, who was integral in the formation of the McAfee Task Force, all served as president in 2015.
A.T. Journeys welcomes your comments.
The editors are committed to providing balanced and objective perspectives. Not all letters received may be published. Letters may be edited for clarity and length.
Mailer icon

[email protected]
Letters to the Editor
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
P.O. Box 807
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425-0807

Trail Talk
Instagram Icon - Mention by @Sauceylasagna @Sauceylasagna
The A.T. to me, is a trail where people all over the East Coast can hike together! Talk about social distancing, so fun to think while I’m at my local stretch in New York, someone is at theirs in Georgia, and someone else at theirs in Maine…But in a way, we’re all walking together.
Facebook Icon - Mention by Lodge [Sandra Marra’s letter in the summer issue is] a powerful and timely statement, albeit one that is long overdue among the hiking community. Thank you for showing leadership and conviction even when it isn’t popular, even when the potential backlash exposes the very thing the ATC is attempting to confront. I stand and move forward in solidarity, not just as a hiker but as one who must leverage his privilege for the most vulnerable and marginalized among us.
~Matthew Foster
Instagram Icon - Mention by @Katiemorris18 @Katiemorris18
Thank you for explicitly taking a stand. The outdoor community needs to do more to demonstrate a commitment to ending systemic racism.
Instagram Icon - Mention by @Katiemorris18 @Jwearly
Those white blazes are amazing. Sometimes you scream at them because they just keep coming with no end in sight, but when you lose sight of them…wait…did I make a wrong turn? Then overjoyed to see another. Thank you for your tireless work!