President’s Letter
The organization Hike for Mental Health provides a generous donation to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy at Trail Days, received by Sandi Marra, ATC President and CEO (fourth from left)
The West branch of the Pleasant River along the A.T. corridor – 100-Mile Wilderness, Maine.
Photo by A.T. boundary volunteer Jim Williams
“There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.”
~ Linda Hogan, Chickasaw Poet and Environmentalist
FALL BRINGS WITH IT A NEW CADENCE to life. The light and vitality of the summer recedes into darker, shorter days. But the clean, fresh air of autumn always invigorates and seems laden with promises of both endings and new beginnings. Amid this, our forests show us one more profound expression of color as the leaves change from green to a vast array of autumnal tones.

Perhaps from the beginning of our existence, humans have been fascinated by fall leaves. We drive to Shenandoah, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We travel the globe in search of fleeting colors, paper-like formations, with unique veiny patterns falling from the sky and blanketing the ground with their layers of softness. Stepping upon these fallen leaves, the gentle percussive sounds of fall remind us that what grows from the ground eventually returns there.

But for a few fleeting moments, leaves float from the sky with a kind of cadence and slowness we rarely experience in our daily lives — the world in slow motion. Nature’s confetti. There is something deeply beautiful about watching an individual leaf drift through our shared atmosphere and down to our feet.

As life begins to slow down with the coming of the fall and winter seasons, it’s a great time to pause and reflect upon what connects us — the shared experience of seasons, the holidays that reunite friends and families, and time to plan for the new places we may go to in the future.

As President and CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, I too am spending a lot of time lately reflecting upon the beauty of the Trail and about all who work for it, play upon it, and support it. I wonder about the nature of beauty itself and the purpose it serves. Perhaps natural beauty in all its brilliant seasonal colors is here to capture our attention, to tell us it needs us, to inspire us to care. Perhaps these fall colors are our forest’s form of communication, reminding us that the world needs our nurturing and that the beauty around us is unifying and universal.

As is so often the case, the Appalachian Trail infuses our lives with depth, richness, and wisdom. As 2022 comes to a close, thank you for all of the ways you have cared for the A.T. I continue to be humbled by your generosity and the kindness you extend to one another. May you continue to enjoy the beauty of this season and all seasons. I shall leave you with a question that I ask myself this fall: What can I learn from nature’s story?

Sandra Marra / President & CEO
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